|California Secretary of State|
|2007 - 2015|
|Predecessor||Bruce McPherson (R)|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 2, 2010|
|First elected||November 7, 2006|
|Term limits||2 terms|
|California State Senate|
|California State Assembly|
|High school||Guilford High School|
|Bachelor's||Michigan State University (1976)|
|J.D.||University of Virginia School of Law (1979)|
|Date of birth||October 27, 1955|
|Place of birth||Rockford, Illinois|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Political career
- 3 Elections
- 4 Campaign donors
- 5 Personal
- 6 Recent news
- 7 Contact Information
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
Bowen's second term ended in January 2015 and she was constitutionally barred from running for a third term as secretary of state when her seat comes up for election in November 2014.
In the wake of the high-profile suicide of actor Robin Williams, Bowen told The Los Angeles Times, in September 2014, about her lifelong struggle with depression. She revealed that she recently moved out of her Sacramento home, moved into a trailer home and frequently works from home. Bowen also spoke to her financial struggles; $14,591 in state and federal liens placed on her property from 2009 to 2014. For more details on these stories, jump to the Struggles with depression and Tax liens sections.
Bowen attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree, and later received her law degree, in 1979, from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Before entering politics, Bowen practiced corporate, tax and ERISA law at Winston and Strawn and Hughes, Hubbard & Reed.
Bowen has served in several other roles throughout her career, including, but not limited to:
|State executive officials|
- Member, Court Technology Advisory Committee, Judicial Council (2000-present)
- Chair, Assembly Natural Resources Committee
- Member, Heal the Bay Legal Committee
- Chair, National Conference of State Legislatures E-Communications Steering Committee
- Executive Board, National Conference of State Legislatures
- Member, National Conference of State Legislatures Task Force on State and Local Taxation of Telecommunications and Electronic Commerce
- Chair, Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee
- Chair, Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee
- Graduated from Guilford High School (1973)
- Bachelor's degree, Michigan State University (1976)
- J.D. degree, University of Virginia School of Law (1979)
California Secretary of State (2007-2015)
Bowen was first elected to the office in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. Bowen's second term ended in January 2015 and she was ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits.
Struggles with depression
Bowen acknowledged that she suffers from "debilitating" depression in an interview with The Los Angeles Times in September 2014. She has suffered with depression since her college years, and recently faced a "more difficult episode" that led her to work from home rather than her Sacramento office. Bowen also admitted that she moved out of the home she shares with her husband, opting for a trailer home outside of the city that serves as a "refuge." She also acknowledged her previous struggles against alcohol and prescription drug addiction to The Times, which she surmounted during her time in the California State Legislature. She got sober in 1995, while she was in the State Assembly. Bowen is undergoing treatment for depression, but has not been hospitalized during her recent struggles.
"Work is anyplace I have a telephone. Just because I'm physically not in the office doesn't mean I don't know what's going on and that I'm not participating," said Bowen in regard to her work as secretary of state.
Bowen and her husband, Mark Nechodom, faced tax liens from unpaid taxes equaling $14,591 between 2009 and 2011. These liens included a 2011 filing by state revenue officials that indicated $4,623 in unpaid income taxes by Bowen. The couple repaid debts associated with the liens by September 2014, according to local and county records. Bowen noted that the unpaid taxes were not intentional and occurred during a busy time, as Nechodom moved from California to Washington, D.C. for work.
Taxpayer funded trip
The Los Angeles Times reported in late-October 2010 that two years earlier Secretary of State Debra Bowen initially had taxpayers foot the bill "when she went to the Democratic National Convention in Denver to see Barack Obama accept the party's nomination as president." She said that expenses for that and another trip in April 2010 were accidentally placed on a state credit card rather then the one for her campaign account. Bowen has since reimbursed the state for $1,595 from her campaign account to make up for the clerical error.
Secretary of State Project
- See also: Secretary of State Project
In 2006, Bowen, who was named "one of the most progressive Secretaries of State in the nation," received the endorsement of the Secretary of State Project, a below-the-radar 527 political organization whose purpose is to "wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party" through the process of "removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count," namely the office of Secretary of State in many cases.
She again received the endorsement of the political activist group in the midst of the 2010 election cycle.
California State Senate (1998-2006)
Prior to being elected as California's Secretary of State in 2006, Bowen was a member of the California State Senate, representing the 28th State Senate District, a role she maintained until December 2006 when her service ended due to state term limit laws.
In her eight-year tenure as a state senator, Bowen did not shy away from voting for controversial pieces of legislation. Bowen voted in favor of SCR 113, which recognized May 1, 2006, as The Great American Boycott 2006, in order to educate people in California and the United States about the contributions of immigrants in California. Organizers called for supporters to abstain from buying, selling, working, and attending school, in order to demonstrate through direct action the extent to which the labor obtained of illegal immigrants is needed for the economy of the United States. Supporters of the boycott demanded general amnesty and legalization programs. Opponents of the boycott saw it as promotion of illegal immigration. The proposal Bowen supported passed by a vote of 24 to 13 on April 27th, 2006.
On May 11, 2006, SB 1437, also known as Sexual Diversity Content in Public School Curriculums, a bill co-sponsored by Bowen, passed by a vote of 22 to 15. The bill says that "no teacher shall give instruction nor shall a school district sponsor any activity that reflects adversely upon persons because of their ... gender ... sexual orientation." SB 1437 was controversial with religious advocates because it "would remove 'sex-specific' terms such as 'mom' and 'dad' from textbooks." According to the California Senate Judiciary Committee, "The bill also would direct the school governing boards to include only instructional material that accurately portrays the cultural, racial, gender and sexual diversity of our society, and, in instructional material for the social sciences, include the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the economic, political and social development of California and the United States of America." After being enacted by the state senate, SB 1437 was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2006.
Bowen voted on June 1st, 2006, in support of SB 1160, a measure that would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers licenses to undocumented workers, or illegal aliens, in the state of California. The bill passed by a vote count of 23 to 15.
Debra Bowen received the endorsement of ACORN-PAC in her 2006 election bid. In spite of the embattled nature of the organization, she continued to display her endorsement on her Sacramento office wall.
California State Assembly (1992-1998)
- 2010 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary
- Debra Bowen ran unopposed in this contest
|2010 Race for Secretary of State - General Election|
|Democratic Party||Debra Bowen||53.2%|
|Republican Party||Damon Dunn||38.4%|
|Green Party||Ann Menasche||3.0%|
|Libertarian Party||Christina M. Tobin||2.2%|
|American Independent Party||Merton D. Short||1.6%|
|Peace and Freedom Party||Marylou Cabral||1.6%|
|2006 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary|
|Democratic Party||Debra Bowen||60.9%|
|Democratic Party||Deborah V. Ortiz||39.1%|
|2006 Race for Secretary of State - General Election|
|Democratic Party||Debra Bowen||48.1%|
|Republican Party||Bruce McPherson||45.0%|
|Green Party||Forrest Hill||2.2%|
Comprehensive donor information for Bowen is available dating back to 1998. Based on available campaign finance records, Bowen raised a total of $3,543,678 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 8, 2013.
2002, 2006, 2010
Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Debra Bowen's donors each year. Click [show] for more information.
|Debra Bowen's Campaign Contributions|
California Secretary of State
California Secretary of State
California State Senate
|Total Raised by General Election Opponent||$1,030,404 (Republican)|
$1,245 (Peace & Freedom)
|Top 5 contributors||California Democratic Party||$59,034||San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central committee||$25,000||Consumer Attorneys of California||$6,000|
|Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters||$25,800||California State Council of Service Employees||$22,200||California Cable and Telecommunications Association||$6,000|
|California Teachers Association||$25,800||State Building and Construction Trades Council of California||$22,200||California School Employees Association||$6,000|
|California Labor Federation AFL-CIO||$25,800||California State Council of Laborers||$21,100||California Teachers Association||$6,000|
|Operating Engineers Local 12||$19,300||California Democratic Party||$18,599||California Applicants Attorneys Association||$6,000|
Debra Bowen currently resides in Marina del Rey, California with her husband, Mark Nechodom, and their daughter, Maya. She is a recipient of the Profile in Courage Award (2008) from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
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Contact InformationCapitol Address:
Office of Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 653-6814
- Official California Secretary of State website
- Debra Bowen's Facebook profile
- Debra Bowen's Twitter account
- Project Vote Smart - Debra Bowen biography
- Campaign contributions: , 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002, 2000, 1998
- Debrabowen.com 2010 Campaign website
The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from November 3, 2010.
- California Secretary of State, "About Debra Bowen," accessed July 7, 2011
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Cite error: Invalid
- The Los Angeles Times, "Secretary of State Debra Bowen tells of struggle with depression," September 5, 2014
- Project Vote Smart, "Biography Debra Bowen," accessed September 24, 2012
- California Secretary of State, "About Debra Bowen," accessed July 7, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "Whoops. About that taxpayer-funded travel…" 22 Oct. 2010
- American Spectator, "SOS in Minnesota" 7 Nov. 2008
- Secretary of State Project - 2010 races
- World Net Daily, "Bill promoting homosexuality in schools OK'd" 23 June, 2006
- Smart Voter - Additional Endorsements for Debra Bowen
- New York Times, "2010 General Election Results" 2 Nov. 2010
- California Secretary of State - 2006 Primary Election Results
- California Secretary of State - 2006 General Election Results
- Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Debra Bowen," accessed July 8, 2013
- Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
- John F. Kennedy Library Foundation - Debra Bowen biography
Bruce McPherson (R)
|California Secretary of State
| Succeeded by|
Alex Padilla (D)