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Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 2003
Preceded by Ed Bryant

Born June 6, 1952 (1952-06-06) (age 57)
Laurel, Mississippi
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Charles "Chuck" Blackburn
Children Mary Morgan Ketchel
Chad Blackburn
Residence Brentwood, Tennessee
Alma mater Mississippi State University
Occupation Retail Marketing
Religion Presbyterian

Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn[1] (born June 6, 1952) is a Tennessee politician. As member of the Republican Party, she has represented Tennessee's 7th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 2003. Her district stretches from the suburbs of Nashville to the suburbs of Memphis.


Early career

Born Marsha Wedgeworth in Laurel, Mississippi, Blackburn attended Northeast Jones High School and graduated from Mississippi State University where she joined Chi Omega,[2] and where she also spent a few summers working with the Southwestern Company. Blackburn now lives in Brentwood, a wealthy suburb of Nashville. She began her political career in 1977 as a founding member of the Williamson County Young Republicans. She served as chairwoman of the Williamson County Republican Party from 1989 to 1991.

Before getting into the world of politics, Blackburn owned and operated a marketing company in Williamson County Tennessee. Blackburn's elective political career began in 1992, when she won the Republican nomination for the 6th District, which at the time included her home in Brentwood. She lost by 16 percentage points to longtime congressman Bart Gordon. In 1995, she was appointed chairwoman of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission. She won elective office for the first time in 1998, when she was elected to the Tennessee State Senate, representing Williamson County and a sliver of Davidson County. She led efforts to prevent the passage of a state income tax championed by Governor Don Sundquist.


Blackburn is Presbyterian.[3] The Presbyterian Church is made up of several independent denominations or governing bodies.[4] According to the online Presbyterian News Service, the denomination Blackburn is a member of is The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).[5] Blackburn is a member of The C Street Family, a Christian fundamentalist prayer group which includes many prominent Republican members of Congress.[6]

2002 election to Congress

Redistricting after the 2000 Census moved Blackburn's home from the 6th District into the 7th District. This move was made to protect Gordon, who had faced some fairly close races in the 1990s due to the presence of Williamson County, the richest county in the state and the most Republican county in Middle Tennessee. It appeared that the General Assembly wanted to pack the already heavily Republican 7th with as many Republicans as possible. To make up for the increase in population from the addition of Williamson County, the General Assembly shifted some of the more Democratic parts of Clarksville to the nearby 8th District. The result was a district that, in some parts of Middle Tennessee, is only two miles wide.

In 2002, incumbent Congressman Ed Bryant decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Fred Thompson. Blackburn entered the Republican primary. The primary was watched very closely in Tennessee Republican circles. The 7th District is considered the state's most Republican district outside the state's traditional Republican heartland, East Tennessee. Republicans had held the 7th since 1972 by margins rivaling those usually scored by East Tennessee Republicans. It became generally accepted that whoever won the Republican primary would be the district's next representative.

Of the four serious candidates, Blackburn was the only one from the Nashville suburbs, while the other three were all from Memphis and its suburbs. The three Memphians split the vote in that area, allowing Blackburn to win the primary by 20 points. Blackburn's primary win was tantamount to election in November. In the general election, Blackburn defeated Democratic nominee Tim Barron. She was the fourth woman elected to Congress from Tennessee, but the first not to serve as a stand-in for her husband. (Irene Bailey Baker and Louise Reece had served as caretakers after their husbands died in office, and Marilyn Lloyd replaced her husband on the ballot when he died after the primary election.) She is also the first Republican to represent part of Nashville itself since Reconstruction; a small portion of Nashville (roughly coextensive with the Davidson County portion of her State Senate district) was shifted from the heavily Democratic 5th District to the 7th District after the 2000 Census.

House career

She was unopposed for reelection in 2004, which is somewhat unusual for a freshman member of Congress, even from a district as heavily Republican as the 7th. Washingtonian's September 2004 Best and Worst of Congress, obtained from a survey of Congressional aides, identified Blackburn as one of the three best freshman members.

Blackburn is a staunch fiscal and social conservative, which is not surprising given the nature of her district. She was defeated in November 2007 for the position of Republican Conference chairman. Some had speculated she would run for Bill Frist's U.S. Senate seat in 2006; however, she chose to run for a third House term. Unlike most female Representatives, she prefers to be called "Congressman Blackburn."[7] She has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2010.[8]

On January 5, 2009, Blackburn made a talk radio appearance on the Roger Hedgecock show. During the course of discussing infrastructure spending proposed to be included in the upcoming 2009 economic stimulus bill, she cited "bicycle paths" as an example of frivolous and wasteful public works spending, and implied they do not create a substantive economic or public benefit. However, according to the LegiStorm online database, Blackburn herself has requested over $3.4 million dollars in federal budget earmarks.[9]

Given the 7th District's strong conservative tilt, it is not likely that Blackburn will face substantive opposition in the near future.

On June 26, 2009, Blackburn signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1503, the bill introduced as a reaction to conspiracy theories which claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen.[10]

Blackburn is a vocal opponent of President Obama's Health Care Reform Legislation, which she characterizes as "a government run, government ensured, government financed, government delivered healthcare system".[11]

According to her campaign website, Blackburn has received the following honors:

On May 31, 2006, Rep. Blackburn was named the “hottest woman in U.S. politics” in an online poll sponsored by[12]

Blackburn served as an assistant whip in the 108th and 109th Congress, and served as a deputy whip for the 110th Congress.[13] Under new whip Eric Cantor, Blackburn continues her work as a deputy whip for the 111th Congress. During the 110th Congress she was the Communications Chairman for the Republican Study Committee. She is also serving as a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee for third consecutive term.

In 2008 Blackburn coasted to victory in her GOP primary race by gaining 62 percent of the vote, despite an opposition from Shelby County register of deeds, and former fellow state senator, moderate Republican Tom Leatherwood.[14][15]

Blackburn scored 100% on American Conservative Union’s 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 Ratings of Congress.[16][17][18] According to the 2009 annual vote studies by Congressional Quarterly, Blackburn is one of the most partisan Republican members of the House nationally.[19] According to National Journal’s 2009 Vote Ratings, she was ranked as the 7th conservative in the House.[20]


Al Gore questioning

In April 2009, Blackburn questioned former Vice President Al Gore during an energy-related congressional hearing. The Independent, a London-based periodical, has credited her for "famously put[ting Gore] on the spot about his business interests in the [energy] industry" during this confrontation.[21] Citing the concerns of her district constituents, Blackburn's question to Gore was simply: "The legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?”[22]

Committee assignments

Party leadership and caucus memberships

2008 Presidential election

Congresswoman Blackburn initially backed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, joining his campaign as a senior advisor.[23] On May 25, 2007, Blackburn resigned her position in the Romney campaign and endorsed former Senator Fred Thompson for President.[24]

Electoral history

Tennessee's 6th congressional district: 1992 results[25]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Bart Gordon 120,177 57% Marsha Blackburn 86,289 41% H. Scott Benson Independent 5,952 3% *
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, write-ins received 10 votes.
Tennessee's 7th congressional district: Results 2002–2006[25]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2002 Tim Barron 51,790 26% Marsha Blackburn 138,314 71% Rick Patterson Independent 5,423 3% *
2004 (no candidate) Marsha Blackburn 232,404 100%
2006 Bill Morrison 73,369 32% Marsha Blackburn 152,288 66% Kathleen A. Culver Independent 1,806 1% *
2008 Randy Morris 98,207 31% Marsha Blackburn 214,214 69%
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2002, write-ins received 31 votes. In 2006, James B. "Mickey" White received 898 votes; William J. Smith received 848 votes; John L. Rimer received 710 votes; and Gayl G. Pratt received 663 votes.


  1. ^ U.S. Rep. Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn 2008 - Annual
  2. ^
  3. ^ Campaign 2004, Associated Press
  4. ^ Presbyterian Family, Association of Religious Data Bases
  5. ^ Presbyterian News Service, Feb 12,2009
  6. ^ Inside The C Street House, July 21, 2009
  7. ^ ANDREWS, HELENA (Apr/15/2008). "The lady prefers 'congressman'". Politico. 
  8. ^ Kleinheider (January 7, 2009). "Marsha Blackburn Has Not Yet Decided On A Run For Guv". 
  9. ^ Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) Earmarks Requested ( $3,446,000) -
  10. ^
  11. ^ Memphis Fox Network Online, Sept 4 2009
  12. ^ Politics1 - Online Poll
  13. ^ "Blackburn to speak at GOP dinner". Shelbyville Times-Gazette. April 1, 2008. 
  14. ^ BEADLE, NICHOLAS (August 8, 2008). "Blackburn beats Leatherwood". The Jackson Sun. 
  15. ^ L., James (August 8, 2008). "8/7 Primary Results Round-up". Swing Stage Project. 
  16. ^ "2005 Votes by State Delegation". ACU Ratings. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  17. ^ "2007 Votes by State Delegation". ACU Ratings. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  18. ^ "2009 Votes by State Delegation". ACU Ratings. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  19. ^ Theobald, Bill (Jan 17, 2010‎). "Alexander among most bipartisan of GOP senators". The Leaf-Chronicle (WASHINGTON: Gannett): p. 2. Retrieved 2010-01-19. 
  20. ^ "2009 VOTE RATINGS". National Journal. Feb. 27, 2010. 
  21. ^ Usborne, David (4 November 2009). "Al Gore denies he is 'carbon billionaire'". The Independent. 
  22. ^ Allen, Nick (03 November 2009). "Al Gore 'profiting' from climate change agenda". The Daily Telegraph. 
  23. ^ "Governor Mitt Romney Announces Two New Senior Advisers"
  24. ^ "Blackburn endorses Fred Thompson"
  25. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 

External links

Tennessee Senate
Preceded by
Keith Jordan
Member of the Tennessee State Senate for the 23rd District
1999 – 2003
Succeeded by
Jim Bryson
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ed Bryant
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th congressional district

2003 – present
Representatives to the 108th–111th United States Congresses from Tennessee (ordered by seniority)
108th Senate: B. Frist | L. Alexander House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis
109th Senate: B. Frist | L. Alexander House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis
110th Senate: L. Alexander | B. Corker House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis | S. Cohen | D. Davis
111th Senate: L. Alexander | B. Corker House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis | S. Cohen | P. Roe


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