State Sen. Katherine M. Clark, a Democrat, seized victory Tuesday in the special election for Massachusetts’ 5th District.
Clark will succeed Sen. Edward J. Markey in the suburban Boston district. Markey vacated the seat after he won a special election for the Senate seat Secretary of State John Kerry once held.
Here are seven things to know about the newest member of Congress:
1. Clark emerged from a crowded field of five Democrats this fall. Democratic operatives viewed her as the front-runner in the special-election primary for the entirety of the race. She was the first to announce her bid back in February, before it was clear Markey was going to win the Senate special election.
She proved to be a prolific fundraiser, and along with the help of EMILY’s List, took the first-place spot in the primary with 32 percent. The Democrats she defeated included a sheriff, two state senators and a state representative.
2. Clark is just the sixth woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, continuing a rise in the number of women elected to federal office from the Bay State. Rep. Niki Tsongas started the trend in 2007 as the first woman elected to Congress from the commonwealth in 25 years. In 2012, Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the state’s first female senator.
“The response that I get from voters is that people see electing another woman to the delegation as a real positive and a real plus,” Clark said in a Monday phone interview with CQ Roll Call. “And I think people want a Congress that reflects them and is truly representative of the diversity of gender ethnicity in our district.”
3. Clark is a big backer of animal rights. While in the state Senate, she sponsored a bill that allows pets of all stripes to be included in restraining orders in domestic abuse cases. Clark says that often animals are subject to abuse in domestic violence cases, and that including them in restraining orders helps keep those pets safe.
4. Both senators from Massachusetts call Clark’s new district home. Warren is a resident of the 5th District, and Markey represented it for decades in the House.
“If I am elected tomorrow, I will have both of them as constituents in my congressional district, and I have known them both worked on their campaigns,” Clark said Monday.
5. Clark holds three degrees, including a Master of Public Administration from Harvard and a J.D. from Cornell University. And while a number of members of Congress hold degrees from those two Ivy League institutions, only one other current member of Congress received a bachelor’s degree from her undergraduate alma mater, St. Lawrence University: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Clark and Collins didn’t overlap during their time at the university, located near the Canadian border in upstate New York. Clark graduated with a degree in history in 1985, while Collins graduated a decade earlier with a degree in government.
“I am hoping to contact her and that we can bond over that,” Clark said.
6. Clark is the first new person to represent this district in 37 years. Markey was first elected to what was then the 7th District in 1976. The 2010 decennial redistricting process changed the district’s number, plus added a section of Middlesex County. But most of the 5th District’s voters have sent Markey to Congress for nearly four decades.
“John F. Kennedy was the congressman from this district, as well as [Speaker] Tip O’Neill, so there is a big historical significance to this seat, and I feel very privileged to be the Democratic nominee,” Clark said.
7. Clark has three sons, ages 11, 13 and 17. Like many in Massachusetts, she is a Boston Bruins and Red Sox fan.
“I can brag that I have managed to get pictures with both the Stanley Cup and the World Series trophies,” Clark said.