The Honorable Linda Smith
Linda Smith earned a reputation as a political maverick in the Washington state house and senate before winning a historic write-in campaign for Congress. During her two terms in the U.S. House she often clashed with party leadership in her ardent pursuit of campaign finance reform and restrictions on lobbying gifts and trips for Members of Congress.
Linda Smith never planned on a political career, but instead found herself answering the call to run for elected office at both the state and federal level. Before making the jump to Congress, Smith, upon the urging of her husband Vern, won a seat in the Washington state house of representatives in 1983. A few years later she ran a successful campaign for the Washington state senate where she served from 1987 until 1995. While considering a return to the private sector, Smith switched gears to campaign for the U.S. House after voters organized an effective write-in campaign that quickly gained momentum surprising many, including the candidate herself.
In her interview Smith describes the valuable lessons she learned as a state legislator, such as the importance of building coalitions, which she applied to her time in the House. She also discusses issues she endorsed in the Washington state legislature—a major spending control initiative, campaign finance reform, curbing the influence of lobbyists—and how she continued to rally for “clean” government while on the national stage at the U.S. Capitol. During her two terms in Congress her tenacious and unswerving support for institutional reform often led to conflict with the Republican leadership. Smith shares insights about the Republican majority during the 104th and 105th Congresses (1995–1999), her relationship with then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and how her outspoken opposition to abortion paved the way for alliances with several influential Members of her party. She also explains why she ran for the U.S. Senate in 1998 and her transition from politics to her role as a public advocate for abolishing human trafficking across the globe.
Read full biography