Childhood & Early Life
Mark Raymond Kennedy was born on April 11, 1955 in Benson, Minnesota, and raised in Murdock and Pequot Lakes. Graduating from Pequot Lakes High School in 1975, he was the first boy in his family to attend college.
He graduated from St. John's University in 1979. He became a Certified Public Accountant and obtained his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business four years later.
He had never lived in a town of more than 1,000 until he joined college. His parents taught him the Minnesota values of hard work, common sense, faith in God, cooperation and a sense of optimism.
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Between 1983 and 1987, he worked for the Pillsbury Company, one of the world's largest producers of grain and foodstuffs, assisted their acquisition of Häagen-Dazs and arranged for financing to support their international expansion.
As a senior executive at Federated Department Stores between 1987 and 1992, he helped the company transform to become as Macy's, the world's leading department store and the largest fashion goods retailer.
He was profiled in May 1992's Institutional Investor Magazine, which featured him on its cover as one of “America's top CFOs”. At ShopKo Stores, he was responsible for merchandising, marketing and store management.
In 2000, he became the Republican nominee for the 2nd district and faced the four-term Democrat David Minge. Though he had never run for political office before he defeated Minge narrowly by 155 votes.
He faced Janet Robert, a lawyer and longtime Democratic activist. In one of the most expensive congressional races in Minnesota history, he was reelected with 57% of the vote in 2002.
He was the deciding vote in giving the President Fast track Authority to negotiate international agreements that the Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster, in 2002.
He voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, a federal law enacted in 2003. It produced the largest overhaul of Medicare in the public health program's 38-year history.
He voted in favor of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act- any physician who, knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion and thereby kills a human fetus shall be fined or imprisoned.
He voted for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004- a child in utero was considered a legal victim during the commission of any of the listed federal crimes of violence.
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In 2004, he faced Patty Wetterling, a U.S. advocate of children's safety whose son had been abducted and never found and received 54% percent of the popular vote to Wetterling's 46%.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 saves nearly $40 billion over five years from mandatory spending programs through slowing the growth in spending for Medicare and Medicaid, changing student loan formulas, and other measures.
His reputation as a reformer was further enhanced by his sponsorship of a lifetime ban on all members of Congress becoming lobbyists, full deductibility of medical expenses, Medicare Plan Enrollment Fraud Protection.
In 2006, he decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by DFL Senator Mark Dayton. He ran against Democrat Amy Klobuchar, who won receiving 58% of the vote to Kennedy's 38%.
In 2008, he co-founded the Economic Club of Minnesota (ECOM), a nonpartisan platform for national and international leaders in business, government, and public policy to present their ideas on how enhance Minnesota’ competitiveness.
In 2008, he established the Frontiers of Freedom Lecture Series at the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy at St. John’s University with the goal of adding real intellectual diversity to the Center.
In 2010, he formed Chartwell Strategic Advisors LLC for providing strategic advice in addition to public speaking at business conferences, executive education programs and public affairs forums.
In January 2012, Kennedy accepted the position of Director of the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, dedicated to educating principled leaders who help make democracy work.
Called by House colleagues as "one of the most effective freshmen we've seen in a long time" and "someone who does his homework," this Congressman quickly made his mark in Congress.
He is a Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor and a member of: the Watertown Lion's Club, the Tri-County Toastmasters, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the Farm Bureau.