Mary Bono Mack has no regrets about her service in Congress
As Mary Bono Mack ponders the possibility of writing her memoirs, she can look back on a career that translates into one of the more unusual stories in the history of the House of Representatives.
She came into office on a maelstrom of paparazzi interest following the death of her husband, Congressman and pop culture icon Sonny Bono, who was killed in a skiing accident that left her alone to raise two children under the age of 11.
Then she was placed on a committee that was asked to recommend whether or not to impeach the President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
She served more than 14 years, making her one of the longest serving Representatives to have succeeded a deceased spouse. Then she began dating a country music artist, which resulted in a broken engagement. She married a former minor league baseball player, which resulted in a divorce. And she became one of the few Congresswomen to marry another Congress member, Florida Republican Connie Mack IV, who was the great-grandson of Hall of Fame baseball manager Connie Mack.
In between the personal trials and tribulations, she forged a career that didn’t put her in the upper echelon of effective legislators, but didn’t leave her in the bottom rung of the scarred and frayed.
“I’d put her right in the middle,” said Sarah Binder, a recognized expert on Congress as a professor of political science at George Washington University and senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.
“We can always come up with people who have done less and we can certainly come up with people historically who have done more. To take seriously the needs of your constituency, and to stand apart from your party where you think it’s important, I think members deserve high marks for that.”
Sitting in her Palm Springs home for what was essentially a series of exit interviews with the local media last month, Bono Mack, 51, said she was raised by her parents to be a moderate Republican and she modeled her career in part after Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.