At a Glance
- Career History: director, Lake Erie Arboretum (1998-2008); co-owner, Dahlkemper Landscaping (1997-2008)
- Birthday: December 10, 1957
- Hometown: Erie, Pa.
- Alma Mater: Edinboro University, B.S. 1982
- Spouse: Dan
- Religion: Catholic
- Committees: Agriculture; Science and Technology; Small Business
- DC Office: 516 Cannon House Office Building, 202-225-5406
- District Office: Erie, 814-456-2038
- Web site
Path to Power
Born in 1957, Dahlkemper grew up in Erie, Pa. She graduated from Edinboro University in 1982 and became a dietitian in Houston. She returned to her hometown in 1986 to start her own consulting company, beginning a career as a small- business owner that would help her in her first political campaign more than 20 years later.
In 1997, Dahlkemper joined her second husband, Dan, in running the family landscaping business. In addition to raising five children, she also worked with civic groups and for a decade ran the Lake Erie Arboretum, a local tree museum.
Dahlkemper campaigned with an emphasis on the political center, mixing a critique of the Republican Congress and the Bush administration with conservative stances on social issues.
She joined the Blue Dog Democrats after arriving in Congress. In her first year in the House, Dahlkemper voted with fellow Democrats 94 percent of the time. Her most notable break with the party came in June 2009, when she opposed against cap-and-trade energy legislation.
Dahlkemper arrived in Washington with a relatively limited political network, not surprising given her lack of political experience before her upset congressional win. Instead, she turned to her neighborhood to fill her new House office. Most of the staffers Dahlkemper hired came from her network back home; they included friends, neighbors, high-school classmates and campaign volunteers.
The freshman congresswoman also appears to be forging strong ties with the Democratic leadership. She drew praise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in October 2009 when the speaker appeared with Dahlkemper at a press conference to announce that a bill Dahlkemper authored would be included in the final House health-care legislation.