Lisa Blunt Rochester: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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U.S. Congress Lisa Blunt Rochester.

Lisa Blunt Rochester is a congresswoman representing Delaware and she is also the assistant whip for the House leadership, working closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi according to her biography.

Rochester sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and has also focused on bringing racial equity in the areas of environmentalism, criminal justice and agriculture; she also has done work in healthcare and specifically, on a bipartisan heroin task force.

She is also on the list of speakers for the Democratic National Convention and has been spotlighted as a politician very close to Biden.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Rochester’s Election To Congress Made History

Candidate Conversations 2016 – Lisa Blunt Rochester (U.S. House race)Delaware Public Media's Candidate Conversation with Democratic candidate for U.S. House, Lisa Blunt Rochester. Candidate Conversations are part of Delaware Public Media’s 2016 Election Coverage – and Delaware Debates 2016 DPM is producing again this fall with the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication. For Candidate Conversations, Delaware Public Media reached out to all…2016-08-19T16:20:32Z

Rochester grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and her first job was at McDonald’s, according to her biography. Rochester’s father, however, was a city council member in Wilmington for more than 20 years, CBS News reported. Rochester went on to earn a degree in International Relations from Fairleigh Dickinson University and earned a master’s degree from the University of Delaware.

In 1988, she was an intern for Delaware Senator Tom Carper, moving up the ranks to become Delaware labor secretary, CBS News reported.

Rochester made history as the first Black woman to represent Delaware in Congress when she won her seat in 2016 and she also won 60% of the vote during the midterms, the Delaware News Journal reported. When she was sworn in, she wore a white scarf that featured her great-great-great grandfather’s Reconstruction Era voter registration card, CBS News reported; that relative was a former slave who – even though he had to sign his name with an X – wanted to vote.

According to her biography, Rochester still lives in Wilmington, which is also located near her adult children, Alex and Alyssa, and her daughter-in-law Ebony.


2. As A Congresswoman, Rochester Introduced An Act Focused on Improving Air Quality, Among Others

According to Govtrack.us, Rochester co-sponsored 349 bills during the 2019 legislative year. A bill that she introduced, the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, passed in 2019; it required the EPA Administrator to identify and publish unregulated contaminants and collect more data on the connections between health and contaminants in water.

According to Rochester’s biography, she also helped write the 2018 Farm Bill as a member of the House Committee on Agriculture. Working with Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, the air quality bill would require monitoring of air pollutants and their contributions to cancer rates and other health issues in neighborhoods nearby. “In the midst of a global health pandemic which attacks the respiratory system, we’ve seen in incredibly stark terms the compounding dangers of polluted air for front-line communities. But the truth is that these communities have been subject to unsafe air for decades and have suffered the long-term health consequences and complications because of it,” Rochester said.

Rochester has strongly supported Biden’s plan to help Black farmers, which proposes pledged to reduce discrimination against Black farmers and to provide aid that would support and strengthen the remaining farmers, The Grio reported. She supported the original 2018 farm bill, which provided farmers with $870 billion to help reduce the digital divide and food insecurity.


3. Rochester, Also A Delaware Politician, Said Biden Had To Earn Her Support

Biden first mentioned the Blunt family during the Iowa caucuses, CBS News reported, saying that his significant support from Black voters was because of “great African-American leaders back home in my state,” before going on to list Blunt’s father and Blunt’s sister – former Biden staffer Marla Blunt-Carter – among them.

However, before that, Rochester said that she grilled Biden, despite having known him for 30 years. She spoke to him for two-and-a-half hours, during which she said he said he was going to choose a woman as his vice president. However, she had other questions, according to what she said during an “All in Together” live-stream.

“People thought because I’m from Delaware and Joe Biden’s from Delaware, I’m going to automatically endorse or support,” she said. “But I had to have my own conversation. Not with my delegation but me, as a black woman, to ask questions that I had about the [1994] crime bill, about Anita Hill, about what kind of staff are you going to hire for the campaign? About what kind of staff are you going to hire when you get in?”

Whatever answers Biden gave during that two-and-a-half-hour conversation were enough for Rochester, who has been with working with Biden on his presidential campaign ever since.


4. Rochester Helped Vet Kamala Harris, CBS News Reported

Biden asked Rochester to be a cochair of the team vetting Biden’s vice-presidential picks, WFMJ-21 reported.

According to CBS News, Rochester’s former boss Tom Carper told her that she should use the opportunity to try and convince Biden that she should be on the presidential ticket; however, she said she was satisfied with her position.

She joined Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd as a co-chair, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Ohio’s Cynthia Hogan and lawyers Bob Bauer and Dana Remus. During that live-stream, Blunt said that she wanted to speak up for Black women and ensure their qualifications were fairly represented, CBS News reported.


5. Rochester Is Slated To Speak At The Democratic National Convention

Rochester is scheduled to speak on the second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, August 18 from 9-11 p.m. You can watch the live-stream here.

Others slated to speak during the DNC‘s second night include Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former presidential candidate and Secretary of State John Kerry, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Biden’s wife Dr. Jill Biden.

Rochester is expected to deliver the same support she has on social media and in interviews during her speech. “I will always remember how proud we all felt on that day in 2008 when our own @JoeBiden was selected as @BarackObama’s VP. Now, we are 89 days away from getting him elected president and to restoring the very soul of our nation — let’s get to work!” she wrote on Twitter August 5.

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