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Patty Murray

Patty Murray (born October 11, 1950) is a Democratic United States Senator from Washington. She was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and has held the position ever since.

Murray was born in Bothell, Washington. Her father fought in World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart. Her mother was an accountant.

Murray received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University in 1972. She was a preschool teacher for several years and taught at Shoreline Community College from 1984 to 1987.

As a citizen lobbyist for environmental and educational issues, she was once told that she couldn't make a difference because she was just a "mom in tennis shoes." The phrase stuck, and she later used it in her successful campaigns for Shoreline School District Board of Directors (1985-1989), Washington State Senate (1989-1993), and United States Senate (1993-).

She was the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2001 to 2003, and she is currently the ranking member of the United States Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.

In December 2002, Murray made the following controversial comments before a high school audience at Vancouver, Washington:

Osama bin Laden has been very, very effective being we've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world?

Why are people so supportive of him in many countries? He has been in many countries that are riddled with poverty.

People don't have phones, no sewers, no roads, no schools, no health care, no facilities just to make sure their daily lives are OK.

He's been out in these countries for decades building roads, building schools, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. It made their lives better.

We have not done that. We haven't been out in many of these countries helping them build infrastructure.

How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?

Critics instantly accused Murray of calling bin Laden a humanitarian and being misinformed. Her defenders said that Murray was right to ask why bin Laden was popular so that the United States could fight him at the source, and that her remarks were mostly accurate. The Seattle Weekly, for example, said that while her remarks were simplistic, Osama bin Laden "did, according to several respected sources, help build roads, tunnels, schools, and hospitals [but not day care centers] for decades in Afghanistan."

Washington's two biggest papers, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer also defended Murray, as did the Bellingham Herald. Her in-state critics included the Columbian and the News Tribune.

Her husband is Rob Murray. They have two children, Randy and Sara.

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