Moseley Braun was first elected to public office in 1978, as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. There, she rose to the post of assistant majority leader. As a State Representative, she became recognized as a champion for education, governmental reform, and civil rights. As early as 1984, she proposed a moratorium on the application in Illinois of the death penalty. And in what became a landmark reapportionment case, Crosby vs State Board of Elections, she successfully sued her own party and the state of Illinois on behalf of African American and Hispanic citizens. When she left the state legislature in 1987, her colleagues recognized her in a resolution as "the conscience of the House." That same year, she was elected as Cook County, Illinois, Recorder of Deeds, a post she held for four years.
In 1991, angered by incumbent Democratic senator Alan Dixon's vote to confirm Clarence Thomas, Moseley Braun challenged him in the primary election. Candidate Albert Hofeld's campaign ran many anti-Dixon ads, and Braun won the primary, ultimately defeating Richard S. Williamson in the Senate election. On November 3, 1992, she became the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Senate. Her election marked the first time Illinois had elected a woman, and the first time a black person was elected as a Democratic Party candidate to the United States Senate. She was one of two African Americans to serve in the Senate in the 20th century, and was the sole African American in the Senate from 1993 to 1999.
Despite her reputation as a liberal, Moseley Braun possessed something of a centrist record on economic issues. She voted for the 1993 budget package and against the welfare reform laws passed in 1996, but on many other matters she was more moderate. Moseley Braun voted in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and lawsuit reform measures like the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (she was also among the minority of Democrats to support the even more controversial Common Sense Product Liability and Legal Reform Act of 1995). She also voted contrary to the interests of the more populist wing of the party by voting for the Freedom to Farm Act and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Like her colleague fellow Illinois Democrat Paul Simon, she voted in favor of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution and also to place a nuclear dump in Nevada, a move strongly opposed by many Democrats especially current Majority Leader Harry Reid.
On social issues however, she was significantly more liberal than many of her fellow senators. She was strongly pro-choice, voting against the ban on partial-birth abortions and the restrictions on funding in military bases for abortions. She also voted against the death penalty and in favor of gun control measures. Moseley Braun was one of only sixteen senators to vote against the Communications Decency Act and one of only fourteen to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. She delivered a eulogy to Thurgood Marshall on January 26 1993.
In 1998, after George Will wrote a column reviewing the allegations of corruption against her, she responded to Will's comments, saying that "I think because he couldn't say nigger, he said corrupt." She also compared Will to a Ku Klux Klansman, saying "I mean this very sincerely from the bottom of my heart: He can take his hood and put it back on again, as far as I'm concerned. Later, Braun apologized for her remarks.
She announced her intention to run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in February 2003. On January 15 2004, four days before the Iowa caucuses, Moseley Braun dropped out of the race and endorsed Howard Dean.
|List of people endorsing Carol Moseley Braun's 2000 Presidential bid|
|38%||Alan Dixon (inc.)||35%||Albert Hofeld||18%|
|Year||Democrat||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|1992||2,631,229||53%||Richard S. Williamson||2,126,833||43%||Chad Koppie||Conservative||100,422||2%||Spiegel||Libertarian||34,527||1%||Winter||Natural Law||15,118||<1%||Port||New Alliance||12,689||<1%||Kathleen Kaku||Socialist Workers||10,056||<1%||John Justice||Populist||8,656||<1%||*|
|1998||Carol Moseley Braun||1,610,496||47%||1,709,041||50%||Don A. Torgersen||Reform||74,704||2%||*|
Profile: Carol Moseley-Braun, first black woman elected to the US Senate, to run for Democratic presidential nomination
Feb 21, 2003; 00-00-0000 Profile: Carol Moseley-Braun, first black woman elected to the US Senate, to run for Democratic presidential...