Michael Bennet was born in New Delhi where his father was an aide to the U.S. ambassador. Bennet now lives in Denver. He earned a bachelor's from Wesleyan University, where his father was president, and a law degree from Yale University, where he edited the Yale Law Journal.
Bennet was counsel to the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department during President Bill Clinton's administration. He served as chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and as superintendent of Denver Public Schools.
Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009 by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to replace Ken Salazar, who was named interior secretary in the administration of President Barack Obama.
Bennet and his wife, Susan, have three daughters.
Michael Bennet built a career in public service but never held an elected public office until his appointment to the U.S. Senate in 2009.
Former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter appointed Bennet to serve the remaining two years of Colorado's then-senior Sen. Ken Salazar, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as interior secretary. The choice surprised many because some sitting members of Congress and prominent state lawmakers had expressed interest in the position.
Bennet spent his first months in office aligning himself with fellow Democrats in the Senate and in the White House. He routinely praised Obama's economic stimulus package, and Bennet voted in 2010 for the health care reform bill and for legislation overhauling financial industry regulations.
Relying heavily on talent from Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, Bennet fought off a Democratic primary challenge and a Republican challenger in 2010 to earn his first full term in the Senate.
Colorado's 2010 Senate race was a bright spot for Democrats nationally, when many Democratic incumbents fell after a year of protests against the health care reform law. Bennet's campaign successfully steered Republican Ken Buck off his economic message and got voters talking about Buck's social conservatism, especially his opposition to abortion rights.
Bennet was aided by Buck missteps, including an appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press" in which Buck compared being gay to being an alcoholic. Bennet's key to victory was women in the Denver suburbs, where moderates and even some Republicans chose Bennet over Buck. An ad aired by Bennet, showing suburban women saying "I just can't do it," referring to voting for Buck, was widely praised in political circles as among the most effective ads anywhere in the country in 2010. Bennet won 48 percent to 47 percent. His campaign manager, Guy Cecil, is now executive director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Bennet returned to Washington with a full term in his own right and a plan to focus on nuts-and-bolts reforms and measures to help Colorado's economy. In 2011, Bennet joined a handful of Senate Democrats to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's campaign finance ruling in the Citizens United decision. That effort was unsuccessful.
Bennet and fellow Colorado Sen. Mark Udall have also pushed for renewal of the federal Wind Energy Tax Credit, a tax break that would benefit Vestas, a major wind-turbine maker with plants in Colorado. Bennet's office also took the lead in lobbying for a new satellite office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to place one of three new locations in metro Denver. The U.S. Commerce Department agreed and announced Denver as a site, along with Dallas-Fort Worth and San Jose, Calif., on July 2, 2012.
Committee Assignments: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Special Aging; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
American Conservative Union Rating: 5
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 90
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 48% (2010).
(Last updated by Kristen Wyatt on July 12, 2012.)