NEWS: Member Spotlight: Mary Bono Mack

May 8, 2012

Today’s Washington Post profiles Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and her efforts for women, jobs, and a strong economy. As a working mom and new grandmother, Bono Mack is leading the committee’s efforts to promote manufacturing job growth and safeguard the Internet.

In an interview with Roll Call, Bono Mack gives a glimpse into her life beyond Capitol Hill. Juggling committee meetings, votes, the campaign trail, and her family, Bono Mack still finds time for a wide range of interests.

Mary Bono Mack juggles new roles, on and off the Hill

Washington Post
By Ben Pershing
May 7, 2012

Rep. Mary Bono Mack is all over the map.

In Washington, the longtime Republican lawmaker from California is an increasingly prominent player on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, while also trying to be a voice for two constituencies — moderates and women — that she believes don’t always receive the requisite attention within the House Republican Conference.

In Palm Springs, she is facing a spirited reelection challenge. In Florida, she’s the wife of a Senate candidate. And on the national stage, she’s a high-profile surrogate for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. Oh, and in Northern Virginia, she’s a first-time grandmother.

So how can she possibly divide her time so many ways?

”For every working mom, there’s a working balance, a very delicate balance to strike,” Bono Mack said in an interview last week. That can mean not seeing her husband for long stretches. Or it can mean turning down a “Meet the Press” appearance so she can spend time with her family, as was the case recently.

Bono Mack’s willingness to speak for and about women is part of what made the Romney campaign recently push her to the forefront, when the presumed Republican nominee was being attacked for having an unclear position on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

”Women in the Obama economy are facing hardships of historical proportions,” Bono Mack said in response, prompting Democrats to note that she had joined nearly all her fellow Republicans in voting against the Lilly Ledbetter measure in 2009.

But Bono Mack doesn’t necessarily see herself as a top voice on “women’s issues.”

”The strange thing about me is that I don’t believe there is a separate set of ‘women’s issues.’ I’m one who believes women care about the same issues men do,” Bono Mack said, although she did allow that women “relate differently to candidates” than men do. …

Back on Capitol Hill, Bono Mack recently helped found the Women’s Policy Committee, which she hopes will serve as a lobbying force within the Republican Conference.

”When our leadership makes a puzzling decision .?.?. I want to have the opportunity for us to come together as a group of women to discuss with leadership how things can be better done,” Bono Mack said.

Although she declined to specify any instances in which she felt the leadership had neglected their views, Bono Mack said she thinks Republican women in Congress are too little-known and that is hurting the party’s efforts with female voters. …

Similarly, Bono Mack — who has a center-right voting record and is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership — said that what she and her fellow moderates “would like is more of an opportunity to explain to the leadership what we think ought to be happening.”

Previously a fitness instructor and restaurant manager, Bono Mack had no political experience when she was elected to the House in 1998, following Sonny Bono’s death in a skiing accident. She has spent seven terms learning the language of policy, focusing on issues that include prescription drug abuse and telecommunications.

”I’ve always had a natural affinity for technology,” she said.

She apparently also has an affinity for cross-country flights. Bono Mack has been spending a lot of time with her daughter, who lives in Northern Virginia and gave birth to a girl in mid-February. …

Take Five With Rep. Mary Bono Mack

Roll Call
By Alex Muller
May 8, 2012

Tuesday is here again, which means HOH brings you another exclusive look at a Member of Congress through five fun questions. This week, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) talks about shoes, gymnastics and Sandra Bullock.

Q: When you have time, what types of websites do you like to frequent?

A: I typically start with Google News, and it takes me to other sites from there. A site I go to late at night when I’m trying to sleep is Zappos.com. It’s a site that sells shoes, and I like to window shop online, but I never really buy any.

Q: You graduated from the University of Southern California, majoring in art and art history. Who are some of your favorite artists?

A: Susan Jackson, she’s a contemporary artist. I have two of her pieces displayed in my house in California. But over the course of history, I would have to say I like the early impressionists because it was really very whimsical and uplifting art.

Q: When you were a gymnast, which event was your favorite to compete in?

A: I was a gymnast for 10 years, from ages 8 to 18. I’m 5 feet, 8 inches, so it’s probably not the best sport to get into. Floor exercise and vaulting were my favorite events. I hated the beam and balance bars. The beam is probably why I quit. I hated the beam.

Q: As the former owner of Bono restaurant in Palm Springs, where do you go now to satisfy your food palate?

A: Well, [husband and Florida Republican Rep. Connie Mack IV] is a meat-and-potatoes guy, so we generally go where Connie can get his meat and potatoes. But when I’m not with him, my favorite foods are Mexican and Indian. My favorite Indian dish is chicken tikka and saag paneer. I grew up in California, and there is a lot of good Mexican food there. I like all of it.

Q: What actress would play you in a movie based on the story of your life?

A: It’s a tossup, but I will go with Sandra Bullock. I don’t know that she would want to play me, and I don’t know if my story is interesting enough to be featured in a movie, but I am a huge fan of hers. I watch all of her movies, and poor Connie has to sit through them. I’m a chick-flick person; I can watch those over and over again and laugh.

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