Carol Moseley Braun
|Carol Moseley Braun|
|Former U.S. Senator, Illinois|
| In Office from|
January 5, 1993 — January 3, 1999
|Preceded by||Alan J. Dixon|
|Succeeded by||Peter Fitzgerald|
|Born||August 16, 1947|
Carol Moseley Braun (born August 16, 1947), is a politician and lawyer, and was the first black woman elected to the United States Senate (representing Illinois). She was also an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 U.S. presidential election
Special consultant to the Department of Education on school construction, 1999
Moseley Braun was born in Chicago, IL and educated in the Chicago public school system. Carol Moseley-Braun is a graduate of the Chicago Public Schools system. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1968, and her law degree in 1972 from the University of Chicago. She joined the United States Attorney's office in Chicago in 1973. As an Assistant United States Attorney, her continuous work on the behalf of the needy and impoverished earned her an Attorney General's Special Achievement award.
In 1977 she left the attorney's office in order to become a homemaker (her son, Matthew, is now a computer engineer). However, her neighbors, impressed by her volunteer and advocacy work, encouraged her to run for state office. In 1978 she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1984 she was named Assistant Minority Leader and she later rose to the post of assistant majority leader before leaving the state legislature in 1988. When she left, her colleagues recognized her in a resolution as "the conscience of the House".
After one term as Cook County's recorder of deeds, she had her eye on higher public office. Incumbent Democratic senator Al Dixon's vote to confirm US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas outraged Braun. She ran against him in a 3-way primary, and got 38.3% of the vote. She went on to win a decisive victory in November. In the Year of the Woman, Braun scored a trifecta of firsts - first female senator from Illinois, first African-American Democratic senator, first African-American female senator (the previous African-American senator was a 2-term Republican from Massachusetts in the late 60's - early 70's).
Braun's highlights in her Senate term included a spirited debate with ancient senator Strom Thurmond over a federal patent on a Confederate Flag, being taunted by Jesse Helms in an elevator and firing right back (he sang "Dixie" to her and said he wanted to make her cry; she said, "with singing like that you'll make me cry"), and along with fellow IL Democrat Paul Simon, being one of only 14 senators to vote against Defense of Marriage Act. You can find some of her other accomplishments on her 2004 campaign site.
In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Senate; she was narrowly defeated for a second term in 1998. Following her election loss, she was appointed United States Ambassador by the Clinton administration to New Zealand and Samoa, a position she held from 1999 to 2001.
In spite of much promise and buzz following her '92 win, Braun was attacked repeatedly during her term. Many rumors and smears were thrown against her, some with more basis in reality than others. Among the most notable were her defense of and repeated visits to brutal Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, that her then-fiance (and campaign manager) was accused of sexual harassment by female campaign workers, that she misued campaign funds, and that she hid assets in order to cheat the state welfare system in behalf of her mother's nursing home eligibilty. Braun did her best to debunk many of those claims and remains innocent of any charges or investigations about her activities.
In 1998, Braun had to face off against a multi-millionaire Republican, Peter Fitzgerald. In a race which even many Democrats had written off as a loss, and where Braun was vastly outspent, she pulled in a surprising and extremely strong 47% of the vote. Her loss was by narrow margins. She was the only Democratic Senate incumbent to lose in that year, and the first IL Democrat in 20 years to lose a Senate race.
After briefly working with the State Department of Education, she was confirmed 98-2 by the Senate as Ambassador of New Zealand. In her 2 years as ambassador, her portfolio included New Zealand, Samoa, the Cook Islands and even Antarctica. She is fond of calling this time in her public service "Ambassador to Paradise." In New Zealand, she was made an honorary member of the Te Atiawa Maori people. In 2001 Braun returned to Alabama to rescue her family farm. She also began teaching political science and started her own business.
In late 2003, Braun set some tongues wagging when she announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, the first black woman since Shirley Chisholm to run for this office. She was unique in being one of only 3 candidates (Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich being the others) to support full same-gender marriage rights. She opposed the war in Iraq but felt troops needed to stay and rebuild the mess that the GOP had created. She also supported a single-payer health care system. Unfortunately, many of her ideas never received substantial study due to her longshot status. She was barely even asked questions or acknowledged during the Presidential debates (one of her most amusing moments was her comment that the black vote - Clarence Thomas' - *had* decided the 2000 Presidential election after all). Many believed that Braun ran only to rehabilitate her scandal-plagued image (she kept a folder called "The Nasties" with her on the campaign trail, ready for use each time her political past was in question). She did manage to present a positive viewpoint of a strong, composed, unique, confident woman. If those were her goals in entering the race, than she was a huge success.
In DC's January 14, 2004 primary, Braun took 3rd place, earning 12% of the vote. The next day, she dropped out of the race. She endorsed Governor Howard Dean, and spent the following few weeks stumping for him in various states (she was the only candidate to never attack Dean during the debates, and defended him against claims of racism during the Iowa Black and Tan debate). In their March primary, Illinois Democrats gave Braun second-place status (52,197 votes), her strongest showing of the race and a final tip of the hat to their homestate senator. Howard Dean later dropped his bid for the nomination on February 18, 2004 and endorsed the party's nominee John Kerry.
In May 2004, Braun spoke at the March for Women's Lives. She spoke on the second night of the 2004 Democratic National Convention (where she also spoke in '92). As of July 2004 she is working to pay off her campaign debts, and getting progressive women elected to all levels of government.
Moseley Braun is divorced and resides in Hyde Park, Chicago.
- Senate Committee on Judiciary
- Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice
- Subcommittee on Courts and Administrative Practice
- Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs
- Subcommittee on Securities
- Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Subcommittee on Export Expansion and Agriculture Development
- Subcommittee on Urban and Minority-Owned Business Development
Counties: Adams, Alexander, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Massac, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pope, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Richland, Rock Island, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, St. Clair, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago, Woodford