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Earl Blumenauer
Earl Blumenauer, official portrait, 116th Congress 2.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 3rd district
Assumed office
May 21, 1996
Preceded by Ron Wyden
Portland City Commissioner
In office
January 5, 1987 – May 25, 1996
Preceded by Mildred Schwab
Succeeded by Erik Sten
Member of the Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners
In office
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
from the 11th district
In office
January 8, 1973 – January 1, 1979
Preceded by John W. Anunsen
Succeeded by Rick Bauman
Personal details
Earl Francis Blumenauer

(1948-08-16) August 16, 1948 (age 75)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Margaret Kirkpatrick
(m. 2004)
Children 2
Education Lewis and Clark College (BA, JD)

Earl Francis Blumenauer (/ˈblmən.ər/ bloom-Ə-nowər; born August 16, 1948) is an American lawyer, author, and politician serving as the U.S. representative for OR's 3rd congressional district since 1996. The district includes most of Portland east of the Willamette River.

A member of the Democratic Party, Blumenauer previously spent over 20 years as a public official in Portland, including serving on the Portland City Council from 1987 to 1996, when he succeeded Ron Wyden in the U.S. House of Representatives. Wyden was elected to the U.S. Senate after Bob Packwood resigned.

Early life and education

Blumenauer was born in Portland on August 16, 1948. In 1966, he graduated from Centennial High School on Portland's east side and then enrolled at Lewis & Clark College. He majored in political science and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lewis & Clark in 1970. Blumenauer completed his education in 1976 when he earned a Juris Doctor degree from the school's Northwestern School of Law (now Lewis & Clark Law School). Before starting law school in 1970 and until 1977, he worked as an assistant to the president of Portland State University.

Early political career

In 1969–70, Blumenauer organized and led Oregon's "Go 19" campaign, an effort to lower the state voting age (while then unsuccessful, it supported the national trend that soon resulted in the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18). In 1972, he was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, representing the 11th district in Multnomah County. He was reelected in 1974 and 1976, and continued representing Portland and Multnomah County until the 1979 legislative session. From 1975 to 1981 he served on the board of Portland Community College. After his time in the Oregon legislature, he served on the Multnomah County Commission from 1979 to 1986. He lost a race for Portland City Council to Margaret Strachan in 1981. He left the county commission in March 1986 to run again for city council.

Blumenauer was elected to the Portland City Council in May 1986. His first term began in January 1987, and he remained on the council until 1996. From the start of his first term, he was named the city's Commissioner of Public Works, which made him the council member in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (also known as the Transportation Commissioner). During his time on the council, Blumenauer was appointed by Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt to the state's commission on higher education, on which he served in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, Blumenauer was defeated by Vera Katz in an open race for mayor of Portland—to date, only the second time that Blumenauer has lost an election. At the time he was called "the man who probably knows the most about how Portland works", but he left local politics to run for Congress. After winning election to Congress, he resigned from the city council in May 1996. In 2010, Blumenauer received The Ralph Lowell Award for outstanding contributions to public television.

U.S. House of Representatives

Earl Blumenauer 1997
Blumenauer during the 105th Congress


Blumenauer was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1996 in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by the election of Ron Wyden to the U.S. Senate. He received 69% of the vote, defeating Republican Mark Brunelle. He was elected to a full term that November, and was reelected 10 times without serious difficulty in what has long been Oregon's most Democratic district, never with less than 66% of the vote.

Blumenauer served as Oregon campaign chair for both John Kerry's and Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.

In Congress, Blumenauer is noted for his advocacy for mass transit, such as Portland's MAX Light Rail and the Portland Streetcar, and, as a strong supporter of legislation promoting bicycle commuting, cycles from his Washington residence to the Capitol and even to the White House for meetings.

Among the bills Blumenauer has sponsored that have become law are the Bunning-Bereuter-Blumenauer Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004 and the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. In addition, the Legal Timber Protection Act passed as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, while the Bicycle Commuter Act passed with the 2008 bailout bill.

Blumenauer was active in pressuring the United States to take greater action during the Darfur conflict.

In the political aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Blumenauer noted that he was among those who had pointed out the vulnerability of New Orleans and encouraged Congress to help that city and the gulf coast get better prepared:

  • 2004: "Barely have we recovered from Hurricane Hugo and we are seeing Hurricane Ivan pose the threat that has long been feared by those in Louisiana, that this actually might represent the loss of the City of New Orleans. Located 15 feet below sea level, there is the potential of a 30-foot wall of water putting at risk $100 billion of infrastructure and industry and countless lives."
  • 2005: "I recently had the opportunity to view the devastation in Southeast Asia as a result of the tsunami. As appalled as I was by what I saw, I must confess that occasionally my thoughts drifted back to the United States. What would have happened if last September, Hurricane Ivan had veered 40 miles to the west, devastating the city of New Orleans? One likely scenario would have had a tsunami-like 30-foot wall of water hitting the city, causing thousands of deaths and $100 billion in damage...The experience of Southeast Asia should convince us all of the urgent need for congressional action to prevent wide-scale loss of life and economic destruction at home and abroad. Prevention and planning will pay off. Maybe the devastation will encourage us to act before disaster strikes."
Blumenauer during the 112th Congress

Blumenauer supports the World Trade Organization and has voted for free trade agreements with Peru, Australia, Singapore, Chile, Africa, and the Caribbean. His support for these agreements has angered progressives, environmental and labor activists. In 2004, he voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement. On September 24, 2007, four labor and human rights activists were arrested in Blumenauer's office protesting his support for the Peru Free Trade Agreement.

In February 2009, after a domesticated chimpanzee in Connecticut severely mauled a woman, gaining national attention, Blumenauer sponsored the Captive Primate Safety Act to bar the sale or purchase of non-human primates for personal possession between states and from outside the country. In June 2008, Blumenauer had sponsored legislation to ban interstate trafficking of great apes, which had passed in the House but been tabled by the Senate.

Blumenauer received some media attention during the political debate over health care reform for sponsoring an amendment to the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 to change procedures to mandate that Medicare pay for end-of-life counseling. The amendment, as introduced, was based on an earlier proposal cosponsored by Blumenauer and Republican Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana. The amendment generated controversy, with conservative figures, such as 2008 vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, suggesting that the amendment, if made law, would be used as a cover for the federal government to set up "death panels" that would be used to determine which people received medical treatment. Blumenauer called the claim "mind-numbing" and an "all-time low." His rebuke was echoed by Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who called the death panels claim "nuts."

Earl Blumenauer speaks at opening ceremony for Blumenauer Bridge
Blumenauer speaks at the opening ceremony for his namesake bike and pedestrian bridge in Portland, Oregon

On July 24, 2014, Blumenauer introduced the Emergency Afghan Allies Extension Act of 2014 (H.R. 5195; 113th Congress), a bill that would authorize an additional 1,000 emergency Special Immigrant Visas that the United States Department of State could issue to Afghan translators who served with U.S. troops during the War in Afghanistan. He argued that "a failure to provide these additional visas ensures the many brave translators the U.S. promised to protect in exchange for their services would be left in Afghanistan, hiding, their lives still threatened daily by the Taliban."

Blumenauer skipped all of President Trump's State of the Union addresses, saying, "I refuse to be a witness to his continued antics." In 2019 he was one of the first lawmakers to come out in support of the Green New Deal.

In July 2019, Blumenauer voted against a House resolution introduced by Representative Brad Schneider opposing efforts to boycott the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel for its continued occupation of Palestine. The resolution passed 398–17.

In November 2020, Blumenauer was named a candidate for Secretary of Transportation in the incoming Biden administration. Pete Buttigieg was eventually chosen instead.

During the 117th Congress, Blumenauer voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 99.1% of the time according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Blumenauer voted to provide Israel with support following the 2023 Hamas attack on Israel.

On October 30, 2023, Blumenauer announced he would not run for re-election in 2024.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
  • Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition
  • National Guard and Reserve Component Caucus
  • Animal Protection Caucus
  • Historic Preservation Caucus
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Coalition on Adoption
  • Fitness Caucus
  • Bosnia Caucus
  • Korea Caucus
  • Diabetes Caucus
  • Congressional Bike Caucus
  • Caucus to Control and Fight Methamphetamine
  • Human Rights Commission
  • House Oceans Caucus
  • Internet Caucus
  • Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus
  • Dem Caucus Congressional Taskforce on Seniors
  • Wild Salmon Caucus
  • High Performance Building
  • Congressional Land Conservation Caucus
  • Urban Caucus
  • Wine Caucus
  • Small Brewers Caucus
  • Quality Care Caucus
  • Congressional Arts Caucus
  • United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus
  • Climate Solutions Caucus
  • U.S.-Japan Caucus
  • Medicare for All Caucus

Political positions

In 1996, Blumenauer's first year in Congress, he voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed that year. The law was found unconstitutional in 2013 and repealed. Since then he has supported LGBTQ rights.

On October 1, 2015, following the Umpqua Community College shooting, Blumenauer tweeted his report addressing the issue of gun violence in America, Enough is Enough: A Comprehensive Plan to Improve Gun Safety, which he had published earlier that year.

Blumenauer has supported alternative energy sources, health care reform, and continuing federal support for education. .....

Personal life

Blumenauer has been married to Margaret Kirkpatrick since 2004.

An avid cyclist, Blumenauer is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus.

Each year, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Blumenauer bakes and delivers hundreds of fruitcakes to his colleagues on the Hill.

Electoral history

Oregon's 3rd congressional district: Results 1996–2022
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996 Earl Blumenauer 165,922 67% Scott Bruun 65,259 26% Joe Keating Pacific 9,274 4% Bruce A. Knight Libertarian 4,474 2% Victoria P. Guillebeau Socialist 2,449 1% *
1998 Earl Blumenauer 153,889 84% (no candidate) Bruce A. Knight Libertarian 16,930 9% Walt Brown Socialist 10,199 6% Write-ins 2,333 1%
2000 Earl Blumenauer 181,049 67% Jeffery L. Pollock 64,128 24% Tre Arrow Pacific Green 15,763 6% Bruce A. Knight Libertarian 4,942 2% Walt Brown Socialist 4,703 2% *
2002 Earl Blumenauer 156,851 67% Sarah Seale 62,821 27% Walt Brown Socialist 6,588 3% Kevin Jones Libertarian 4,704 2% David Brownlow Constitution 3,495 1% *
2004 Earl Blumenauer 245,559 71% Tami Mars 82,045 24% Walt Brown Socialist 10,678 3% Dale Winegarden Constitution 7,119 2% Write-ins 1,159 <1%
2006 Earl Blumenauer 186,380 73% Bruce Broussard 59,529 23% David Brownlow Constitution 7,003 3% Write-ins 698 <1%
2008 Earl Blumenauer 254,235 75% Delia Lopez 71,063 21% Michael Meo Pacific Green 15,063 4% Write-ins 701 <1%
2010 Earl Blumenauer 193,104 70% Delia Lopez 67,714 25% Jeff Lawrence Libertarian 8,380 3% Michael Meo Pacific Green 6,197 2% Write-ins 407 <1%
2012 Earl Blumenauer 264,979 74% Ronald Green 70,325 20% Woodrow Broadnax Pacific Green 13,159 4% Michael Meo Libertarian 6,640 2% Write-ins 772 <1%
2014 Earl Blumenauer 211,748 72% James Buchal 57,424 20% Michael Meo Pacific Green 12,106 4% Jeffrey J. Langan Libertarian 6,381 2% David Walker Non-affiliated 1,089 1% *
2016 Earl Blumenauer 274,687 72% No candidate David W. Walker Independent 78,154 20% David Delk Progressive 27,978 7% Write-ins 1,536 <1%
2018 Earl Blumenauer 279,019 73% Tom Harrison 76,187 20% Marc Koller Independent 21,352 6% Gary Dye Libertarian 5,767 2% Michael Marsh Constitution 1,487 <1% *
2020 Earl Blumenauer 343,574 73% Joanna Harbour 110,570 24% Alex DiBlasi Pacific Green 8,872 2% Josh Solomon Libertarian 6,869 2% Write-ins 621 <1%
2022 Earl Blumenauer 212,119 69% Joanna Harbour 79,766 26% David E Delk Pacific Green 10,982 3% Write-ins 467 <1%

Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1996, write-ins received 531 votes. In 2000, write-ins received 576 votes. In 2002, write-ins received 1094 votes. In 2014, write-ins received 1,089 votes. In 2018, write-ins received 514 votes.

See also

  • Blumenauer Bridge
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