After graduating from Mount Saint Agnes College (now a part of the Loyola College in Maryland), she obtained her masters degree in social work (MSW) from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She worked as a social worker for Catholic charities and Baltimore's Department of Social Services, helping at-risk children and educating seniors about the Medicare program. Mikulski became an activist social worker when she heard about plans to build a 16-lane highway through Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood. She helped organize communities on both sides of the city and stopped the construction of the road, saving Fells Point and Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Mikulski received her first national attention in 1970 as a result of a conference at Catholic University regarding “Ethnic Americans” convened by Msgr. Geno Baroni. Her message became one of the major documents of the “ethnic movement”.
Mikulski's activism led to a seat on the Baltimore City Council in 1971.
In 1976, she won the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional District of Maryland after the incumbent, Paul Sarbanes, made a successful run for the Senate. She was easily elected in November, winning 76% of the vote. She was re-elected four more times, never facing substantive opposition in the heavily Democratic district.
In 1986 Mikulski announced her retirement from politics. At the time of this announcement, it was expected that then-Governor Harry Hughes would run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Mathias. However, Hughes became caught up in the aftermath of the Maryland savings and loan crisis. He lost popularity with voters, opening the door for Mikulski's bid for the Senate. During the campaign, her opponent, Linda Chavez, made comments that Mikulski's supporters interpreted as an attempt to draw attention to the issue of Mikulski's sexual orientation. Mikulski never directly responded to the issue and eventually won the race with 61 percent of the vote. She was the first female Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right (not appointed or filling a seat of a deceased husband). Mikulski is one of 11 senators to vote against both the 1991 and 2002 resolutions authorizing the use of force in Iraq.
Mikulski, popularly known as "Senator Barb," was re-elected with large majorities in 1992, 1998 and 2004. Her next reelection will be in 2010. Many Democrats vow to oppose her reelection based on her vote in favor of the FISA bill, which granted immunity to the telecom companies who cooperated with the warrentless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.
In 2007, Mikulski endorsed her colleague, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for the President of the United States; Mikulski noted the leadership qualities within Clinton and cited her desire to break the "glass ceiling" by electing the first woman President.
On October 1st, 2008, Mikulski voted in favor of HR1424, the Senate version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, providing a $700 billion bail out to the United States financial market.
|1976||Congress, MD 3rd district||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||143,461||74.59%||Samuel Culotta||Republican||36,447||25.41%|
|1978||Congress, MD 3rd district||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||91,189||100%||Unopposed|
|1980||Congress, MD 3rd district||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||134,367||76.13%||Russell Schaffer||Republican||32,074||23.87%|
|1982||Congress, MD 3rd district||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||110,042||74.2%||Robert Scherr||Republican||38,259||25.8%|
|1984||Congress, MD 3rd district||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||133,189||68.21%||Ross Pierpont||Republican||59,493||30.47%|
|1986||MD Senator, Class 3||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||675,225||60.69%||Linda Chavez||Republican||437,411||39.31%|
|1992||MD Senator, Class 3||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||1,307,610||71%||Alan Keyes||Republican||533,688||28.98%|
|1998||MD Senator, Class 3||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||1,062,810||70.5%||Ross Pierpont||Republican||444,637||29.5%|
|2004||MD Senator, Class 3||General||Barbara Mikulski||Democratic||1,504,691||64.77%||E. J. Pipkin||Republican||783,055||33.71%|
Senator Hutchison Speaks on Senate Floor about Friend and Colleague Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Longest Serving Female Member of Congress
Mar 21, 2012; WASHINGTON -- The following information was released by Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison: Washington, D.C. Senator Kay Bailey...
SENATE FLOOR STATEMENT IN TRIBUTE TO SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI'S TENURE AS THE LONGEST SERVING FEMALE MEMBER OF CONGRESS.
Mar 21, 2012; WASHINGTON -- The following information was released by Michigan Senator Carl M. Levin: When you read over the long list of...