But at 76, DeLauro is suddenly out of step with the zeitgeist of a Democratic party that is perceived to be moving sharply to the left.
On several key issues, from the impeachment of President
Those new members, including four younger congresswomen of color known as the Squad, have captured headlines and drawn the wrath of Trump. Their increased visibility has amplified an ideological and generational split within the Democratic Party that is playing out among candidates seeking the party's 2020 presidential nomination.
DeLauro, a grandmother who has served in
Like Pelosi, DeLauro says defeating Trump in 2020 should take precedence over beginning impeachment proceedings. "Rarely do I get an impeachment question from my constituents," DeLauro told reporters at a recent round table discussion in her
Her caution on impeachment contrasts sharply with the more confrontational approach of the progressive freshmen. (Rep.
DeLauro's ideas to remake the American health care system also are far less radical than plans put forth by several 2020 presidential candidates for a government-run program that would eliminate private health insurance.
"The country and the Democratic party are evolving at a very rapid pace," said
DeLauro's Medicare for America proposal would let small employers buy in to the Medicare program while preserving a role for private insurance, an industry that employs thousands of
But despite strategic differences on important issues, Winfield said DeLauro enjoys "three decades of love from her constituents ... while she may take a position here and there that people don't agree with, she has a lot of good will built up."
DeLauro was not available for comment. But her defenders, and there are many, reject the characterization that her brand of politics is out of sync with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
Former Lt. Gov.
"In the game of politics, everybody doesn't always agree," said Panzo, who has known DeLauro for decades. "We're on different sides on a lot of things, that's just the Democratic Party these days ... but she knows how to get things done."
DeLauro has a long history of liberal activism. Her father and all four of her grandparents were Italian immigrants who settled in
DeLauro worked as a community organizer before
After a stint leading EMILY's List, a political action committee that helps women candidates who support abortion rights, DeLauro sought the open 3rd Congressional seat in 1990. The district is centered on
DeLauro has long been known for her advocacy of equal pay, paid family leave, food safety and legal access to abortion. She's also drawn attention for her unique personal style: colorful scarves, chunky eyeglasses and occasionally, purple-tinged hair. (At one point, her funky fashion sense spawned a
"She's got a great personality," said
Wyman said DeLauro is an exceptionally skilled politician. "She never forgets where she came from," Wyman said. "With Rosa, it's always about knowing who people are."
DeLauro has consistently racked up lopsided victories in a district that tilts heavily toward the
Few observers believe she is likely to draw a challenge. "Who wants to go up against a popular, well-liked incumbent?" wondered
"You're seeing that with many of the baby boomer lawmakers who have been there for decades," Wharton said. "At what point does an upcoming generation attempt to run against an incumbent?"
The type of intra-party battle that led to the defeat of
"Her office is so dedicated to constituent service," Wharton said. "That's Rosa's secret ingredient."
DeLauro's devotion to her district won her praise from Romano, the state Republican chairman. "I don't agree with her on anything, but in terms of constituent services, she does a great job."
DeLauro is running for a 16th term in 2020. "She's a survivor," said Panzo, the
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