|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 6th district
January 3, 1993 - January 3, 2013
|Born||November 3, 1937|
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Education||University of San Francisco (BS)|
Lynn C. Woolsey (born November 3, 1937) is an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for California's 6th congressional district from 1993 to 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, her district included all of Marin County and most of Sonoma County.
She was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and was its co-chair from 2010 until her retirement in 2013. Woolsey, who described herself as "the first former welfare mother to serve in Congress," was one of two members of the House known to have previously been on welfare; the other is Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI).
Woolsey was born in Seattle, Washington. Woolsey graduated from Lincoln High School in 1955. She was educated at the University of Washington, where she became a member of Alpha Phi sorority, but left school early to be married. She moved to Marin County in Northern California and enrolled at the University of San Francisco.
Her husband left the family, leaving Woolsey to raise her three children alone. She received public assistance to make ends meet while working and finishing her education. She remarried and raised another child. She later became a human resources manager and business owner, a teacher at the College of Marin and the Dominican University of California, and a member of the Petaluma, California, City Council before running for Congress.
In 1992, five-term Congresswoman Barbara Boxer gave up her seat to make a successful run for the Senate. Woolsey entered a nine-way Democratic primary. Seven of her opponents lived in Marin County and split that county's vote, allowing Woolsey to win the nomination with only 26 percent of the vote. In the general election, she faced Republican Assemblyman Bill Filante, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and did not actively campaign. Woolsey won with 65 percent of the vote.
Woolsey was reelected eight times with no substantial opposition.
Woolsey was ranked as the most liberal member of Congress in 2012 by That's My Congress.
She quickly made her presence known, drawing upon her experience in vocal opposition to the major welfare reform initiative negotiated by House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s. She later led efforts to restore programmatic funding for services such as child care, nutrition, and paid parental leave. She also successfully passed legislation increasing the power of the IRS to enforce payment of delinquent child support.
Woolsey was an outspoken opponent of the War in Iraq. On October 10, 2002, she was among 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq. She has taken an active role in calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from that country. She led 15 members of Congress in writing a letter to President George W. Bush dated January 12, 2005, calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. She also was the first Member of Congress to call for a troop withdrawal, when she introduced H.Con. Res. 35 on January 26, 2005. Woolsey gave war protester Cindy Sheehan a guest pass to attend Bush's 2006 State of the Union speech. Sheehan's attendance at the speech became noted when she was arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a political message.
Woolsey introduced the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act on August 6, 1998. It was signed by President Clinton as Title XIV of the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act in December 2000.
Woolsey testified in support of H.R. 946, citing her approval for the clause restricting gaming on land that is "taken into trust for the tribes."
Woolsey's original bill (H.R. 4434, later H.R. 946) would not have permitted the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to have an Indian casino. Senator Barbara Boxer removed that prohibition when she included Woolsey's bill in the Omnibus Act.
In response, Woolsey introduced H.R. 2656 (which never left the House Resources Committee) and appeared frequently at local town-hall meetings, saying that the Miwok Indians double-crossed her by seeking to legalize gambling on their reservation.
On December 11, 2007, Woolsey, along with 8 other Democrats, voted 'nay' on a resolution to recognize the importance of "Christmas and the Christian faith" but did vote to "recognize the commencement of Ramadan",' a Muslim religious observance in October.
She was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which prevents private health insurance plans from covering abortion if the plan is subsidized by tax breaks in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.
On December 2, 2003, Woolsey wrote a letter on behalf of Stewart Pearson, the son of one of her senior aides, who had pleaded guilty to rape. In a letter written on her official congressional stationery, she asked the judge to consider mitigating circumstances and show leniency. The judge in the case was not swayed by the letter, and sentenced Pearson to eight years in prison, the maximum allowed under the plea bargain. Woolsey has apologized for writing the letter, saying she did not know all the facts; the victim did not accept her apology.
Woolsey was one of thirty-one House Democrats who voted to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. President George W. Bush won Ohio by 118,457 votes. Without Ohio's electoral votes, the election would have been decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, with each state having one vote in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Woolsey was arrested April 27, 2009, outside the embassy of Sudan in Washington, D.C., during a protest against genocide in Darfur. Woolsey and four other U.S. lawmakers were protesting the blocking of aid to victims. They were arrested on a charge of trespassing after they crossed a police line.
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||137,642||58.1|
|Republican||Michael J. Nugent||88,940||37.5|
|Peace and Freedom||Ernest K. Jones, Jr.||4,055||1.7|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||156,958||61.6|
|Republican||Duane C. Hughes||86,278||33.8|
|Peace and Freedom||Ernest K. Jones, Jr.||6,459||2.5|
|Natural Law||Bruce Kendall||5,240||2.1|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||158,446||68.0|
|Natural Law||Alan R. Barreca||5,240||2.2|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||182,166||64.3|
|Libertarian||Richard O. Barton||4,691||1.9|
|Natural Law||Alan R. Barreca||2,894||1.1|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||139,750||66.7|
|Republican||Paul L. Erickson||62,052||29.7|
|Libertarian||Richard O. Barton||4,936||2.3|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||226,423||72.7|
|Republican||Paul L. Erickson||85,244||27.3|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||173,190||70.3|
|Libertarian||Richard W. Friesen||9,028||3.6|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||229,672||71.7|
|Libertarian||Joel R. Smolen||13,617||4.2|
|Democratic||Lynn Woolsey (incumbent)||172,216||66.0|
|Peace and Freedom||Eugene F. Ruyle||5,915||2.2|
|Libertarian||Joel R. Smolen||5,660||2.1|
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 6th congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
Served alongside: Barbara Lee, Raúl Grijalva