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Debra Bowen


Debra Bowen

Debra Bowen
168 pix
31st Secretary of State of California
In office
January 8, 2007 – January 4, 2015
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jerry Brown
Preceded by Bruce McPherson
Succeeded by Alex Padilla
Member of the California State Senate
from the 28th district
In office
Preceded by Ralph Dills
Succeeded by Jenny Oropeza
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 53rd district
In office
Preceded by Richard Floyd
Succeeded by George Nakano
Personal details
Born (1955-10-27) October 27, 1955
Rockford, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mark Nechodom
Alma mater Michigan State University (B.A)
University of Virginia (J.D)
Profession Lawyer

Debra Lynn Bowen (born October 27, 1955), a member of the Democratic Party, was the Secretary of State of California from 2007 through 2015. Previously, she was a member of the California State Legislature from 1992 to 2006. In March 2008, she was given the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.[1]


  • Background and education 1
  • Career in politics 2
    • Candidacy for Congress seat 2.1
  • Policy interests 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Background and education

Bowen was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, where she graduated from Guilford High School in 1973. She received her bachelor's degree in 1976 from Michigan State University, and her Juris Doctor in 1979 from the University of Virginia School of Law.[2][3] In 1984, she started her own California law firm.

Motivated by the death of Robin Williams a few weeks earlier, in September 2014, her last year serving as Secretary of State, Bowen revealed that she has been battling depression since she's been in college.[4] She vowed to continue to serve out her term as Secretary of State.[5]

Career in politics

Bowen began her career in politics on the Neighborhood Watch and Heal the Bay.[6] Her first elected office was to the California State Assembly, where she represented the 53rd Assembly District in the South Bay, Los Angeles area from 1992 to 1998. Bowen was first elected to the California State Senate, representing the 28th State Senate District, in 1998. Her district included all or portions of the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Venice, and Wilmington. Bowen chaired the California Senate's Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments. She also sat on the Energy, Utilities & Communications and Rules committees. Due to term limits, her service in the Senate ended in December 2006.

On June 6, 2006, Bowen faced Deborah Ortiz, another state senator, in the Democratic primary to run against Bruce McPherson for the position of California Secretary of State. Bowen won the primary by a 61-39 margin.[7] On November 2, Bowen defeated Republican candidate for reelection McPherson by a margin of 3%.[8]

She was re-elected on November 2, 2010 over Republican Damon Dunn.

Candidacy for Congress seat

After incumbent Jane Harman announced she was vacating the seat,[9] Bowen was widely discussed as a possible candidate for the 36th congressional district special election to replace her.[10] On February 15, 2011, Bowen announced in an email to her supporters that she was entering the race.[11] Her candidacy was endorsed by former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean,[12] Democracy for America,[13] the California League of Conservation Voters,[14] and the California Nurses Association.[15] She came in third, not qualifying for the general election for the seat.[16]

Policy interests

Bowen is known for her support of opening government to the Internet. In 1993, her first year in elected office, she helped to pass legislative bill AB 1624,[17] which made all of California's bill information available on the Internet.

In May 2007, Bowen commissioned a "Top to Bottom Review" of California's electronic voting systems, to determine their security. On August 3, 2007, Bowen withdrew approval and certification and conditionally re-approved three electronic voting systems (Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems), and rescinded approval of a fourth system, (Election Systems & Software), after the top-to-bottom review of the voting machines found the machines to be highly insecure.[18][19] For these efforts she was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.[20]

Bowen was interviewed for the January 16, 2008 broadcast of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer[21] and was the keynote speaker for the 2008 Usenix Security Symposium.


  1. ^ "Debra Bowen - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum". 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  2. ^ "About Debra Bowen - California Secretary of State". Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  3. ^ "Intersection of Technology, Democracy Influenced Bowen’s Path to California Secretary of State". 2010-03-03. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  4. ^ McGreevy, Patrick (September 5, 2014). "Secretary of State Debra Bowen tells of struggle with depression".  
  5. ^ Miller, Jim (September 8, 2014). "Bowen vows to press on as election nears".  
  6. ^ Maddaus, Gene (2011-02-15). "Debra Bowen Will Run For Congress - Los Angeles News - The Informer". Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "First Read - 2011: Harman to resign, setting up cycle's first special". 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  10. ^ Cruickshank, Robert. "Bowen for Congress". Calitics. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  11. ^ Merl, Jean (February 16, 2011). "Debra Bowen enters race to succeed Rep. Jane Harman". Los Angeles Times. 
  12. ^ David Catanese (March 28, 2011). "Howard Dean for Debra Bowen". Politico. 
  13. ^ "DFA Endorses Debra Bowen for CA 36". Democracy for America. March 23, 2011. 
  14. ^ "News Release: CLCV endorses Debra Bowen for Congress | California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV)". 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  15. ^ California, Nevada, Texas Legislation. "California Endorsements". National Nurses United. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  16. ^ "Official Results for California's 36th Congressional District Special Election, 2011" (PDF). 
  17. ^ "Bill List". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  18. ^ "Top-To-Bottom Review". California Secretary of State. 2007-08-03. Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  19. ^ San Francisco Gate: County officials fear new voting standards will be hard to meet at the Wayback Machine (archived January 19, 2008). August 4, 2007.
  20. ^ John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: Debra Bowen award announcement. May 12, 2008.
  21. ^ Michels, Spencer (2008-01-16). "Ballot Blues in California". PBS. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 

External links

  • Official campaign website
  • Debra Bowen fact sheet on the University of California President's website at the Wayback Machine (archived June 9, 2007)
  • AB 1624 Info on CA Legislation site
  • Why California Secretary of State Debra Bowen Pulled the Plug on E-Voting Government Technology Magazine July 2008
California Assembly
Preceded by
Richard Floyd
California State Assemblymember, 53rd District
December 7, 1992–November 30, 1998
Succeeded by
George Nakano
California Senate
Preceded by
Ralph Dills
California State Senator, 28th District
December 7, 1998–November 30, 2006
Succeeded by
Jenny Oropeza
Political offices
Preceded by
Bruce McPherson
California Secretary of State
January 8, 2007–January 4, 2015
Succeeded by
Alex Padilla
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