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Michael represents the State of Colorado in the Senate, but he has not spent a lifetime in politics. He turned around failing businesses in the private sector and improved outcomes for kids as superintendent of the Denver Public Schools. He’s relentlessly focused on building opportunity for the next generation. He’s viewed as a thoughtful and pragmatic voice, and has won historically tough elections without compromising on his beliefs, core values, or positions on difficult issues.
Michael has experience winning tough races. He won elections in 2010 and 2016—both difficult cycles for Democrats—in a state that is a third Republican, a third Independent, and a third Democratic. In 2010, he prevailed in a general election that saw Democrats lose races up and down the ballot as the Tea Party wave swept America. During that race, Michael said he would be willing to lose his seat over voting for the Affordable Care Act; rather than shy away from the issue, he held town halls in Colorado’s most conservative counties defending his progressive position. In 2016, Michael won in areas of Colorado that Trump won, including Pueblo County, which he carried by nearly 10 percentage points. He won reelection with more votes than anyone in Colorado history. In interviews about the future of the Democratic Party following the 2016 election, President Barack Obama twice singled out Michael as someone to watch.
Michael tells it like it is. His “Ted Cruz speech” showed his ability to get attention and break through the noise. In a matter of hours, it became the most watched Senate floor speech in history. Given his reputation for not grandstanding, the speech struck a chord in part because it was an impromptu and refreshing moment in our politics. It was completely consistent with his record of being genuine and brutally honest.
Michael uses his experience outside of Washington to break through partisanship and drive progressive solutions. During his time representing Colorado in the Senate, Michael has authored innovative proposals to make education, health care, childcare, and housing more affordable and accessible for working families. He also has made climate change a top priority—helping farmers, ranchers, and rural communities become more resilient to changing weather and invest in clean energy.
Michael has been a pragmatic leader, fighting to overcome the dysfunction in Washington. As a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, he helped craft comprehensive immigration reform that overwhelmingly passed the Senate. He worked to dramatically reform No Child Left Behind, fast track the FDA approval process for breakthrough medical treatments, conserve iconic public lands, promote clean energy, and crack down on the illicit prescription of opioids. He also was central in crafting and passing the bipartisan Farm Bills in 2014 and 2018, which have provided much-needed stability for America’s farmers and ranchers.
To create durable policies, Michael believes we must fix our broken politics. He has plans to make partisan gerrymandering illegal, ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists, and dramatically change how we finance our campaigns.
Before his appointment to the Senate, Michael served as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, where he streamlined the budget, supported innovation in schools, and improved student outcomes. Before going to work for the City of Denver, he served as a Managing Director of the Anschutz Investment Company, helping turn around failing firms and saving jobs. Prior to that, he was an attorney with a major international law firm and served in the United States Department of Justice.
Michael is a member of the Senate Committees on Intelligence; Finance; and Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. He lives in Denver with his wife Susan Daggett, a natural resources attorney, and their three daughters: Caroline, Halina, and Anne.