From the glass ceilings she shattered to her cameo in a summer blockbuster, Sen. Debbie Stabenow is more than her political accomplishments.
CLARE, Mich.—Daughter of the family running the Oldsmobile dealership in Clare, Sen. Debbie Stabenow credits her upbringing in Clare for who she is today. She says her father taught her that people benefitting from others’ work should give something back.
For twenty years, that’s meant representing Michigan in the United States Senate, where she’s been a part of things like the For the People Act on voting rights which she introduced. But there’s a lot about Stabenow that has nothing to do with her legislative accomplishments—things you might not know about the storied senator.
She’s Pals with Superman
While she didn’t become governor of Michigan when she ran in 1994, Stabenow did become the governor of DC Comics’ Metropolis in 2015, where she appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice at a fundraiser hosted by tech executive-by-day supervillain-by-night Lex Luthor. Stabenow got the role because the film’s Gotham setting was shot in Detroit.
She Is a Musician
Stabenow actually plays multiple instruments including the piano and guitar. She played clarinet in her school band as a kid, and says music is still a big part of her life.
She has an Open Country Award from Outdoor Life Magazine
As a youth, Stabenow loved 4-H and loved outdoor sports, so it’s little surprise an outdoor activity magazine saw fit to award her for her continued passion. She got the award in 2015.
She’s the Daughter of a Nurse
Stabenow’s passion for health care in Congress might stem from her mother. Anna Greer, Stabenow’s mother, was the Director of Nursing at a local hospital in Claire, which might explain why she was such a fierce advocate for the Affordable Care Act when it passed in 2010.
She’s a Spartan, Social Worker, and Senator
Before getting into politics, Stabenow was a social worker. She got a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work from Michigan State University. But while she was in grad school, a member od the Ingham County Commission declared his plan to close a nursing home in Lansing. Stabenow was “incensed” and ran against him. She won, and saved the nursing home, before graduating magna cum laude in 1975.
She’s Had Weight and Body Image Struggles
Often used for mockery by her political rivals, Stabenow has struggled with weight issues. Like 35% of Michiganders, Stabnow has struggled to slim down, and managed it after a long journey. But knowing the struggle, she’s carried that information into Congress to work to address root causes of childhood obesity through action, not shame.
She’s Shattered Glass Ceilings
Stabenow holds a lot of firsts in her political career. She was the first woman and then-youngest person to serve as chair of the Ingham County Commission, and went on to be the first woman to preside over the Michigan House of Representatives and the first woman to serve a full term in the Michigan Senate. She was in 1996 the first woman her Congressional district sent to Washington, and in 2000 became the first woman Michigan elected to the United States Senate.
“At every step, I have seen the importance of women’s voices being in ‘the room where it happens,’” Stabenow wrote, celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. “I’m hoping that for my own granddaughters and their granddaughters, a woman president will be no big deal—just as women county commissioners, state lawmakers, and members of Congress seem pretty normal to us now.”
Sen. Stabenow is up for re-election in 2024.