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Ron Kind (D-Wis.)

U.S. Representative (since 1997)

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Why He Matters

A vice-chair of the House New Democrats Coalition, Kind holds a leadership role in what may be one of the most important voting blocs in the Democrat-controlled House.

A centrist group that generally favors the free market, the New Democrats may have a particularly important role to play in the battle over health-care reform. The group was generally supportive of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) domestic agenda, but Pelosi and other Democrats were concerned that the faction may block progress on health-care reform, as many New Democrats are wary of plans to establish a government provider of health insurance to compete with private insurers.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Wisconsin Representative (1989-1996); Farmer (1971- 1989)
  • Birthday: March 16, 1963
  • Hometown: La Crosse, Wis.
  • Alma Mater: Harvard University, B.A. 1985
  • Spouse: Tawni
  • Religion: Lutheran
  • Committees: Ways and Means, Natural Resources
  • DC Office: 1406 Longworth House Office Building Phone: 1-202-225-5506
  • District Offices: La Crosse205 Fifth Avenue S., Suite 400 La Crosse, WI 54601Phone 1-608-782-2558 Eau Claire131 S. Barstow St.Suite 301Eau Claire, WI 54701Phone:1-715-831-9214
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Path to Power

Kind grew up in a large working-class family in the small city of La Crosse on Wisconsin's western border; his father was a telephone repairman, and his mother worked as a secretary in the local schools. After graduating from La Crosse Logan High School where he excelled at both academics and football, Kind won a scholarship to Harvard where he played quarterback. He graduated with a B.A. in 1985.

Kind went on to earn a masters degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from the University of Minnesota. After graduating from law school, he worked for a big firm in Milwaukee for several years before returning to La Crosse in 1992 to work as an assistant prosecutor.

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The Issues

In his 12 years in the House, Kind has compiled a moderate voting record. He champions "pay as you go" budget rules that require spending cuts or tax increases for every new spending authority and other fiscally-conservative policies. But he has also pushed for affordable health insurance for small business owners and family farms. As a congressman from a rural district, Kind supports the agriculture industry, but also legislation that protects the environment. He co-founded the Upper Mississippi River Congressional Task Force and worked with other House members to establish a water-quality monitoring network in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.

Kind was criticized by liberals in his district for his 2002 vote in support of the Iraq war, but in October 2003 he worked (unsuccessfully) to pass an amendment that would dramatically cut U.S. funding for Iraqi reconstruction and instead call for more international contributions. He now supports redeploying American troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Kind has voted 94.5 percent of the time with his Democratic colleagues in the 111th Congress.Washington Post Congress Votes Database, Rep. Ron Kind

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The Network

A large part of Kind's network of political allies consists of fellow members of the New Democrats, a centrist group chaired by Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) (who is nominated for a post at the State Department). In March 2009, the group met with President Barack Obama, who said he also considers himself a New Democrat because of the group's centrist stances and appreciation for bipartisanship.

Kind clearly admires Obama's centrist approach, and has praised the president for being "intellectually curious" and "a good listener." "If he thinks it's a good idea, he's going to embrace it, regardless of its source," Kind said. In December 2008 Kind met with Obama's agriculture advisers, and his name was floated as a potential pick for Agriculture secretary.

 

Additional Resources

  1. Sternstein, Aliya, "Rep. Kind, Critic of Farm Subsidies, Meets With Obama Agriculture Team," Congressional Quarterly Today, Dec. 10, 2008
  2. "On the Issues: Iraq and Afghanistan." Congressman Ron Kind.
  3. Washington Post Congress Votes Database, Rep. Ron Kind
  4. Lindquist, Eric, "Kind supports targeted stimulus," The Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin), Jan. 13, 2009
  5. Harter, Kevin, "Candidates clash over free trade; Schultz backs new panel; Kind wants rules enforced," Saint Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota), Oct. 24, 2004
  6. Lindquist, Eric, "Kind, allies meet with Obama on economy," The Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin), March 11, 2009
  7. Glauber, Bill, "Biofuels could revive state's agriculture industry, lawmaker says," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 13, 2007
  8. "About Ron," Congressman Ron Kind.
  9. Harter, Kevin, "Candidates clash over free trade; Schultz backs new panel; Kind wants rules enforced," Saint Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota), Oct. 24, 2004
  10. Winter, Allison, "Reformers take last stab as farm bill nears deal," Environment and Energy Daily, Feb. 28, 2008
  11. Hirschfeld Davis, Julie, "House Democrats divided over farm bill," USA Today, July 24, 2007
  12. "House passes new farm bill, rejects Kind's amendment," Delta Farm Press, Aug. 3 2007
  13. National Journal's Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition
  14. "New Dems Announce New Leadership Slate," press release from the Office of Congressman Adam Smith, Nov. 18, 2008
  15. "On the Issues: Agriculture." Congressman Ron Kind
  16. Lindquist, Eric, "Kind, allies meet with Obama on economy," The Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin), March 11, 2009
  17. Ota, Alan K., "Pelosi Seeks to Bring New Democrat Coalition on Board With Health Care Overhaul," Congressional Quarterly Today, June 1, 2009
  18. Almanac of American Politics
  19. Sternstein, Aliya, "Rep. Kind, Critic of Farm Subsidies, Meets With Obama Agriculture Team," Congressional Quarterly Today, Dec. 10, 2008