Michael Baumgartner

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Michael Baumgartner
Michael Baumgartner 2013 Senate Session.jpg
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 6th district
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Preceded byChris Marr
Succeeded byJeff Holy (elect)
Personal details
Michael James Baumgartner

(1975-12-13) December 13, 1975 (age 43)
Pullman, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Eleanor Mayne
EducationWashington State University,
Harvard University (MPA)
WebsiteSenate website

Michael James Baumgartner (born December 13, 1975)[1] is a member of the Washington State Senate and a Republican. He was the 2012 Republican nominee for U.S Senate (United States Senate election in Washington, 2012), unsuccessfully challenging Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

State Senator Michael Baumgartner, with his son, Conrad.

Baumgartner was born in Pullman. His mother is a Kindergarten teacher and his father was a professor of Forestry and Natural Resource Sciences. After graduating from Pullman High School, he earned a scholarship to attend Washington State University. There, he was awarded a Thomas Foley scholarship, and was named a Stephenson scholar, an award given to the top graduates from the Honors College. He graduated in 1999 with a degree in Economics with minors in French and Mathematics. In 2002, he earned a master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.

During the Iraq War, he served as the Economics Officer in the Office of Joint Strategic Planning & Assessment (JSPA) at the United States Embassy in Baghdad, helping the Iraqi government as part of the Baghdad Security Plan, receiving accolades from then General David Petraeus as well as Ambassador Ryan Crocker.[2] In 2008, he spent 7 months working as a civilian contractor in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. That same year, the Boston Globe referred to Baumgartner as the "Architect of Hope" in the Middle East.[3][4]

Michael and his wife Eleanor met while working in Afghanistan, and were married in 2010. They have three sons and one daughter. In early 2018, they lost their fifth baby after suffering a late miscarriage.

Washington State Senate[edit]

State Senator Baumgartner and former General David Petraeus, August 28, 2009

Baumgartner represents parts of the City of Spokane (map), Airway Heights, and Cheney including Eastern Washington University.


In late 2009, Baumgartner decided to run against Democratic State Senate Majority Whip Chris Marr for the Washington State Senate, 6th Legislative District seat. On August 17, 2010, in the state primary election, Baumgartner defeated Marr with 53% of the vote.[5] In the November election, he officially defeated Marr with 54% of the vote.[6] The election battle between Marr and Baumgartner is considered one of the most hotly contested and expensive state legislative races in Washington state history.

During his campaign for State Senate, Baumgartner said he would not support a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy in cases of rape.[7] In that same year, Baumgartner signed the Spokane County Republican Party Platform which called for the privatizing of Social Security, the abolition of the United States Department of Education, the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations, withdrawal of the United States from the World Trade Organization, and the abolition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.[8]

Washington State Senate election from the 6th District, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Michael Baumgartner 33,929 54
Democratic Chris Marr (Incumbent) 29,237 46


During his tenure as Washington State Senator, Baumgartner has sponsored keynote legislation such as an amendment to the Washington State Senate to rise Higher Education to the State's #2 focus, reorganizing and streamlining central service functions, powers, and duties of the State Government, and reforming the rule-making process for State Economic Policy (the latter two receiving 47–0 votes in the State Senate).[9]

In 2012 Baumgartner was named one of the National Federation of Independent Business's Guardians of Business, the highest award they offer, in recognition of his votes that side "100 Percent" with small businesses.[10] The Association of Washington Business has awarded him their 'Cornerstone Award' also, in recognition of his support for employers, economic development, and business-related issues in the Washington State Legislature.[11]

Committee assignments[edit]

In 2011 and 2012, Baumgartner was the ranking minority member of the Economic Development Trade & Innovation Committee, served on the Ways & Means Committee, and the Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee.[12]

In 2013, two Democrats joined with the 23 Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus.[13] With the new coalition, Baumgartner was named Vice-Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and was also assigned to the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, the Higher Education Committee, and the Human Services and Corrections Committee.[14]

2012 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In October 2011, Baumgartner decided to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Cantwell was running for her third term.[15] Washington uses a "top-two" nonpartisan blanket primary system, in which the top two candidates of any party in the primary election advance to the general election. Cantwell and Baumgartner finished first and second, respectively, and competed in the general election.

Baumgartner has formally endorsed Washington Initiative 502 to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adults 21 and over, making him the first and only candidate for statewide office in Washington state to do so, and taking a position that wasn't popular in his party.[16][17]

In the November general election, Cantwell defeated Baumgartner. Cantwell received over 60% of the vote, to Baumgarter's 40%.

Notable Achievements and Votes[edit]

Spokane’s North-South freeway: Baumgartner fought to secure the $900 million funding needed to complete the north-south corridor route first proposed sixty years ago, and was the sole local Republican to support the major transportation package.[18]

College Tuition Cut: Baumgartner led efforts to secure a historic, unprecedented cut in college tuition across Washington State.

WSU’s new medical school: Baumgartner helped lead successful efforts for a new medical school in Spokane, helping address physician shortages in underserved areas of eastern Washington, and boosting healthcare economy jobs growth. Baumgartner introduced legislation to overturn a 100-year-old law that had given the University of Washington a monopoly on training doctors in the state.[19][20]

Charter schools: Baumgartner has consistently fought for charter schools, in the face of determined opposition from the Washington State teachers’ union WEA.[21][22]

Transparency: In February 2018 Senator Baumgartner was one of a handful of Washington State legislators to vote against a bill that would have exempted legislators from public records rules.[23]

Calls for reform of student conduct process: In 2016, Baumgartner took an outspoken stand against the expulsion of an American Samoan student, Robert Barber, from Washington State University. Barber had been only one credit short of a college degree when he was accused of involvement in a brawl. Baumgartner told a meeting of WSU regents: "If you don’t fix this, I goddamn will." Barber was reinstated to the student body, and was later found innocent of all criminal charges.[24][25][26]

Concluding the 2018 legislative session, Baumgartner introduced a satirical resolution calling for April 1 to be celebrated as "Governor Jay Inslee Integrity Day", mocking the Governor for his about-turn on vetoing public records legislation.[27][28]

Champion of Freedom: In 2018, the Washington Policy Center think-tank announced that Senator Baumgartner would be presented with their prestigious "Champion of Freedom" award, in recognition "for his outstanding commitment to free-market principles, worker rights and limited government, particularly in advancing labor reform in our state. WPC’s board chose Sen. Baumgartner for this award in recognition of his unwavering principled stand on numerous key during his many years in the State Senate."[29]


  1. ^ "Michael Baumgartner (R) - Candidate for US Senate". KHQ. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  2. ^ "Honors College: Michael Baumgartner". Honors.wsu.edu. 2006-02-14. Archived from the original on 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  3. ^ "What I'd rather read - The Boston Globe". Boston.com. 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  4. ^ "Vote Michael Baumgartner for US Senate". Baumgartnerforsenate.com. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  5. ^ "WA State Senate District 6 - Open Primary Race - Aug 17, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  6. ^ "WA State Senate District 6 Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  7. ^ Brunt, Jonathan (October 30, 2010). "Spin Control". Spokesman Review. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  8. ^ Feit, Josh (October 3, 2011). "Baumgartner Announces Candidacy; Addresses Controversial Pledge". Seattle Met. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  9. ^ "Bill Sponsorship". Leg.wa.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-08-07. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  11. ^ "Home - Senate Republican Caucus". senaterepublicans.wa.gov. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  12. ^ "Baumgartner". Leg.wa.gov. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  13. ^ "2 Dems join GOP in state Senate coup, say parties will split power | Politics Northwest". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  14. ^ "Baumgartner named vice chair of budget-writing Ways and Means Committee as part of Majority Coalition Caucus". Michael Baumgartner. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  15. ^ "Washington - Oregon - Idaho". Nwcn.com. 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  16. ^ "Baumgartner endorses marijuana initiative". Spin Control (blog). The Spokesman-Review. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
  17. ^ "Cantwell's GOP Foe Wants Legal Pot". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
  18. ^ Walters, Daniel. "The Two Baumgartners". Inlander. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  19. ^ "This web page could not be loaded". eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  20. ^ "Gov. Jay Inslee signs WSU medical school legislation | WSU Insider | Washington State University". WSU Insider. 2015-04-01. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  21. ^ "This web page could not be loaded". eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  22. ^ Criscione, Wilson. "Baumgartner to Spokane charter schools: 'We're going to continue to need your help'". Inlander. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  23. ^ "This web page could not be loaded". eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  24. ^ "State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, Jack Thompson, others point to Robert Barber in call for WSU student conduct reform". The Seattle Times. 2016-10-31. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  25. ^ "Forum at WSU brings threats by state Sen. Michael Baumgartner amid impassioned defense of football player Robert Barber". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  26. ^ "Acquitted of assault, former WSU lineman Robert Barber 'hoping to get on with his life and into the NFL'". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  27. ^ "This web page could not be loaded". eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  28. ^ ""Governor Inslee Integrity Day"? - Washington State Wire". Washington State Wire. 2018-03-05. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  29. ^ "2018 Annual Dinner". eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike McGavick
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Washington
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Susan Hutchison