U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, is speaking during the Thursday night closing session of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, as part of the daily theme, “Make America One Again.” Blackburn’s primetime spot precedes RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, evangelical and President of Liberty University Jerry Falwell, Jr., daughter of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and then Trump himself.
A 62-year-old married mother of two and grandmother, Blackburn began her professional career in sales and is now the owner of a promotion-event managing firm. She is a fiscal and social conservative who has pushed back against abortion and opposed the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”
Here is what you need to know about Blackburn:
1. Blackburn is Ranked ‘One of the Most Reliable,’ Conservative Republican Votes in Congress
Ranked the 15th most conservative member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Blackburn, a GOP veteran, is also one of the most reliable Republican votes, open-data government-tracking website GovTrack reports.
The American Conservative Union gave her a 96 grade in 2015 — on a scale of 100 — and a lifetime rating of 95.96.
Blackburn served in the Tennessee State Senate before joining Congress, where she “became known to Tennesseans for holding ‘Budget Schools’ both in her district and across the state; identifying waste, proposing realistic spending cuts, and offering solutions for a state in a budget crunch,” her legislative bio states.
2. She Fought an Abortion Bill by Showing a Picture of Her Grandson in Utero
A 2014 Democratic proposal to override most federal and state abortion bans was met with opposition by states-rights and pro-life Republicans, including Blackburn. The Tennessean showed the committee a sonogram of her unborn grandson, hoping to prove a point.
“This is the wonder of science,” Blackburn said. “I could see his arms and legs, I could see him peacefully resting in his mother’s womb.”
Blackburn added: “Our Constitution does not put a qualifier on life. The pursuits of ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness'” include “the mother’s womb.”
Blackburn was tapped by House Republican leadership to manage the debate of a GOP-backed House bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Her appointment came after Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona) made comment in a House Judiciary Committee meeting that “the incidence of rape resulting from pregnancy is very low,” according to Bloomberg News.
3. Blackburn Spoke at The 2008 & 2012 GOP Conventions
Blackburn is a veteran at the GOP National Convention, both on stage and off. She was named a delegate in the 1992 convention — and has addressed the national Republicans during the past two Presidential elections.
She supported Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin in their unsuccessful bid for the White House in 2008. During that year’s GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., Blackburn touted Palin as a fresh voice in Washington.
“Vice President Sarah Palin is going to be the most action-oriented problem-solving revolutionary second-in-command this country has ever known,” Blackburn said to applause. “My fellow Tennesseans and I already know and respect John McCain, and we love his straight talk and his unyielding sense of honor. And last night, my NASCAR dads fell in love with Alaska’s hockey mom.”
After Palin took the stage at that convention, Blackburn defended Palin, Nashville Public Radio reported.
Blackburn’s speech at the Tampa, Fla., 2012 Republican National Convention was focused on the GOP platform, according to the Commercial Appeal. “She said the platform was a ‘remarkable exercise in grass-roots democracy’ and shows the party’s pledge to ‘create the millions of jobs we need in order to get America back to work,'” the newspaper reported.
Named by Trump as a headliner for Thursday night’s closing session — “Make America One Again” — Blackburn has discussed the energy of the 2016 convention, the votes against Trump, Melania Trump’s speech (“You have to wonder what the speechwriter was thinking.”) and her hopes for a Republican administration in the White House.
4. Blackburn’s Net Worth is About a Half-Million
The Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org lists Blackburn’s 2015 net worth at $456,513. Of the 435 members of the House, Blackburn is ranked 280th.
In 2014, the last year of available data, Blackburn reported between $346,016 to $940,000 in assets and between $300,002 to $600,000 in liabilities, which includes two mortgages.
The base annual salary for a member of Congress, including Blackburn, is $174,000.
5. Blackburn’s Husband Chuck Founded a Bow Tie Group
The Blackburn couple has two children, Mary and Chad, who are married to Paul Ketchel and Hillary Blackburn, respectively. They also have two grandsons.