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Liz Watson (politician)

Elizabeth Schoff Watson (born December 9, 1975) is an American labor attorney and politician, and the current executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center.[1] Watson was the Democratic nominee for the 2018 U.S. House of Representatives election in Indiana's 9th congressional district.[2]

Liz Watson
Personal details
Born (1975-12-09) December 9, 1975 (age 43)
Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Craig Briskin
EducationCarleton College (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website

Early life and educationEdit

Watson was born in Bloomington, Indiana.[3] She attended Bloomington High School South before earning degrees from Carleton College and Georgetown University Law Center.[3] One of Watson's first jobs was as an intern in the district office of Congressman Frank McCloskey.[4]


Watson began her legal career as a Skadden Public Interest Law Fellow in New York City's Welfare Law Center, representing participants in the city's workfare program and educating women about their rights under labor and employment laws.[5]

Watson briefly worked as an employment attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe before joining the staff of the Workplace Flexibility 2010 project at Georgetown Law School,[6] where she developed policies to help low-wage workers better balance work and family responsibilities.[7] She was then promoted to executive director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, where she led a group proposing a broader set of public policy initiatives to address the needs of low-income workers.

At the National Women's Law Center, Watson was director of Workplace Justice for Women and Senior Counsel, and authored publications such as "It Shouldn’t Be A Heavy Lift: Fair Treatment for Pregnant Workers" and "50 Years & Counting: The Unfinished Business of Achieving Fair Pay".[8]

From 2015 to 2017, she served as the labor policy director and chief labor counsel for House Democrats in the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the United States House of Representatives.[9][3]

In 2017, Watson returned to Bloomington and began teaching constitutional law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law while running for Congress.[10][11][12]

The Congressional Progressive Caucus Center (CPCC) named her its executive director in 2019.[1]

2018 House of Representatives campaignEdit

In July 2017, Watson announced her candidacy to represent Indiana's 9th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat.[3]

Primary electionEdit

Watson defeated civil rights attorney Dan Canon and truck driver Rob Chatlos in the May 8, 2018, Democratic primary election with 24,981 votes and 66.4% of total votes cast.[13][14][15][16] Watson's victory garnered national attention for the high level of financial and volunteer support she received from women.[17][18][19]

General electionEdit

In September 2018, Watson was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders.[20] As of September 30, 2018, the Liz for Indiana campaign reported $1,946,997 in total receipts and $1,452,365 in total disbursements.[21] Watson lost to Republican incumbent Trey Hollingsworth in the November 6, 2018, general election.[22]

Political positionsEdit

Health careEdit

Watson supports Medicare for All.[23] She also supports the Affordable Care Act, calling it a "starting point" that needs work.[24]

On her campaign website, Watson says she opposes defunding Planned Parenthood, calling it "high-quality, affordable health care for both women and men." She also opposes Congressional attempts to block Medicaid patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood centers.[25][23]

Regarding marijuana policy, Watson supports the legalization of medical marijuana as well as federal measures to prevent interference from the Department of Justice in the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.[26][27]

Minimum wage and laborEdit

As director of workplace justice at the National Women's Law Center, Watson helped pass paid family leave and gender equity pay laws in Maryland.[18]

More recently, as the Labor Policy Director for the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Watson led the development of legislation which called for the minimum wage to be raised to a living wage at $15 an hour.[3][18][28]

Watson supports labor unions and opposes raising the retirement age.[29][30][31]


Watson supports expansion of access to early childhood and pre-kindergarten education and opposes voucher programs and further expansion of charter schools.[32]

Regarding higher education, Watson supports the College for All Act, which would "eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 ... and make community college tuition- and fee-free for all."[32][33]

Gun controlEdit

Watson supports reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons which expired in 2004. Additionally, Watson supports revoking the Center for Disease Control's ban on researching gun violence. Watson opposes the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act which "would require states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states."[34][35]

LGBTQ rightsEdit

Watson supports the Do No Harm Act, which would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to clarify that it is "intended to protect religious freedom without allowing the infliction of harm on other people."[36][37]


Watson married lawyer Craig Briskin at the Indiana University Auditorium in 2003.[38] They have two children and live in Bloomington, Indiana.[3]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b "New Executive Director". Progressive Caucus Center. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  2. ^ "U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, Democrat Liz Watson advance in Indiana's 9th District". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Depompei, Elizabeth (July 25, 2017). "Bloomington lawyer to run for Indiana's 9th Congressional District". News and Tribume. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  4. ^ "Watson for Congress". HeraldTimesOnline. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  5. ^ "Skadden Fellows | Skadden Fellowship Foundation". Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  6. ^ "Liz Watson - Staff - Workplace Flexibility 2010". Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Liz Watson | MomsRising's Blog". MomsRising's Blog. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  8. ^ "Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women - NWLC". NWLC. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  9. ^ "Elizabeth Schoff Watson (Liz) - Biography from LegiStorm". Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  10. ^ Grady, Danielle. "9th Congressional District candidates talk fundraising, debates". News and Tribune. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  11. ^ "Liz for Indiana". Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  12. ^ "HPI Interview: Liz Watson finds funding traction in 9th CD - Howey Politics". Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  13. ^ "U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, Democrat Liz Watson advance in Indiana's 9th District". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Press, Associated (May 8, 2018). "Democrat Watson Will Challenge GOP's Hollingsworth For Indiana Seat". 89.3 WFPL News Louisville. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  15. ^ "Trey Hollingsworth and Liz Watson to face off in November in Indiana 9th District House race". Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  16. ^, Kurt Christian 812-331-4350 |. "Watson wins in 9th for chance to face incumbent Hollingsworth". HeraldTimesOnline. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "Women break records for political giving before midterm elections". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  18. ^ a b c Marans, Daniel (May 8, 2018). "This Trump Country House District Just Became A Key Progressive Battleground". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  19. ^ "Uptick in women's political donations ahead of midterm elections". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  20. ^ "Bernie Sanders to speak on IU campus in support of House candidate - Indiana Daily Student". Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  21. ^ "WATSON, LIZ - Candidate overview -". Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "Voting in November? Here's what you need to know - Indiana Daily Student". Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  23. ^ a b "Wondering who to vote for in the Indiana primary election? Get to know the candidates - Indiana Daily Student". Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  24. ^ "Democrats think they can turn Hollingsworth's district". WHAS11. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  25. ^ "Affordable Health Care". Liz Watson for Indiana. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  26. ^ "Medical Marijuana". Liz Watson for Indiana. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  27. ^ "These Red-State Democrats Think Legal Marijuana Can Help Them Win". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  28. ^ "Democratic congressional candidate for 9th District looks to break cycle - Indiana Daily Student". Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  29. ^ "Strengthening Social Security and Medicare". Liz Watson for Indiana. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  30. ^ "Good Jobs". Liz Watson for Indiana. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  31. ^ Smith, Mark. "Meet the Democrats Looking to Unseat Hollingsworth". NUVO. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  32. ^ a b "Strong Schools". Liz Watson for Indiana. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  33. ^ "College for All Act Introduced". Sen. Bernie Sanders. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  34. ^ "Hoosier Common Sense on Guns". Liz Watson for Indiana. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  35. ^ "Federal, state candidates discuss gun reform at student-led town hall event - Indiana Daily Student". Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  36. ^ "LGBTQ Rights". Liz Watson for Indiana. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  37. ^ Campaign, Human Rights. "Do No Harm Act | Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  38. ^ "Elizabeth Schoff Watson and Craig Louis Briskin". The Herald-Times. November 30, 2003.