Ben Cardin was born in Baltimore, and still resides in the city. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from the University of Maryland.
Cardin was first elected in 1966 to the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served from 1967 to 1987. He was chairman of the influential Ways and Means Committee before becoming speaker of the state House of Delegates in 1979.
Cardin was elected to the U.S. House in 1986 in his first try for Congress and was re-elected every two years through 2004.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
Cardin and his wife, Myrna, have a daughter.
Ben Cardin cruised to win his 2012 primary race in April with 74 percent of the vote against a state senator and seven lesser-known challengers.
Cardin, who is running for his second Senate term, had a financial edge over his primary opponents, allowing him to run a series of advertisements with a "My Friend Ben" theme, which featured the senator helping Maryland residents.
One of the ads focused on his efforts to boost oral health literacy, in the aftermath of a Prince George's County boy who died from a tooth infection that spread to his brain after his coverage lapsed and his mother couldn't find a dentist to treat him.
Cardin, who spent 10 terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 2006, spends much of his time speaking out on environmental and fiscal concerns.
He counts moving the country toward energy independence and reducing global warming among his main goals.
In 2011, he pushed for an end of $4 billion a year in subsidies and tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies. At the time, he said the savings from ending the tax breaks should be used for deficit reduction.
In December 2011, the senator held a hearing to discuss the nation's aging water and wastewater infrastructure.
Cardin, whose state is home to roughly 260,000 federal workers, is a strong supporter of federal jobs. In 2011, he spoke in a library at the U.S. Census Bureau's headquarters that was filled with federal workers concerned about how the debt limit deal and future budget cuts would affect them.
Cardin comes from a state that has the nation's largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay, and he considers trying to revive it after years of pollution a top priority.
Cardin is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and he supports increased fuel economy standards for vehicles and energy conservation measures aimed at reducing energy consumption. He co-sponsored legislation that aims to reduce global warming by requiring a 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. He also has co-sponsored legislation to allow Maryland and 14 other states to adopt California's standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.
Cardin has a workmanlike, low-key approach to politics, appearing comfortable on the campaign trail even though he lacks the flash and charisma of many of his more outgoing colleagues. His quiet approach to politics has worked well, and he has moved steadily up the ladder of responsibility, often impressing other lawmakers with a grasp of complicated issues, especially on fiscal matters, which have been his specialty throughout his career.
While serving in the U.S. House in 1997, Cardin was a member of the committee that brought ethics charges against then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. After much partisan wrangling, the House adopted the committee's recommendation to reprimand Gingrich and assess a $300,000 penalty for admitted ethics violations.
Cardin counts among his achievements passage of his legislation to increase the amount Americans can put into their 401(k) plans and IRAs, which was enacted in 2001.
Cardin is a supporter of gun control legislation, and believes women have the right to choose whether to have an abortion. He supports the death penalty. He voted against giving President George W. Bush the authority to send troops to Iraq.
Committee Assignments: Judiciary; Foreign Relations; Environment and Public Works; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Budget
American Conservative Union Rating: 0
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 100
Ben Cardin is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 24, 2014.)