Patty Murray was born in Bothell, Wash., and lives in Seattle and Shoreline. She earned a bachelor's degree from Washington State University.
She was an instructor at Shoreline Community College and a member of the Shoreline School Board from 1983 to 1989. Murray was a citizen lobbyist for education and environmental issues from 1983 to 1988.
She was elected to the state Senate in 1988.
After a single term in the Legislature, Murray was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. She was re-elected in 1998 and 2004. Murray was named secretary of the Democratic caucus in 2004, the fourth highest-ranking Democratic senator and the highest-ranking woman.
Murray and her husband, Rob, have two grown children.
Patty Murray has spent about two decades in the U.S. Senate, rising to Democratic leadership and powerful committee positions.
Military veterans have been a special focus for Murray in recent years. The daughter of a disabled World War II veteran, she consistently earns kudos from veterans organizations for her advocacy. In recent years, Murray halted the planned closing of a Veterans Affairs hospital in Walla Walla and personally forced action from Puget Sound VA officials after an outside review found facilities seriously lacking.
In 2012, she launched an investigation into how military hospitals handled post-traumatic stress designations.
Murray has been a strong supporter of President Barack Obama's economic policies as Democrats have attempted to blunt the effects of the Great Recession. That includes key votes for the February 2009 stimulus package, the March 2010 national health care overhaul and the July 2010 financial reform package.
Murray also leads efforts to support the homegrown Boeing Co., the state's largest private employer. Lately, that work has focused on helping Boeing win a lucrative contract to build new midair refueling tankers for the Air Force.
Murray received some criticism in 2007, when the Seattle Times reported that she and other Washington state lawmakers pushed for local pet projects, or earmarks, for companies that contributed to their political campaigns.
In particular, the newspaper said Murray helped insert four earmarks totaling $17.65 million into different spending bills to force the Navy and Coast Guard to buy speedboats from Guardian Marine, an Edmonds shipbuilder that contributed to Murray and other Washington lawmakers. None of the boats were used as Congress intended.
Nevertheless, Murray has been an unabashed defender of earmarked spending, saying it helps ensure the executive branch doesn't decide where all federal money flows.
"People tend to talk about earmarks as something that is a bad thing," Murray told the paper. "I see it as a way to make sure that the tax dollars that are spent are spent in a very wise way."
Murray celebrated one of her sweetest legislative victories in May 2008, as former President George W. Bush signed a bill creating the Wild Sky Wilderness northeast of Seattle, the first new wilderness area in Washington in nearly a quarter-century. The bill was signed nearly six years after Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen introduced it.
The law designates 167 square miles in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest north of Sultan as federal wilderness, the government's highest level of protection. Murray said after the signing that, "I can't wait to lace up my tennis shoes and take those first steps into Washington's first new wilderness area in 24 years."
Committee Assignments: Appropriations; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Budget; Joint Printing; Veterans' Affairs(Chair); Rules and Administration
American Conservative Union Rating: 5
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 95
Patty Murray is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on August 7, 2014.)