Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2015

Have you ever witnessed in your life a political year like 2015?  There’s no way to describe it.   An escalating decline of dignity, and civility.  And one wonders if 2016 will be any better.

And we suffered other losses as well — giants in the political world who passed.  The list includes Fred Thompson, a senator from Tennessee and a presidential wannabe, and Mario Cuomo, the governor of New York and a presidential mightabeen.  Julian Bond, the great civil rights champion.  Edward Brooke, the first African-American ever popularly elected to the Senate.  Don Edwards and Robert Kastenmeier, liberal stalwarts in the House.  Jim Wright, the Speaker of the House.  Richard Schweiker, an unlikely running mate for Ronald Reagan.  And Beau Biden, whose future seemed unlimited, whose death was the latest unfathomable heartbreak for the vice president.

What follows is a chronological list of those who died this year. It doesn’t claim to be complete, but it includes many of those who made our lives more interesting and the world a better place.

Mario Cuomo, 82, a three-term Democratic governor from New York best remembered for his stirring oratory at the 1984 Dem convention and his decision not to seek the White House despite hints from him and pleas from others.  Gaining attention for his role as a mediator in a famous 1972 battle in Forest Hills Mario Cuomo 001(Queens) between middle class families and efforts to build low-income public housing in their neighborhood, Cuomo was his party’s choice for lt. gov. in 1974 but lost the primary to Mary Anne Krupsak.  Hugh Carey, who was elected governor that year, later named Cuomo as the NY secretary of state.  In 1977, with NYC Mayor Abe Beame seen as extremely vulnerable, Cuomo jumped into the mayor’s race.  It was a contest for the ages, one that included the brash ex-House member Bella Abzug.  Cuomo finished a close second to Rep. Ed Koch, and the two advanced to a very bitter, very personal runoff, won by Koch.  (“Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo,” read some posters in Queens put up by Cuomo supporters in response to rumors about Koch’s sexuality.  Cuomo denied involvement but it led to years of a personal enmity between the two.)  Cuomo stayed on the ballot as the candidate of the Liberal Party, and so he ran against Koch a third time, in the general election — losing all three.  One of the reasons most cited for his defeat was his opposition to the death penalty which Koch, ordinarily a reliably liberal voice, supported.  In 1978, when Lt. Gov. Krupsak decided to (unsuccessfully) challenge Gov. Carey for renomination, Cuomo sought and won the LG spot.  Four years later, Carey decided not to seek a third term, and the Democratic race to succeed him was between Cuomo … and his old adversary, Koch.  Koch was the choice of the party as well as Carey, but made some serious errors, including his interview in Playboy in which he mocked life in upstate New York.  Cuomo won the primary and then narrowly beat GOP nominee Lew Lehrman in November.  In 1984 Cuomo was the keynote speaker at the Dem convention in San Francisco, in which he gave a memorable address that attacked President Reagan and his policies.  A liberal champion noted for his keen intellect and a tendency to be combative, he refused entreaties in 1988 and 1992 to run for president himself.  In 1994 he was defeated in a bid for a fourth term by George Pataki.  Cuomo’s son Andrew is currently in his second term as governor. (Jan. 1)

Arthur Neu, 81, a Republican who served six years (1973-78) as lt. gov. of Iowa under Gov. Bob Ray. (Jan. 2)

Edward Brooke, 95, a Massachusetts Republican who in 1966 became the nation’s first popularly elected African-American U.S. Senator.  In 1960, when favorite son John F. Kennedy was running for president, Brooke ran for secretary of state, the first black nominated statewide in Mass.; he lost to Democrat Kevin White, later the Ed Brooke 001mayor of Boston, whose use of a racially-suggested theme on his bumper stickers, “Vote White,” angered Brooke.  Two years later Brooke defeated Elliot Richardson for the GOP nomination for state attorney general and won the general election.  As AG, he famously wanted nothing to do with Barry Goldwater, his party’s presidential nominee, in 1964.  In 1966, with Sen. Leverett Saltonstall (R) retiring, Brooke, with Salty’s backing, was elected to the Senate in a landslide over ex-Gov. Endicott Peabody (D).  He was easily re-elected in 1972 and was expected to win again in ’78.  But his divorce proceedings turned ugly and personal, and the coverage of it was a disaster; in the end he lost to Rep. Paul Tsongas.  As senator, he voted against President Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees Haynsworth and Carswell, and was the first GOP senator to call for Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal.  Throughout his entire career, he never considered himself as a racial trailblazer. (Jan. 3)

Martin Anderson, 78, a conservative economist who was President Reagan’s first domestic policy adviser. (Jan. 3)

Arch Moore 001Arch Moore, 91, a West Virginia Republican who served 12 years in the House (starting in 1957) and a record 12 non-consecutive years as governor, first winning in 1968, a re-election in 1972 (against Jay Rockefeller) and then, after unsuccessful bids for the Senate in 1978 (vs. Jennings Randolph) and governor again in 1980 (vs. Rockefeller), he was returned to the governorship in 1984.  A talented campaigner, he increased spending on education and state infrastructure.  Defeated in a bid for a fourth term in 1988, he was under ethics clouds for years and, in 1990, was convicted on extortion, mail fraud and obstruction of justice charges.  He spent about 3 years in prison.  His daughter, Shelley Moore Capito, a former member of Congress herself, was elected to the Senate in 2014. (Jan. 7)

Harry DeMaso, 93, a Michigan state senator for 20 years who was a GOP gubernatorial hopeful in 1978. (Jan. 9)

Roger Moyer, 80, a two-term (1965-73) mayor of Annapolis, Md. (Jan. 10)

Robert White, 88, a career diplomat who as President Carter’s ambassador to El Salvador in 1980 publicly accused the government’s death squads of carrying out the murders of human rights crusaders in that country, an action that all but ended his Foreign Service career after Ronald Reagan, who defeated Carter in 1980, came to office. (Jan. 13)

Mary Evelyn Parker, 94, a Louisiana Democrat who served 20 years as state treasurer, beginning in 1968. (Jan. 17)

Wendell Ford, 90, a former Democratic governor of Kentucky who went on to serve four terms as U.S. senator, rising to the post of Democratic Whip.  Elected governor in 1971 and constitutionally unable to seek a second term in ’75, he challenged GOP Sen. Marlow Cook in 1974 and beat him handily.  He was re-elected 3 times, the last time in 1992; no Kentucky Democrat has won a Senate race since.  A moderate, he became Senate Majority Whip in 1990 and was a strong supporter of the state’s tobacco, coal and bourbon interests.  He retired in 1998. (Jan. 22)

John Myers, 87, who spent 30 years as a Republican House member from Indiana but who, when the GOP took control after 1994, was denied the top slot on Appropriations by Speaker Newt Gingrich.  He was first elected to the House in 1966 and rose to become the ranking Republican on the ethics cmte during the investigation into Speaker Jim Wright (D) in 1989 that ultimately forced his resignation.  After the 1994 elections, in which the GOP won the majority for the first time in 40 years, Gingrich passed over the more senior Myers and named Bob Livingston (La.) as Appropriations cmte chair.  Myers retired in 1996. (Jan. 27)

Leon Silverman, 93, a federal prosecutor who investigated Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan in 1982 over charges that he had ties to organized crime. (Jan. 29)

Richard Richards, 82, who as Utah’s GOP chair in 1976 was an early supporter of Ronald Reagan’s challenge to President Gerald Ford and became RNC chair under President Reagan in 1981.  He was also the Republican nominee for an open House seat in 1970 but lost to Gunn McKay (D). (Jan. 30)

Wes Cooley, 82, who served one term in the House (1995-96) as a Republican from Oregon. (Feb. 4)

Bob Hanson, 67, a North Dakota Democrat who served as state Treasurer and Tax Commissioner. (Feb. 4)

Mike Runnels, 69, who served four years as lt. gov. of New Mexico (1983-86) and then twice unsuccessfully (1986 & 2000) sought the House seat once held by his late father, Harold Runnels. (Feb. 5)

REP. ALAN NUNNELEE, 56, a three-term conservative Republican congressman from Mississippi.  First elected in 2010, when he defeated an unlikely Democratic incumbent, Travis Childers, he was handily re-elected two more times. (Feb. 6)

Joe Gaydos, 88, who in 1968 became the first Slovak American elected to Congress when he won a special election in Pennsylvania for the seat of the late Elmer Holland, a fellow Democrat, and served until his retirement in 1992. (Feb. 7)

Don Clausen, 91, a moderate California Republican who challenged Rep. Clement Miller (D) in 1962 and lost, even though Miller had died in a plane crash weeks before the election.  Clausen then won the special election in January 1963 to replace Miller and served until his defeat in 1982 to Democrat Doug Bosco. (Feb. 7)

Bob Simon, 73, a longtime correspondent for CBS News who covered, among other things, the war in Vietnam, the 1991 Gulf War, Northern Ireland, urban riots and national political conventions of both parties. (Feb. 11)

David Carr, 58, the brilliant media columnist and critic for the New York Times. (Feb. 12)

Robert Herzstein, 83, who as the lead counsel for a group of historians and reporters in 1974 successfully sued to keep former President Richard Nixon from removing and controlling White House papers and tapes after his resignation. (Feb. 12)

Arnaud de Borchgrave, 88, a longtime foreign correspondent for Newsweek who later became the editor of the conservative Washington Times. (Feb. 15)

Cass Ballenger, 88, a pro-business conservative Republican congressman from North Carolina who focused on labor issues during his 18 years in office (1987-2004), who won the House seat vacated by Senate hopeful Jim Broyhill in 1986 and retired in 2004.  He is widely remembered for a comment he made about Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a polarizing black Democrat from Georgia, saying that listening to her “developed a little bit of a segregationist feeling” in himself; he later apologized. (Feb. 18)

Thomas Schweich, 54, the Republican state auditor of Missouri and a candidate for governor in 2016. (Feb. 26)

Anthony Cucci, 92, who defeated incumbent Gerald McCann, a fellow Democrat, in the 1985 runoff to become mayor of Jersey City but who lost to him in a 1989 rematch. (Feb. 26)

Lawrence Scanlon, 65, the political director of the labor union AFSCME who worked on behalf of such Democratic presidential hopefuls as Howard Dean (2004) and Hillary Clinton (2008). (Feb. 27)

Bob Armstrong, 82, the Texas Land Commissioner for 12 years who was defeated in the 1982 Dem gov. primary by Mark White. (March 1)

Deedee Corradini, 70, a Utah Democrat and the first woman to be elected mayor of Salt Lake City (1992-2000). (March 1)

M. Stanton Evans, 80, a leader in the conservative movement, former chairman of Young Americans for Freedom and the American Conservative Union, longtime anti-communist activist, early backer of Ronald Reagan’s presidential aspirations and a steadfast supporter of Wisconsin’s Joe McCarthy. (March 3)

F. Ray Keyser, 87, who at 33 was elected as Vermont’s youngest governor in 1960 but who was defeated two years later by Democrat Phil Hoff, which ended 108 years of consecutive Republican control of the governor’s office.  No Vermont governor has been defeated for re-election since. (March 7)

Dave Frohnmayer, 74, a three term attorney general of Oregon who was the GOP nominee for governor in 1990 but lost to Democrat Barbara Roberts. (March 9)

Willie Barrow, 90, who fought for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam and apartheid in South Africa, and who was an early mentor to Barack Obama. (March 12)

Curt Gans, 77, the founder of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, which since the 1970s focused on voter turnout, and who, as a strong opponent of the Vietnam War in 1967, was a leader in the Democratic effort to dump President Johnson and help get Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy the nomination. (March 15)

Charles Shaffer, 82, who defended White House counsel John Dean during the Watergate scandal. (March 15)

Robert Kastenmeier, 91, a strong liberal from Madison, Wisconsin who ousted GOP Rep. Donald Tewes in 1958 on his second try and who served in the House until losing in 1990 in a stunning upset to Scott Klug (R).  He was one of the first congressional opponents of the Vietnam War (taking on LBJ in the process) and served on the Judiciary Cmte during the Nixon impeachment hearings in 1974. (March 20)

Gerald Warren, 84, the editor for the San Diego Union who left journalism in 1969 to become President Nixon’s deputy press secretary.  He kept the position after Gerald Ford assumed the presidency, but Warren returned to the Union in 1975. (March 20)

John Paul Hammerschmidt 001John Paul Hammerschmidt, 92, who in 1966 became the first Republican elected to Congress from Arkansas since Reconstruction and who is perhaps best known during his 26 years in the House for having defeated a young Democrat making his first race in 1974 by the name of Bill Clinton. (April 1)

Sarah Brady, 73, who became a leading gun control activist in the aftermath of the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan that left her husband, White House press secretary James Brady, partly paralyzed. (April 3)

Victor Gotbaum, 93, the leader of AFSCME for two decades in NYC who led strikes by the union but who also played a key role in the survival of the city during its fiscal crisis in the 1970s. (April 5)

Tim Babcock, 95, a Montana Republican who, as lt. gov., became governor in January of 1962 when the incumbent, Donald Nutter, died in a plane crash and who served until his own defeat in 1968 to Forrest Anderson (D).  As governor, he made a bid for the Senate in 1966 but lost to the Democratic incumbent, Lee Metcalf. (April 7)

Stanley Kutler, 80, a historian who sued in 1992 to get the remaining White House tapes released that showed President Nixon’s complicity in the Watergate scandal. (April 7)

Raul Castro, 98, Arizona’s first and only Hispanic governor.  After serving as LBJ’s ambassador to El Salvador and then Bolivia, he came home to run for governor in 1970 but lost to Republican incumbent Jack Williams,  Four years later he was successful in a second attempt, defeating GOP nominee Russ Williams (no relation to Jack).  Less than three years later, Castro was appointed by President Carer as ambassador to Argentina. (April 10)

Bruce Alger 001Bruce Alger, 96, an outspoken conservative Republican congressman from Dallas starting in 1955 until he was defeated in 1964 in the midst of the LBJ landslide.  His angry confrontation with then-Sen. Johnson, the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1960, just a week before the election is thought to have backfired and may have cost Richard Nixon the state (and the presidency) that year.  Leading a demonstration against Johnson and his wife in Dallas, one of Alger’s female allies grabbed Lady Bird Johnson’s gloves from her and threw them in the gutter; others spat at the Johnsons.  Alger himself had called Johnson a “socialist” and a “traitor.”  He lost his House seat in 1964 to Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell (D). (April 13)

Norm Bangerter, 82, who in 1984 ended 24 years of Democratic rule in Utah when he was elected governor and whose support for a tax increase nearly upended his second term bid in 1988. (April 14)

Buddy Temple, 73, the Texas Railroad Commissioner and who, like Bob Armstrong above, ran for governor in 1982 but lost in the Dem primary to Mark White. (April 14)

Robert Griffin, 91, a Michigan Republican who served in the House and the Senate and who famously called on President Nixon to resign during the Watergate scandal.  First elected to the House in 1956, he was best known for his role in the 1959 passage of the Landrum-Griffin Act, a labor law that regulates Bob Griffin 001unions’ internal affairs.  After the Goldwater landslide defeat of 1964, Griffin was part of a group that dumped Rep. Charlie Halleck (R-Ind.) as House minority leader and replaced him with another Michigan Republican, Gerald Ford.  In 1966, after Sen. Pat McNamara (D) died, GOP Gov. George Romney appointed Griffin to the seat.  That fall he easily beat back a challenge from ex-Gov. G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams (D).  In 1968 Griffin led the filibuster that kept lame duck President Lyndon Johnson from naming his pal Abe Fortas as chief justice.  Elected GOP Whip in 1969 and re-elected to the Senate in 1972, he made a bid for minority leader in 1977 but was defeated by Tennessee’s Howard Baker by a vote of 19-18.  After that defeat he announced he would retire in 1978 but later changed his mind.  That change of heart contributed to his loss in ’78 to Democrat Carl Levin. (April 16)

Dan Walker, 92, who walked the state of Illinois during his run for governor in 1972 and stunned the machine of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and the state Democratic Party by winning, first over Lt. Gov. Paul Simon in the Dem primary, and then in the general election against GOP incumbent Richard Ogilvie.  With not much of a record to run on in his bid for a second term in 1976, and with his relations with his fellow Democrats at rock bottom, he was defeated in the primary by Daley-backed Michael Howlett, the secretary of state.  Years later, his activities with a Chicago savings and loan led to his conviction on fraud and perjury charges, and he went to prison in 1987. (April 29)

Harry Geisinger, 81, a Georgia state rep who finished 4th in the 1974 GOP primary for governor. (May 1)

Jim Wright, 92, a powerful Texas Democrat whose long rise up the House hierarchy resulted in his election as Speaker in 1987, but who was gone two years later, having resigned amid an ethics investigation into his business dealings.  He was first elected to Congress in 1954 after defeating a fellow Democrat, Rep. Jim Wright 001Wingate Lucas, in the primary.  In 1961 he unsuccessfully ran in the special multi-candidate Senate race to replace Lyndon Johnson, who was elected vice president.  Wright voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act but supported subsequent civil rights legislation.  In 1976, when Rep. Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) became speaker, he sought O’Neill’s post as House majority leader.  In a memorable four-way battle, he ultimately prevailed by one vote over California’s Phil Burton.  When O’Neill retired after 1986, Wright became speaker.  A powerful and sometimes arrogant speaker, he often collided with the Reagan administration over Central American policy.  But his tenure, already rocked over the issue of a congressional pay raise, got far more precarious when GOP backbencher Newt Gingrich, aided by the liberal advocacy group Common Cause, tore into him over questions about profits he made from suspicious book deals and countless violations of congressional rules.  In April of 1989, the ethics cmte found that Wright had violated said rules some 69 times; he resigned in a famous May 31 hour-long address to the House, complaining of lawmakers’ propensity for “mindless cannibalism.” (May 6)

Stanley Sproul, 95, a Maine state rep and mayor of Augusta who lost the 1974 Republican gov primary. (May 13)

Ed Fouhy, 80, a top TV network executive with stints at CBS, NBC and ABC, and who produced the presidential debates in 1988 and 1992. (May 13)

Alfred DelBello, 80, a former Democratic mayor of Yonkers and county executive of Westchester who became New York’s lt. gov. in a shotgun marriage with Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1982, but who quit two years later, citing boredom. (May 15)

Nelson Doi, 93, the Democratic lt. gov. of Hawaii from 1975-78.  (May 16)

Dick Mountjoy, 83, a former California state assemblyman and senator who was the GOP nominee for the Senate in 2006 and got clobbered by incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein. (May 18)

Happy Rockefeller, 88, a New York divorcee/socialite whose 1963 marriage to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who left his own wife for her, helped doom Rocky’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964. (May 19)

John Murphy, 88, a Democrat from Staten Island (NY) whose 18-year House career came to an end in 1980 when he was caught taking a bribe in the Abscam sting operation.  First elected to Congress in 1962 on his second try, Murphy was a pro-life and pro-Vietnam War lawmaker, positions that became more muted in the Democratic Party.  His bid for NYC mayor in 1969 went nowhere but he kept getting returned to Washington with comfortable margins.  In 1980, he was caught on video in the Abscam sting; under indictment, he lost his bid for re-election in 1980 to Republican Guy Molinari.  He was later convicted of conspiracy and taking bribes and served 16 months in prison. (May 25)

Beau Biden 001Beau Biden, 46, the former two-term Democratic state attorney general of Delaware (2007-14) who was plotting a 2016 run for governor and who was the cherished son of Vice President Joe Biden.  He passed on an opportunity to succeed his father in the Senate in 2010. (May 30)

Mervin Field, 94, a giant in the world of political polling who created the California Poll in 1947, later known as the Field Poll, and whose rare but best known example of inaccuracy came during the state’s 1982 gov. race, where he predicted Tom Bradley, the black Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, would defeat George Deukmejian, the white Republican state attorney general.  The Democrat lost, and a new polling catchphrase was born: white voters who did not want to tell pollsters they would vote against a black candidate (even if they intended to) became known as the “Bradley Effect.” (June 8)

Clementa Pinckney, 41, a Democratic state senator from South Carolina. (June 17)

Phil Austin, 74, a member of Firesign Theater who memorably played “Nick Danger” on one of the group’s albums and whose death notice inclusion here is really baffling. (June 18)

Mario Biaggi, 97, a highly decorated NYC police officer who was elected to an open congressional seat from the Bronx in 1968 as a Democrat and served until he was forced out of office by corruption convictions 20 years later.  A conservative, he entered the 1973 NYC mayoral election as the favorite.  But not long before the Mario Biaggi 001Dem primary it was revealed he plead the 5th Amendment in a grand jury proceeding about his financial dealings, and he finished back in the pack, a primary won by city Comptroller Abe Beame.  Biaggi was routinely re-elected to his House seat in landslides.  But he got caught up in two criminal investigations in 1987 and 1988, ending in convictions for racketeering, conspiracy and extortion,  He resigned from Congress in 1988 before he was expelled and his seat was won by state Rep. Eliot Engel (D).  Sentenced to eight years in prison, he was released after just over two years (because of “poor health”) and sought to regain his seat in 1992.  But his challenge to Engel in the Dem primary fell way short. (June 24)

Ben Wattenberg, 81, a neoconservative Democrat who supported the presidential campaign of Henry “Scoop” Jackson for president in the 1970s and who was best known for his books (“The Real Majority”), organizations (Coalition for a Democratic Majority) and TV programs (“Think Tank” on PBS). (June 28)

Wayne Townsend, 89, an Indiana state senator who was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1984, losing to incumbent Bob Orr. (July 3)

Helen Holt, 101, who won the West Virginia house of delegates seat held by her late husband, ex-Sen. Rush Holt (D), briefly served as W.Va. secretary of state and spent a career looking after the interests of senior citizens. (July 12)

Marlene Sanders, 84, one of the pioneers in female TV broadcast journalism (ABC, CBS) who in 1964 became the first woman to anchor a network evening newscast. (July 14)

Richard Leone, 75, the former chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the campaign manager for Brendan Byrne’s two successful runs as governor of New Jersey, and who ran for the Senate in 1978, where he lost the Democratic primary to Bill Bradley. (July 16)

Richard Schweiker, 89, a two-term Republican liberal senator from Pennsylvania who became Ronald Reagan’s surprise choice as running mate prior to the 1976 GOP convention in a failed effort to wrest delegates away from President Gerald Ford.  Schweiker was first elected to the House in 1960, defeating Schweiker 001Republican incumbent John Lafore in the the primary, and spent eight years in office as a moderate conservative.  In 1968 he defeated Sen. Joseph Clark (D), a Vietnam War dove who had his own problems in the party from the pro-Johnson Administration wing and from gun rights supporters.  For his part, Schweiker was pro-gun and pro-life, but on other issues he moved to the left, especially on Vietnam.  He also opposed Nixon’s Supreme Court nominations of Haynsworth & Carswell and called for the president’s resignation during Watergate.  Reagan, who was challenging Ford for the presidential nomination in 1976, stunned the political world by naming Schweiker as his running mate in advance of the GOP convention, hoping the move would split the Pennsylvania delegation and move delegates in his direction.  But it didn’t do much other than to enrage conservatives who accused Reagan of selling them out.  Schweiker didn’t seek a third Senate term in 1980, and after Reagan was elected president in 1980, he picked him as his HHS Cabinet secretary. (July 31)

Elsie Hillman, 89, a longtime Republican activist and funder from Pennsylvania who was a major backer of many moderate Keystone State pols such as William Scranton, John Heinz, Arlen Specter, Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge. (Aug. 4)

Julian Bond 001Julian Bond, 75, the legendary civil rights leader who was the longtime chair of the NAACP, co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center and once headed SNCC.  Bond won national attention in 1966 when the U.S. Supreme Court intervened to seat him in the Georgia state legislature after white lawmakers refused to do so after his 1965 election because of his opposition to the Vietnam war.  In 1968 he was nominated for vice president at the Democratic convention but had to withdraw from consideration because he was only 28 years old, short of the constitutionally mandated 35.  In the legislature for 20 years, he ran for Congress in 1986 but lost an ugly Democratic primary to John Lewis, who still serves. (Aug. 15)

Louis Stokes, 90, who in 1968 won a newly-created House seat from Ohio and became the state’s first black member of Congress, and who in the next 30 years helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, chaired the House ethics cmte and headed up the select cmte that looked into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  He retired in 1998. (Aug. 18)

David Stanley, 86, the Republican nominee for the Senate from Iowa in both 1968 (losing to Harold Hughes) and 1974 (losing to John Culver). (Aug. 26)

Marvin Mandel, 95, who succeeded Spiro Agnew as governor of Maryland in 1969 after Agnew became vice president and who himself resigned in 1975 following his conviction on corruption charges.  As speaker of the state House of Delegates, he was elected governor by the state legislature when Agnew departed.  Elected in 1970 and again in 1974, he worked on environmental protection, gun control and highway and mass transit infrastructure.  In 1975, a year after a prolonged and embarrassing divorce proceeding, he was convicted for helping associates profit from a racetrack deal and getting cash, jewelry and vacation trips in return.  He resigned the governorship and went to prison.  His conviction was overturned by a federal court in 1987. (Aug. 30)

Edward Fadeley, 85, a Democratic legislator from Oregon who lost to Neil Goldschmidt in the 1986 gov. primary. (Aug. 30)

Peter Hannaford, 82, a top aide, PR guru and speechwriter to Ronald Reagan, from his days as gov. of California to his election as president in 1980 and who was also the GOP nominee for Congress in 1972, losing in a landslide to Rep. Ron Dellums (D). (Sept. 5)

Andy Kohut, 73, the former head of the Gallup organization who started the Pew Research Center and was one of the most widely respected, nonpartisan and accurate pollsters of our time. (Sept. 8)

Jim Santini, 78, a four-term congressman from Nevada who switched to the GOP after leaving the House.  A conservative Democrat, he ousted GOP Rep. David Towell in 1974 and served until 1982, when he challenged Sen. Howard Cannon in the Dem primary and lost narrowly.  In 1986, Republican Sen. Paul Laxalt, who was retiring that year, recruited Santini to switch parties and run for the seat.  He did but was defeated by Harry Reid. (Sept. 22)

Walter Miller, 89, who became governor of South Dakota in April of 1993 when the incumbent, fellow Republican George Mickelson, died in a plane crash.  Hoping to win a full term on his own in 1994, he was defeated in the GOP primary by ex-Gov. Bill Janklow. (Sept. 28)

Don Edwards, 100, a liberal champion from California who served in Congress from 1962, when he won a newly-created district, until his retirement in 1994.  A former FBI agent (and a former Republican), he was an early opponent of the Vietnam War, a strong supporter of civil rights and a fervent advocate of the removal of President Nixon.  He served on the House Judiciary Cmte during the impeachment hearings in 1974. (Oct. 1)

Stephen Wiley, 86, a former state senator from New Jersey who lost in the 1985 Democratic gov. primary. (Oct. 8)

Leon Bramlett, 92, the Republican nominee for governor of Mississippi in 1983, when he lost to Bill Allain. (Oct. 19)

Willis Carto, 89, a far-right anti-Semitic extremist who headed up Liberty Lobby, backed George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign and spent decades insisting the Holocaust never happened. (Oct. 26)

Gus Savage, 90, a fiery Democratic congressman from Chicago’s South Side (1981-1992) who came to Washington as a civil rights activist and opponent of Mayor Richard J. Daley and who was widely accused of being both a race-baiter and anti-Semite.  He won an open House seat in 1980 on his third try and spent much of his 12 years in Congress attacking and ridiculing whites and Jews, before his defeat in the 1992 primary to Mel Reynolds. (Oct. 30)

Fred Thompson 001Fred Thompson, 73, the counsel to Tennessee GOP Sen. Howard Baker whose question during the 1973 Senate Watergate hearings regarding the existence of a White House taping system brought him national attention, which led to an acting career, eight years in the Senate from Tennessee and a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.  In 1994, he won the Senate seat that Al Gore had vacated after being elected vice president, was elected to a full term two years later, and retired in 2002.  In 2007 he left his job as star of the TV program “Law & Order” to seek the GOP presidential nomination.  He joined the race amid great excitement and briefly led in the polls.  But his campaign never really took off and he was out of the race in January of ’08. (Nov. 1)

Robert VanderLaan, 85, the majority leader of the Michigan state Senate whose unsuccessful bid to succeed Gerald Ford in Congress in a special 1974 election against Richard Vander Veen attracted national attention.  His defeat in the rock-ribbed GOP district sent shock waves to Republicans across the country, who realized that the Watergate scandal could prove to be a bigger albatross for the party than they originally thought. (Nov. 1)

Barbara Snelling, 87, the widow of Vermont Gov. Richard Snelling who went on to a political career of her own as lt. gov. and state senator. (Nov. 2)

Howard Coble, 84, whose 30 years in Congress from North Carolina (1985-2014) made him the longest serving Republican in the House from the Tar Heel State.  He defeated incumbent Dem Robin Britt in 1984, survived a rematch in 1986 by just 79 votes, and retired in 2014.  A conservative, he sometimes broke with his party, most notably in 2005 over the wisdom of the war in Iraq. (Nov. 3)

Tim Valentine, 89, a North Carolina Democrat who was elected to Congress in 1982 and who during his 12 years in office was a staunch defender of tobacco interests. (Nov. 10)

Allen Ertel, 78, a three-term Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania (1977-82) who was his party’s nominee for governor in 1982, when he lost to incumbent Republican Dick Thornburgh.  He also ran and lost for state attorney general in 1984.  (Nov. 19)

John Zuccotti, 78, a top aide to NYC Mayor Abe Beame (and before that a former top aide to Mayor John Lindsay) who played a major role in saving the city from bankruptcy during the 1970 fiscal crisis.  He seriously considered running for mayor in 1977 on the assumption Beame would retire; Beame didn’t and lost renomination in the Democratic primary. (Nov. 19)

James McKay, 98, the independent counsel during the Reagan years who decided that in the corruption investigation into the Wedtech scandal, Attorney General Ed Meese “probably violated the criminal law” but chose not to pursue criminal charges because there was “no evidence that he acted out of self-interest.” He also investigated Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger. (Nov. 23)

Olene Walker, 85, who became Utah’s first and only female governor in 2003 when, as lt. gov., she succeeded Mike Leavitt, who was appointed head of the EPA under President George W. Bush.  With very strong approval ratings, she tried to hold onto the job in 2004 but finished fourth at the GOP convention that was eventually won by Jon Huntsman Jr. (Nov. 28)

David Cohen, 79, who served as president of the liberal public interest group Common Cause from 1975 to 1981. (Nov. 29)

Sandy Berger, 70, a longtime staffer for Democratic presidential candidates (McGovern, Carter, Dukakis) and later President Clinton’s national security adviser and political confidant who played a major role in formulating America’s foreign policy, but who is also known for something he did in the post-Clinton era: having plead guilty to stealing documents from the National Archives relating to Clinton’s policy towards al Qaeda. (Dec. 2)

Bob Clark 002Bob Clark, 93, a former ABC News White House and political correspondent who was the moderator of the network’s “Issues and Answers” Sunday program and who was the only journalist to witness the assassinations of both John (Dallas 1963) and Robert (Los Angeles 1968) Kennedy.  And, he was a good friend and a wonderful human being. (Dec. 5)

Evelyn Lieberman, 71, a longtime adviser to Democrats such as President Clinton, Joe Biden (during his Senate tenure) and Hillary Clinton (during the 2008 campaign), and who was responsible for the reassigning of Monica Lewinsky after it became clear that the White House intern was spending too much time around the Oval Office. (Dec. 12)

Buckshot Hoffner, 91, a longtime North Dakota Democratic state legislator who lost a bid for Congress in 1966 to GOP incumbent Mark Andrews and later the 1984 gov. primary to George Sinner. (Dec. 17)


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