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Birthdate: May 19, 1975
Birth Place: Yankton, SD, United States
Residence: Sioux Falls, SD
Matt Varilek was born in Yankton, S.D., and grew up there and in the nearby smaller town of Tabor. He currently resides in Sioux Falls. Varilek received a bachelor's degree in from Carleton College in Minnesota, a master's degree in economic development from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and a master's degree in environment and development from Cambridge University.
Varilek worked as an analyst at an energy commodities brokerage, then worked briefly for Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. He worked for Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota from 2005 until he announced his candidacy for Congress in December 2011. He was based in South Dakota as Johnson's economic development director from 2007 to 2011.
Varilek is making his first run for elected office.
He and his wife, Maggie, have two daughters.
Matt Varilek, a former aide to Sen. Tim Johnson, won the 2012 Democratic nomination to run for South Dakota's lone seat in the U.S. House, getting nearly 72 percent of the vote to defeat Jeff Barth in the June primary. He was credited with quickly building a statewide campaign organization, and he benefited from endorsements from Johnson and former Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle and George McGovern.
Varilek said his opponent, Republican Rep. Kristi Noem, who is seeking her second term in the heavily Republican state, is part of the stalemate that has prevented Congress from getting much done. He has criticized Noem for missing many House Agriculture Committee meetings. "I'll show up," he said in June 2012. Noem has dismissed the charge as "hogwash," saying she had to miss some meetings to attend others.
"We've only got one voice in the U.S. House, and right now that voice is not being heard," Varilek said after winning the primary.
Varilek said Noem has voted to privatize Medicare and to cut taxes for oil companies and wealthy people. He has said he would keep most of the tax cuts passed a decade ago, but would end tax cuts for people earning high incomes. He also would end tax subsidies for oil companies.
Noem said he supports the 2010 health care reform bill, although he has said it needs some changes. After the law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2012, he said Congress should continue to work to improve medical care and access to insurance while keeping costs down.
The Democratic candidate has said he particularly supports provisions allowing young people to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26 and preventing insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing health problems
Source: Associated Press
113th Congress on Twitter
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