When Americans heard that U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., will deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday, many of them answered with a collective, “Who?”
While McMorris Rodgers is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, she’s not well known to the general public. Choosing her to rebut Obama on the world stage is a departure from last year, when the GOP picked rising-star Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to do its bidding. Rubio famously flubbed one of his lines with a mad dash for a bottle of water -- an incident that became the most talked-about moment of the evening. He handled it gracefully, immediately posting a photo of the bottle in question to his Twitter account, but there’s no question the content of his speech was outshined by Poland Spring.
While it’s likely that McMorris Rodgers will keep well-hydrated to avoid a similar meme-worthy flub this year, few viewers know what else to expect from the Washington State lawmaker. Americans, and in particular members of McMorris Rodgers’ own party, are no doubt wondering where she stands on key social and economic issues. What is McMorris Rodgers’ voting record?
If you count yourself among those wondering, here is a primer. McMorris Rodgers, 44, has been on Capitol Hill for almost a decade, representing Eastern Washington’s fifth district. According to her bio, she has strong family roots in the Walla Walla area. (To the unaffiliated, Eastern Washington serves as the conservative yang to the liberal yin of Seattle-dominated Western Washington.) McMorris Rodgers says she is the first in her family to graduate from college, and that she worked her way through Florida’s Pensacola Christian College, later earning her executive MBA from the University of Washington.
While McMorris Rodgers says she prides herself on working across party lines, her voting record is firmly conservative. She opposed legislation encouraging equal pay for women and federal funds for abortion, as Reuters reported. She also voted against Obamacare and the president’s 2009 economic stimulus measure. In her bio, she states that she is a “strong supporter of the traditional family, the pro-life cause and the Second Amendment.”
For what it’s worth, Rep. is relatively savvy on social media, with more than 17,100 Twitter followers and over 15,100 Facebook fans. She’s also active on Instagram, recently posting a photo of herself holding her 2-month-old daughter and a copy of her State of the Union remarks.
The response to the State of the Union Address is sometimes seen as a politician’s first test on the road to a higher profile, as was the case last year with Rubio, whose name is still tossed around as a possible presidential candidate in 2016. McMorris Rodgers’ big night comes as the Republican Party is scrambling for ways to soften its image with women voters, a rift that was exasperated last week in the wake of Mike Huckabee’s instantly-infamous “libido” comment. In 2012, McMorris Rodgers was said to be on the short list of possible running-mates for then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as the Daily Caller reported. So it should go without saying that a lot is riding on her remarks tonight.
Following McMorris Rodgers’ response to the State of the Union Address, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., will deliver the Tea Party response. For more on McMorris Rodgers’ voting record, visit this link from Project Vote Smart.
The 2014 State of the Union Address will take place on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Christopher Zara covers media, culture, entertainment and the arts. He joined IBTimes in June 2012. From 2005 to 2012, he served as managing editor of Show Business, a trade...