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Who Is Mitch McConnell's Wife? New Details About Elaine Chao

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who is Mitch McConnell's wife

Everyone in America is aware of who Mitch McConnell is. Like him or hate him, depending on what side of the political spectrum you’re on, he’s served as the Senate Majority Leader since 2015, and has been a U.S. Senator from Kentucky since 1984.

He’s the longest serving Kentuckian to lead his party in the Senate, and the longest-serving Senator in all of Kentucky’s history. How’s that for accomplishment?

But does his life in the spotlight affect his family? Especially now that McConnell is calling for a vote on Brett Kavanaugh so soon after his sexual assault hearing and before the “limited scope” FBI investigation is completed. It’s making us wonder just who is Mitch McConnell’s wife? How does she handle his life in politics? Here are 9 things to know about Elaine Chao.

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1. She’s an immigrant.


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Chao and her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was eight years old, and she later became a naturalized citizen at 19. She was born in Taipei, China, and came to the U.S. on a freight ship journey that lasted 37 days, along with her mother and two of her five sisters.

2. She has multiple degrees.

After graduating high school, Chao attended Mount Holyoke College where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics. She later attended Harvard Business School and received an MBA.

While at Harvard, she became the first woman at Harvard to be elected as class marshal and class officer. Since then, she has received 37 honorary doctorates. 

3. Her father is a successful businessman.

Dr. James S.C. Chao is a founder of the shipping company Foremost Group. He began his career as a merchant mariner and founded the company in 1964. In 2012, the Chao family donated $40 million to Harvard for the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center, in honor of Elaine’s mother.

Her father has also given Chao and her husband almost $25 million, which “boosted McConnell's personal worth from a minimum of $3 million in 2007 to more than $7 million” and “helped the McConnells after their stock portfolio dipped in the wake of the financial crisis that year.” Lucky them!

4. She had a career before politics.

She worked as the Vice President for syndications at Bank of America Capital Markets Group, and as an International Banker at Citicorp in New York. In 1983, she was granted a White House Fellowship, serving during the Reagan administration. She then got her start in politics when she became Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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5. She was the Secretary of Labor, serving under the Bushes.

From 2001 to 2009, she was the U.S. Secretary of Labor for President George W. Bush, as well as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Director of the Peace Corps for George H.W. Bush. She was the first Asian Pacific American to serve in any of these positions, and expanded the Peace Corp to have a presence in Central Asia.

6. She’s the current Secretary of Transportation.


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In November 2016, Trump, who was the president-elect, nominated Chao as the Secretary of Transportation, making her one of the only members of his cabinet that has experience. She was confirmed by the Senate in a landslide vote of 93-6.

7. She met her husband on a blind date.

The couple was introduced by an early friend of McConnell’s, Stuart Bloch, and his wife, Julia Chang Bloch, who mentored Chao. According to Chao, their life has changed since McConnell became Senate Majority, saying, “Before he was [Senate Majority] leader, he actually cooked. I call him my low-maintenance husband.”

8. She’s his second wife.


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McConnell was married once before to his first wife, Sherrill Redmon, from 1968 to 1980. The couple had three children. Chao and McConnell have no children together.

9. She campaigned for her husband.

When he was running in the 2014 Senate elections, Chao set up dozens of events in an effort to get her husband re-elected. McConnell himself has said, “The biggest asset I have by far is the only Kentucky woman who served in a president's cabinet, my wife, Elaine Chao.”

What sets her apart is that she is known for “bipartisan socializing,” and has hosted dinners with Obama’s advisor, Valerie Jarrett, in attendance.

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Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.