Mark Pocan
Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
In office
May 23, 2017 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byKeith Ellison
Succeeded byPramila Jayapal
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byTammy Baldwin
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 78th district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byTammy Baldwin
Succeeded byBrett Hulsey
Personal details
Mark William Pocan

(1964-08-14) August 14, 1964 (age 57)
Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Philip Frank
(m. 2006)
RelationsWilliam S. Pocan (brother)
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison (BA)
WebsiteHouse website

Mark William Pocan (/ˈpkæn/ POH-kan; born August 14, 1964) is an American politician and businessman serving as the U.S. representative from Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district since 2013. The district is based in the state capital, Madison. A member of the Democratic Party, Pocan is co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and chair emeritus of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. From 1999 to 2013 he served as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the 78th district,[1] succeeding Tammy Baldwin there,[2] whom he also replaced in the House when Baldwin was elected to the Senate.

Early life and education

Pocan was born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He graduated from Harvey Elementary School, Washington Junior High School, and Mary D. Bradford High School in 1982, where he was elected senior class president. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, earning a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1986.

Early career

Shortly after graduating, Pocan opened up his own small business, a printing company named Budget Signs & Specialties, which he continues to own and run as of 2012. He is a member of the AFL-CIO, which he joined as a small business owner.[3]

Pocan's active years at UW-Madison in College Democrats led to his election in 1991 to the Dane County Board of Supervisors, where he served Madison’s downtown community for three terms, leaving the board in 1996.

Wisconsin Assembly

Pocan at the 2012 Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools banquet
Pocan at the 2012 Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools banquet


In 1998 Pocan's longtime friend and ally, Tammy Baldwin, gave up her seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly to make a successful run for Congress. Pocan ran to succeed her in the western Madison district and won a three-way Democratic primary with 54% of the vote. He faced no Republican opponent in the general election and won with 93% of the vote against an independent. He won reelection in 2000 with 81%—the only time he faced a Republican challenger. He was unopposed for reelection from 2002 to 2010.[4]


As a state legislator, Pocan earned a reputation for moving the Wisconsin political debate to the left. One of the most outspoken progressive members of the state assembly, he focused on difficult issues including corrections reform, the state budget, education funding, and fighting privatization schemes.[citation needed]

For six years Pocan sat on the Joint Finance Committee, including a term as co-chair.[citation needed] He also took on a leading role among Assembly Democrats, running caucus campaign efforts in 2008 when Democrats went from five seats down to retaking the majority for the first time in 14 years.[citation needed]

Committee assignments

U.S. House of Representatives


Main article: 2012 United States House of Representatives elections in Wisconsin § District 2

In 2012, Baldwin gave up her congressional seat in order to run for the U.S. Senate and Pocan decided to run in the open 2nd congressional district. He won a four-candidate Democratic primary with 72% of the vote. He won all 7 counties in the district, including the heavily populated Dane County with 74% of the vote.[5] The 2nd is so heavily Democratic that the Democratic primary was considered the real contest, and it was widely believed that Pocan had assured himself a seat in Congress by winning it.[6] On November 6, 2012, Pocan won the general election, defeating Republican Chad Lee 68%–32%.[7][8]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political activism

Pocan in July 2018
Pocan in July 2018

Pocan identifies as a progressive Democrat, and is a member of organizations including Wisconsin Citizens Action, the American Civil Liberties Union, Fair Wisconsin[13] and Midwest Progressive Elected Officials Network. He is also one of the few progressive Democrats to have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative-leaning organization that produces model legislative proposals. Pocan used his membership to investigate the organization's agenda and sponsors and wrote a series of articles on his experiences with ALEC for the Madison-based magazine The Progressive.[14][when?] On the September 29, 2012 edition of Moyers and Company, Pocan said, "ALEC is a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests that eventually the relationship culminates with some special interest legislation and hopefully that lives happily ever after as the ALEC model. Unfortunately what’s excluded from that equation is the public."[15]

In September 2018 Pocan supported legislation invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to stop U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, saying, "The world’s worst humanitarian crisis has been triggered by our secretive, illegal war in Yemen waged alongside the Saudi regime. As the Saudis use famine as a weapon of war, starving millions of innocent Yemenis to near death, the United States fuels, coordinates and provides bombs for Saudi airstrikes, and secretly deploys the military to participate in on-the-ground operations with Saudi troops.”[16]

In April 2019, after the House passed the resolution withdrawing American support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Pocan was one of nine lawmakers to sign a letter to President Trump requesting a meeting with him and urging him to sign "Senate Joint Resolution 7, which invokes the War Powers Act of 1973 to end unauthorized US military participation in the Saudi-led coalition's armed conflict against Yemen's Houthi forces, initiated in 2015 by the Obama administration." They asserted the "Saudi-led coalition's imposition of an air-land-and-sea blockade as part of its war against Yemen’s Houthis has continued to prevent the unimpeded distribution of these vital commodities, contributing to the suffering and death of vast numbers of civilians throughout the country" and that Trump's signing the resolution would give a "powerful signal to the Saudi-led coalition to bring the four-year-old war to a close."[17]

Pocan supports decreasing U.S. military spending.[18] Pocan, Pramila Jayapal and Barbara Lee attempted to reduce the size of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, but their motion was rejected 93-324. The Congressional Progressive Caucus cochairs Jayapal and Pocan declared: "Every handout to Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman is money that could have been spent on ending [COVID-19] pandemic, keeping small businesses afloat and staving off an economic meltdown."[19]

In 2019 Pocan supported the Equality Act, a bill that would expand the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.[20]

In July 2019 Pocan voted against a House resolution introduced by Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois opposing the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel.[21] The resolution passed 398-17.[22]

On December 18, 2019, Pocan voted for both articles of impeachment against President Trump.[23]

In January 2020, Pocan endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for president.[24]

In May 2021, Pocan and Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drafted a resolution to block the sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel after the Biden administration approved the sale.[25]

Personal life

Pocan is openly gay. He credits his political activism in part to an incident soon after he graduated from college and opened his printing business, when two men followed him after he left a gay bar and beat him with a baseball bat while they called him "faggot" and other anti-gay slurs.[26] This gaybashing incident spurred him to become active in the Madison LGBT community.[27] Pocan was the only openly gay member of the state Assembly after Tammy Baldwin's election to Congress, and one of three LGBT members of the 100th Wisconsin Legislature,[3] alongside Sen. Tim Carpenter (D–Milwaukee) and bisexual Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D–Milwaukee).

On November 24, 2006, Pocan and his long-term partner, Philip Frank, were legally married in Toronto, Ontario.[28]

Pocan's brother, William S. Pocan, serves as a circuit court judge in Milwaukee County.[29]

Awards and honors

Pocan has received the following recognitions while in office:

See also


  1. ^ Wisconsin Blue Book 2011-2012. p. 71.
  2. ^ "Mark Pocan wins Madison-area US House race, keeping Baldwin's vacated seat with Democrats". Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Weier, Anita (October 28, 2004), "UW Student Challenges Rep. Pocan", The Capital Times, retrieved March 12, 2008
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - Candidate - Mark Pocan". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns - WI - District 02 - D Primary Race - Aug 14, 2012". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Weisberg, Louis. "Pocan wins Democratic Primary, on track to become next out member of Congress" Wisconsin Gazette August 14, 2012
  7. ^ "Our Campaigns - WI - District 02 Race - Nov 06, 2012". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  8. ^ Zinck, Shaun. "Pocan inherits Baldwin's seat". Beloit Daily News. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "Mark Pocan Member Profile". Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  10. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  11. ^ "Members of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus". Veterinary Medicine Caucus. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  12. ^ "Congressional Animal Protection Caucus - Members". Congressman Earl Blumenauer. September 13, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  13. ^ "Fair Wisconsin – Advancing, achieving and protecting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Wisconsinites". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  14. ^ ""Inside ALEC" - The Progressive". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  15. ^ "United States of ALEC - Moyers & Company -". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  16. ^ "House lawmakers pursue end to US military role in Yemen". Stars and Stripes. September 26, 2018.
  17. ^ Haitiwanger, John (April 5, 2019). "Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Ro Khanna, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Trump imploring him to end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen".
  18. ^ "House and Senate Poised For Historic Votes On Reducing Pentagon Spending". Forbes. July 21, 2020.
  19. ^ "We Can No Longer Afford the Military-Industrial Complex". The Nation. July 22, 2020.
  20. ^ "House Debate on the Equality Act". C-SPAN. May 17, 2019.
  21. ^ Clare Foran (July 24, 2019). "Who voted 'no' on the House resolution opposing Israel boycott movement". CNN. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  22. ^ Schneider, Bradley Scott (July 23, 2019). "H.Res.246 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel". Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  23. ^ "WHIP COUNT: Here's which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump".
  24. ^ "Rep. Mark Pocan announces he's endorsing Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin primary". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. January 16, 2020.
  25. ^ "U.S. House Democrats offer resolution blocking $735 million Israel weapons sale". May 19, 2021.
  26. ^ Pocan, Mark. "A Seat at the Table". Our Lives (March/April 2012): 23.
  27. ^ Riley, John (April 6, 2017). "Congressional Wisdom: An interview with Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan". Metro Weekly. Washington D.C.
  28. ^ Conklin, Melanie (December 13, 2006), "Gay Legislator's Marriage Is About Being A Couple", Wisconsin State Journal, retrieved March 12, 2008
  29. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 2011-2012,' Wisconsin Circuit Court Judges, pg. 573
  30. ^ "Professional Fire Fighters" (PDF). Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, Inc. Summer 2008. p. 14. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  31. ^ "Events: Voices of Courage Awards - WCASA". Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  32. ^ "Conservation Scorecard Reports Historic Conservation Wins" (PDF). Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. July 16, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  33. ^ "Past OutReach Awards Recipients". OutReach. Retrieved June 2, 2017.

Further reading

U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byTammy Baldwin Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district 2013–present Incumbent Party political offices Preceded byKeith Ellison Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus 2017–2021 Served alongside: Raúl Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal Succeeded byPramila Jayapal U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byScott Peters United States representatives by seniority 185th Succeeded byTom Rice