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Suzan DelBene
Suzan DelBene, official portrait, 115th Congress.jpg
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
Leader Hakeem Jeffries
Preceded by Sean Patrick Maloney
Chair of the New Democrat Coalition
In office
January 3, 2021 – January 3, 2023
Preceded by Derek Kilmer
Succeeded by Annie Kuster
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 1st district
Assumed office
November 13, 2012
Preceded by Jay Inslee
Personal details
Born
Suzan Kay Oliver

(1962-02-17) February 17, 1962 (age 62)
Selma, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse
Kurt DelBene
(m. 1997)
Children 2
Education Reed College (BS)
University of Washington (MBA)

Suzan Kay DelBene (née Oliver; del-BEH-nay; born February 17, 1962) is an American politician and businesswoman who has been the United States representative from Washington's 1st congressional district since 2012.

DelBene was the 2010 Democratic nominee for U.S. representative for WA's 8th congressional district and narrowly lost to incumbent Republican Dave Reichert. In 2012 she won the general election in Washington's redrawn 1st district against Republican John Koster, while simultaneously winning the election for the remainder of the term in the 1st district under the pre-2012 boundaries, a seat left vacant by the resignation of Jay Inslee.

DelBene chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and is a former chair of the New Democrat Coalition.

Early life and education

DelBene was born in Selma, Alabama, the fifth child of Barry and Beth Oliver. At a young age, her family moved to Newport Hills in Bellevue, Washington. Later they moved to Mercer Island. In an autobiographical video, DelBene described her family's trouble paying bills and the hardship they faced after her father, a longtime airline pilot, lost his job. After fourth grade, her family moved around the country in search of work.

After graduating from The Choate School, a prep school in Wallingford, Connecticut, DelBene went to Reed College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in biology. She then continued her education at the University of Washington, earning a master's degree in business administration.

Business career

From 1989 to 1998 DelBene worked at Microsoft, where she was director of marketing and business development for the Interactive Media Group, marketing and sales training for Microsoft's Internet properties, and other business development and product management roles with Windows 95 and early versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser. In 1998 she left to help found drugstore.com and serve as a vice president. In 2000, she became CEO of Nimble Technology, leading it through its acquisition by Actuate in 2003. In 2004, she returned to Microsoft as corporate vice president of the Mobile Communications Business until 2007. From 2008 to 2009, she was a management consultant and strategic advisor to Global Partnerships, a nonprofit supporting microfinance and sustainable solutions in Latin America. DelBene was named as the director for the Washington State Department of Revenue on November 30, 2010, replacing outgoing director Cindi Holmstrom.

U.S House of Representatives

Elections

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene Farmer's Market
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene with a vendor at a Kirkland, WA farmer's market

2010

In 2010 DelBene ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat against the incumbent in the 8th congressional district, Dave Reichert, a Republican. According to DelBene's campaign website, the economy was her top priority. She was endorsed by the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, as well as several Democratic politicians.

DelBene faced Reichert in the general election, after coming in 2nd in the primary voting. In Washington, the top two advance. She lost to Reichert in the general election on November 2. She was named Washington State Revenue Director by Governor Christine Gregoire on November 30.

2012

DelBene ran for Congress again in 2012. She won the Democratic nomination for the redrawn 1st district, previously represented by Jay Inslee, which became more competitive due to redistricting. Inslee had resigned in March to focus on his campaign for governor. DelBene ran in two elections that day against Republican John Koster—a special election for the last two months of Inslee's seventh term (held in the boundaries of the old 1st), and a regular election for a full two-year term. She defeated Koster in both, winning the special election with 60% of the vote and the regular election with 54%. Her victory margin in the regular election was wider than expected, considering that the district was about six points less Democratic than its predecessor. On November 13, she was sworn in as the district's representative for the remainder of the 112th Congress, giving her a leg up in seniority over all but a few other representatives first elected in November 2012 for the 113th Congress.

DelBene spent $2.8 million of her own money in a race in which she raised over $4 million, in a Congressional race that became the most expensive in Washington state history.

2014

DelBene defeated Republican nominee Pedro Celis with 55% of the vote.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • New Democrat Coalition (Chair)
  • Caucus on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality Technologies (Co-Chair)
  • Digital Trade Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Kidney Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • MedTech Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Reality Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Women's High Tech Coalition (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
  • Veterinary Medicine Caucus
  • LGBTQ Equality Caucus
  • Diabetes Caucus
  • U.S.-Japan Caucus

Policy positions

Congresswoman DelBene Data Privacy Conference
Congresswoman DelBene speaking at the 2019 Forum Global Data Privacy Conference

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

DelBene voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time in the 117th Congress, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene Lynwood Link Groundbreaking
DelBene speaking at the Lynnwood Link Extension Project Groundbreaking Ceremony in September 2019

Electoral history

Washington's 8th congressional district and Washington's 1st congressional district: Results 2010–2022
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2010 Suzan DelBene 148,581 48.0% Dave Reichert (incumbent) 161,296 52.0%
2012 (special) Suzan DelBene 216,144 60.4% John Koster 141,591 39.6%
2012 177,025 53.9% 151,187 46.1%
2014 124,151 55.0% Pedro Celis 101,428 45.0%
2016 193,619 55.4% Robert J. Sutherland 155,779 44.6%
2018 197,209 59.3% Jeffrey Beeler 135,534 40.7%
2020 249,944 58.6% 176,407 41.3% *
2022 181,992 63.5% Vincent Cavaleri 104,329 36.4%

* Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2020, write-ins received 511 votes.

Personal life

DelBene's husband, Kurt DelBene, has served as Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs since November 2021. He was previously Chief Digital Officer and EVP of Corporate Strategy, Core Services Engineering and Operations at Microsoft Corporation, and led the effort to fix the Healthcare.gov website at President Barack Obama's request.

DelBene is a practicing Episcopalian.

See also

  • Women in the United States House of Representatives
Black History Month on Kiddle
Distinguished African-American Artists:
Sharif Bey
Hale Woodruff
Richmond Barthé
Purvis Young
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