Thinking Citizen Blog — Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) — Chairman of the Republican Conference and a Surgeon

Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: Getting to Know Both Sides XIII: Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) — Chairman of the Republican Conference and a Surgeon

The Chairman of the Republican Conference is the third-ranking Republican leader in the Senate — after the Minority Leader (Mitch McConnell) and the Minority Whip (John Thune). Barrasso has been a US Senator since 2007. He is a physician. How many physicians are there in Congress anyway? what is their party affiliation? What is the long term history of physicians in US politics? These questions are answered in Part Three of today’s post. Part One is on his personal background. Part Two is on his electoral history and policy positions. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate. This is the thirteenth in a series on Republican and Democratic leaders at the national, state, and local levels. The goal is to get beyond the sound bytes and the insults and to come to appreciate the unique stories of each individual. Next week Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) majority leader.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND — Italian descent, education, orthopedic surgeon

1. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1952. Of Italian descent on both sides. Attended Catholic grade school and high school.

2. Graduated from Georgetown University with a BS in 1974 (Phi Beta Kappa) and an MD in 1978. He was a resident at Yale Medical School from 1978 to 1983.

3. Board-certified orthopedic surgeon in Casper, Wyoming (1983–2007). State President of the Wyoming Medical Society, President of the National Association of Physician Broadcasters, also served as a “rodeo surgeon.”


1. State Senator from 2002–2007 (unopposed in elections of 2002, 2006)

2. US Senator 2007 to Present. He was first appointed on the death of Senator Craig Thomas. He was then elected in landslides in three landslides: 73% of the vote in 2008, 75% in 2012, and 67% in 2018.

3. Policy positions in a nutshell: limited government, lower taxes, less spending, traditional family values, local control and a strong defense, prayer in school, anti-gay marriage, and anti-abortion.

PHYSICIANS IN THE US CONGRESS — 14 of 17 are Republican, disproportionately Southern, surgeons

1. Early history : “11% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were physicians …During the first 100 years of Congress (1789–1889) 252 (or 4.6 percent) of 5405 members were physicians.”

2. Recent history: 5 physicians in Congress in 1960, 2 in 1990, a high of 21 in 2013, down to 14 in 2017.

3. “Of the 27 physicians in Congress since 2005, 93% have been men, which is in stark contrast to 70% male physicians in general, 63% were from the South (vs 35% of all Congressional members) and 26% were surgeons (vs 11% of all US physicians).”

For the last three years of posts, organized thematically:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


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