Michael Farrand Bennet (born November 28, 1964) is an American businessman, lawyer, and politician. He is currently the junior United States Senator from Colorado, and a member of the Democratic Party. He previously worked as managing director for the Anschutz Investment Company, chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Born in New Delhi, he is the son of Douglas J. Bennet, a former State Department official and college president. In high school Bennet worked as a Senate page on Capitol Hill. After graduating from Wesleyan University he worked for Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. He went on to receive his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. He worked as a law clerk and later as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration. Bennet worked for six years with the Anschutz Investment Company in Denver. As Managing Director he led the reorganizations of four distressed companies, requiring the restructuring of over $3 billion in debt. As chief of staff to Mayor Hickenlooper, he worked on balancing budgets and negotiating collective-bargaining agreements. He became superintendent of the Denver public school system in July 2005, where he revised a merit pay proposal with the support of local teachers. Acknowledging his work in Denver, Time magazine listed him among the nation's eleven leading educational activists in 2011. As one of President Barack Obama's early advisers on education issues, Bennet was speculated in late 2008 as a frontrunner for Obama's United States Secretary of Education. He was instead appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar when Salazar became Secretary of the Interior in January 2009. Bennet was re-elected in the 2010 Senate election where he defeated Republican Ken Buck. Now serving his first full term, he is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources.
Bennet began his career in public service when he was elected by overwhelming margins to be Senior Class Treasurer in high school in 1982. Six years later he served as an aide to Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. In 1990, he left Ohio public service in order to attend law school. He then served as Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General during Bill Clinton's administration. His father, Douglas J. Bennet, worked in the Clinton White House as well, as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs.
Bennet then entered the business world, working for 6 years in Denver as Managing Director for the Anschutz Investment Company where he had direct responsibility for the investment of over $500 million. He led the reorganizations of four distressed companies including Forcenergy (which later merged with Denver-based Forest Oil), Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theaters, which together required the restructuring of over $3 billion in debt. Bennet also managed, on behalf of Anschutz, the consolidation of the three theater chains into Regal Entertainment Group, the largest motion picture exhibitor in the world.
Moving back into public service, Bennet served for 2 years as the Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Highlights of his accomplishments at the city include: closing an initial 10-percent budget gap in the first two months of office; balancing two consecutive budgets in Denver's worst recession in history while preserving city services; conducting five collective-bargaining negotiations; devising strategies to pass five ballot initiatives; and assembling a very diverse, widely acknowledged leadership team for the city.
Bennet was appointed superintendent of Denver Public Schools on June 27, 2005, taking office on the following July 1. During his tenure, he revised a merit pay proposal that earned the support of local teacherS and he was initially opposed to closing the failing Manual High School, which was later reopened.
Bennet was among the many officials whose names were circulated for United States Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration, which was eventually filled by Arne Duncan. 2008 Democratic primarieS and he was among those who advised Barack Obama on education issues.
Bennet and his wife were early supporters of Barack Obama's presidential bid during the
On January 3, 2009, he was named by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to fill the seat in the United States Senate vacated by United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on January 20. Since taking office on January 21, 2009, he has stated that he will seek election at the end of his term in 2010.
2010 U.S. Senate election
Bennet is seeking election at the end of his term in 2010. On September 16, 2009, Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff officially announced his campaign to challenge Bennet for the Democratic nomination. Bennet has received endorsements from President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Mark Udall, and U.S. Representatives Betsy Markey, Jared Polis, and John Salazar of the Colorado congressional delegation.
On August 10, 2010, Bennet defeated Romanoff in the primary and won his party's nomination for Senate. Bennet faces Republican candidate Ken Buck.
Bennet voted in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. In November 2009, when the bill was still working its way through Congress, Bennet stated, during a CNN interview, that he would support health care reform even if it meant losing the election. In his speeches on the floor, Bennet emphasized reports by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to argue that a vote for health care reform is fiscally responsible.