Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2011

Nothing, many will agree, seems to be working in Washington these days. The degree of acrimony between the Democrats and Republicans appears to be at an all-time high.

In looking at a list of those who passed in 2011, I'm struck by how many who believed in working across the aisle, believed more in getting things done than making a point. I don't know if we will ever return to those days in our lifetime; certainly not in the politically-charged year of 2012.

A beloved, frank and outspoken former first lady. i i

hide captionA beloved, frank and outspoken former first lady.

Ken Rudin collection
A beloved, frank and outspoken former first lady.

A beloved, frank and outspoken former first lady.

Ken Rudin collection

But before we get to Iowa and New Hampshire and the conventions and the general election, a look back at 2011, remembering those voices in the world of politics we lost. Among the departed are two former Democratic vice presidential candidates. One, Geraldine Ferraro, made history by becoming the first woman to run for V.P. on a major-party ticket; the other, Sargent Shriver, was named only after the Democrats' original choice imploded over secrets from his past. Florida's Claude Kirk and Texas' Bill Clements were their respective states' first Republican governors since Reconstruction. John Cashin was the first African-American to seek the governorship of Alabama in history, at a time when George Wallace was still the undisputed leader of the state. Ellen McCormack was the first presidential candidate to base her entire campaign on the issue of abortion. Two GOP senators on the list, Charles Percy and Mark Hatfield, didn't always see eye to eye with their party. Richard Poff, his voting record on race under the microscope, walked away from a Supreme Court appointment.

And we lost one of the nation's most popular first ladies in history, Betty Ford.

Presented here 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.

William Ratchford, 76, a Connecticut Democrat who served three terms in the House before losing in 1984 to John Rowland, a Republican who would later become governor. Narrowly defeated in his first bid for Congress in 1974 by Ron Sarasin (R), he won the seat four years later when Sarasin left to run for governor. (Jan. 2)

William Walsh, 98, who served three terms (1973-78) as a Republican House member from New York. A former mayor of Syracuse, he was the father of ex-Rep. James Walsh, who served 20 years until his retirement in 2008. (Jan. 8)

Howard Pollock, 90, Alaska's second House member since achieving Statehood in 1959. A Republican, he unseated Rep. Ralph Rivers (D) in 1966 and served two terms before losing the 1970 GOP primary for governor. (He also unsuccessfully ran for gov. in the 1962 primary.) He was succeeded in the House by Nick Begich, who was his Democratic opponent in '68. (Jan. 9)

McGovern and Shriver
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Sargent Shriver, 95, the Democrats' choice for vice president in 1972 after their original nominee, Sen. Tom Eagleton, was forced off the ticket amid revelations of previous bouts of depression and electroshock therapy. The McGovern-Shriver ticket lost 49 states that year to the Republican ticket led by President Richard Nixon. Shriver, who was married to Eunice Kennedy, the sister of President John F. Kennedy, was JFK's choice to become the first head of the Peace Corps in 1961; he was also President Johnson's ambassador to France. A gubernatorial hopeful from Maryland in 1970, he also sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, but a weak 5th-place finish in New Hampshire was the beginning of the end. (Jan. 18)

Wayne Grisham, 88, a California Republican who won an open House seat in 1978 and served until 1982, when redistricting forced him to run against fellow-GOP Rep. David Dreier in the primary. (Jan. 19)

Jay Rhodes, 67, whose father was the longtime House Minority Leader and who won his dad's seat in Congress. When John Rhodes, an Arizona Republican, retired in 1982, the seat was won by John McCain. When McCain left to run for the Senate in '86, Jay Rhodes replaced him. He won two landslide re-elections, but in 1992, caught with 32 overdrafts in the House banking scandal, he lost to Sam Coppersmith (D). As president of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, he became a friend and a big fan of the Political Junkie column. (Jan. 20)

Mike Michaelson, 86, the superintendent of the House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery until he left to become executive VP of C-SPAN in 1981. (Jan. 23)

David Frye, 77, the impressionist and satirist from the 1960s and '70s who specialized in portraying Richard Nixon. (Jan. 24)

Guy Velella, 66, a former state senator from the Bronx who was the borough's only Republican elected official, and whose influence in Albany ended in 2004 after his indictment and conviction for bribery. (Jan. 27)

Douglas Head, 80, Minnesota's GOP state attorney general who lost his bid for governor in 1970 to Democrat Wendell Anderson. (Feb. 2)

Earle Morris, 82, the lt. gov. of South Carolina whose attempt to move up to the governorship was thwarted in the 1974 Democratic primary, where he finished third. (Feb. 9)

Steve Horn, 79, a moderate California Republican who was elected to the House in 1992, winning the seat vacated by Democrat Glenn Anderson. He served until 2002, when the legislature eliminated his district and he retired. In his first bid for Congress, in 1988, he lost to Dana Rohrabacher in the GOP primary for an open seat. (Feb. 17)

Bill Monroe, 90, who succeeded Lawrence Spivak in 1975 as moderator of NBC's "Meet the Press." (Feb. 17)

Russell Peterson, 94, a pro-environment Delaware Republican who served one term as governor (1969-72) and was later chairman of the Council of Environmental Quality under Presidents Nixon and Ford, but whose battles with members of his party led him to endorse Jimmy Carter for president in 1980 and become a Democrat in 1996. (Feb. 21)

James Damman, 78, a Michigan Republican who served as lt. gov. under Gov. William Milliken (R) from 1975 to '78. (Feb. 23)

John Armstrong, 72, the former deputy D.C. bureau chief for ABC News. (Feb. 25)

Jim McClure
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James McClure, 86, a conservative Republican from Idaho who served in Congress for 24 years, including three terms as senator. In 1966 he ousted Rep. Compton White (D). Six years later, he defeated fellow GOP Rep. George Hansen in the primary en route to the first of his Senate victories. A strong advocate of gun rights and development policy — he chaired the Energy Committee — he hoped to succeed Howard Baker as Senate GOP Leader in 1984 but lost in a five-way contest eventually won by Bob Dole. He retired in 1990. (Feb. 26)

David Broder, 81, perhaps the most preeminent political journalist in the nation, reporting for more than four decades for the Washington Post. (March 9)

Mike Posner, 79, a longtime political reporter for UPI and Reuters who covered Congress and national conventions. (March 11)

Richard Wirthlin, 80, the pollster for Ronald Reagan who joined the Californian's staff in 1968 while he was still governor, worked on the Gipper's 1976 presidential bid, and became a top Reagan adviser and strategist throughout his White House years. (March 16)

Warren Christopher, 85, the deputy secretary of state in the Carter administration who negotiated the release of the U.S. hostages held by Iran in 1981, and who became President Clinton's first secretary of state. He headed up the search committee that picked Al Gore as Clinton's running mate, and he led Gore's legal team during the 2000 Florida recount. (March 18)

John Cashin, 82, an Alabama civil rights leader and founder of the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA) who in 1970 became the first African American to run for governor of his state since Reconstruction, garnering about 15% of the vote as an independent against George Wallace. (March 21)

Leonard Weinglass, 77, a left-wing defense attorney who represented, among others, Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman during their trial for conspiracy in the aftermath of the calamitous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case, Black Panther Angela Davis in a murder and kidnapping case, and Bill and Emily Harris, the Symbionese Liberation Army folks who were responsible for the 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst. (March 23)

Geraldine Ferraro
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Geraldine Ferraro, 75, the first woman to appear on a major-party presidential ticket when she became Walter Mondale's nominee for vice president in 1984. A Democrat from Queens, N.Y., Ferraro won an open Democratic congressional seat in 1978 and quickly advanced up the leadership ladder, becoming chair of the 1984 Democratic Platform Committee. Mondale picking her as his running mate broke historic barriers, but ultimately it failed to make a difference at the ballot box; the Mondale-Ferraro ticket lost 49 out of 50 states to Reagan and Bush, who even won a majority of female voters. For much of the campaign, Ferraro was on the defensive over the business practices of her husband, real estate businessman John Zaccaro. She was also attacked by the Catholic church for her support of abortion rights. In 1992 she decided to take on GOP Sen. Al D'Amato, but her bid for the Democratic nomination fell just 1 percent short to Robert Abrams, the state attorney general. She ran again in 1998, but got clobbered in the primary by Charles Schumer, who won the seat. (March 26)

Ellen McCormack
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Ellen McCormack, 84, a Long Island housewife who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 in a campaign based solely on her opposition to abortion. She won about 238,000 votes in the primaries and got 22 delegates, and made history in becoming the first female presidential candidate to qualify for both federal financing and Secret Service protection. She also ran for lt. gov. of New York in 1978 on the Right to Life Party banner. In 1980, she made an independent run for the White House, but most anti-abortion voters rallied behind Ronald Reagan. (March 27)

Ned McWherter, 80, a Democratic power-broker in Tennessee who was speaker of the state House for a record 14 years and a successful two-term governor. He won his first gov. term in 1986, defeating ex-Gov. Winfield Dunn (R), and was re-elected four years later in a landslide. During his administration he worked to increase spending in education and health care for the poor. (April 4)

John Adler, 51, a New Jersey Democrat who won a congressional seat long held by the GOP but who lost it two years later. When Rep. Jim Saxton (R) retired in 2008, Adler won the seat. But in the GOP sweep of 2010, he lost to Jon Runyon, a former lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles. (April 4)

Kam Kuwata, 57, a leading California Democratic strategist who worked for Sens. Alan Cranston and Dianne Feinstein. (April 11)

Harold Volkmer, 80, a 10-term Democratic member of the House from Missouri who was one of his party's strongest opponents of gun control. He was first elected to Congress in 1976. While more conservative than most Democrats in the House, he became a strong foe of Republicans generally and House Speaker Newt Gingrich specifically. In 1996 he was narrowly defeated by Republican Kenny Hulshof. (April 16)

William Rusher, 87, one of the original leaders of the modern conservative movement who helped get Barry Goldwater to run for president in 1964 and who was the longtime publisher of National Review, the magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. (April 16)

William Schaefer
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William Donald Schaefer, 89, a political gadfly who served two terms as governor of Maryland but whose true love seemed to always be Baltimore, where he was mayor for 16 years. A longtime city councilmember, he was elected mayor in 1971, where he was responsible for remaking of what was a crumbling city. In his three bids for re-election, he won more than 85% of the vote each time. Running for governor in 1986, his 82% of the vote is a state record. He won a second term in '90 but was term limited in '94. In 1998, he was elected state comptroller and served two terms, where he often feuded with his fellow Democrats. He was defeated for a third term in the 2006 primary. (April 18)

Robert Duncan, 90, who after two terms in the House (1963-66) was the Democratic nominee for the Senate from Oregon in 1966, when he lost to liberal Republican Mark Hatfield, who was governor at the time. He returned to the House in the 1974 elections, winning an open seat and serving until 1980, when he was beaten in the primary by Ron Wyden. (April 29)

Robert Ellsworth, 84, a former congressman from Kansas who became a key campaign official in Richard Nixon's successful bid for the presidency in 1968. While Nixon was losing his 1960 race to John Kennedy, Ellsworth, a liberal Republican, ousted freshman Rep. Newell George (D). In 1966, as an opponent of the Vietnam War, he challenged moderate Sen. James Pearson in the GOP primary from the left, but lost. Despite his views about Vietnam, Ellsworth became close with Nixon, who named him his national campaign director in '68, and was later ambassador to NATO. A lifelong war opponent, he backed Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama for president in 2008. (May 9)

Jeff Gralnick, 72, a longtime political producer for all three major TV networks who (and this is the most important part of his bio) headed up ABC News election coverage when I got there in 1983. His journalism career was briefly interrupted when he served as press secretary for George McGovern's early days as a presidential candidate in 1971. (May 9)

Daniel Vovak, 39, who lost the 2006 GOP Senate primary in Maryland to then-Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. (May 21)

Peter Frelinghuysen, 95, a member of a famed New Jersey Republican political family, who served in the House from 1953 until his retirement in 1974. His family produced four U.S. senators, as well as his son Rodney, who has been in the House since 1995. During his 22 years in Congress, in which he easily won election, he was regarded as a fiscal conservative who often took moderate positions on the environment and civil rights. (May 23)

William Perry Clements, Jr.
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Bill Clements, 94, a millionaire Texas oilman who in 1978 became the first Republican since Reconstruction to win the governorship of the Lone Star State. Brash and colorful, he took advantage of a split in Democratic ranks that year, as the incumbent governor lost the Dem primary to a more liberal opponent, state Attorney General John Hill. Conservative Democrats then rallied behind Clements, who won a narrow victory. But Clements had troubles with the overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature, and not much was accomplished during his term. Democrat Mark White, with a strong black and Hispanic turnout, turned Clements out in 1982. But Clements returned the favor four years later. Linked to a scandal involving the Southern Methodist University football program, he did not seek another term in 1990. (May 29)

Matt Fong, 57, for the former California state treasurer who in 1998 was the Republican nominee for the Senate against Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer. His opponent in the GOP primary was Darrell Issa, now a member of the House. His mother was March Fong Eu, a Democrat who served as California's secretary of state for five terms. (June 1)

Walter Peterson, 88, a two-term Republican governor of New Hampshire whose bid for a third term ended in 1972, when he lost the GOP primary to Meldrim Thomson. (June 2)

Lawrence Eagleburger, 80, a nominal Republican-leaning diplomat who worked for five presidents, culminating in a brief tenure as secretary of state in the waning days of the administration of the first President Bush. (June 4)

Graham Purcell, 92, a Texas Democrat who won a special House race in 1961 after Frank Ikard (D) resigned and who served until he lost a 1972 bid for re-election when his district was merged with that of GOP Rep. Bob Price. (June 11)

Betty Roberts, 88, an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination from Oregon in 1974. Later that year, she was named as her party's nominee for the Senate against GOP incumbent Bob Packwood after ex-Sen. Wayne Morse died after winning the primary. (June 25)

Dick Poff
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Richard Poff, 87, a conservative Republican House member from Virginia who, because of his record on civil rights, was forced to turn down President Nixon's offer to nominate him to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971. Elected to Congress in 1952, he joined 100 other members who in 1956 signed the "Southern Manifesto" protest of the '54 Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation in public schools. In 1960 he was considered a potential Nixon running mate. When Justice Hugo Black announced his retirement in 1971, Poff was Nixon's first choice. By then, Poff had recanted some of his early positions on race, but it was too late; he withdrew his name from consideration, and didn't seek re-election to the House in 1972. (June 27)

Charles Whalen, 90, who during his six terms in office (1967-78) was considered one of the most liberal Republicans in the House. An early foe of the Vietnam War, he ousted freshman Ohio Rep. Rodney Love (D) in 1966. Several times he offered resolutions to withdraw from Vietnam, and often clashed with the Armed Services Cmte chair, Mendel Rivers (D-S.C.). He retired in 1978 and became a Democrat the following year. (June 27)

Orvin Fjare, 93, a one-term Republican member of the House from Montana (1955-56) who lost a close Senate race in 1960 to Democrat Lee Metcalf. (June 27)

A beloved, frank and outspoken former First Lady.
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Betty Ford, 93, who as First Lady for two-plus years in the 1970s won over an American public with her candid opinions and who polls showed was more popular than her husband, Gerald Ford. A proponent of abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment, she also was up front about her struggles with cancer and addictions. (July 8)

Frank Mascara, 81, a four-term Democratic member of the House from Pennsylvania. His campaign slogan for local office early in his career was ... wait for it ... "Your Mascara is running." First elected to Congress in 1994, he served until 2002, when redistricting eliminated his seat and he was forced to run against fellow Democrat John Murtha, who beat him convincingly in the primary. (July 10)

James Molloy, 75, the last Doorkeeper of the House of Representatives, before Republicans eliminated the position upon taking office in 1995. Starting his career in Democratic politics in Buffalo, N.Y., Malloy was elected doorkeeper by Dem House members in 1974. After the 1994 elections, the GOP abolished the position in an effort to save money. (July 19)

Bruce Sundlun, 91, whose multiple marriages made as much news as he did during his tenure as governor of Rhode Island. A Democrat and telecommunications multimillionaire, his first two runs for governor were failures, losing to incumbent Republican Ed DiPrete in a landslide in 1986 and in a squeaker in 1988. In 1990, running again, he beat DiPrete, who was enmeshed in scandal, with about three-quarters of the vote. He won a second term in '92, but in '94, he got clobbered by about 30 points in the Democratic primary by state Sen. Myrth York, the first time a Rhode Island governor was ousted in the primary. He was also married five times, with four divorces along the way. (July 21)

William Hildenbrand, 89, a Republican Senate aide who was named Secretary of the Senate in 1981, when the GOP took control of the chamber for the first time in 26 years. (July 21)

Charles Manatt, 75, who chaired the Democratic National Committee after President Carter's defeat in 1980 but who was unable to bring the party back to power. As DNC chair starting in 1981, he used innovative tactics and solid fundraising to help rebuild the party, which made major gains in the House in 1982. But in 1984, Walter Mondale, the party's presidential nominee, attempted to replace Manatt with Bert Lance, Carter's old ally. With party regulars furious, Mondale backed down, an event that hurt his cause. Stepping down after Mondale's landslide loss to President Reagan, Manatt signed on with White House hopefuls Gary Hart and then Paul Simon in 1988. He was President Clinton's ambassador to the Dominican Republic. (July 22)

Milton Gwirtzman, 74, a longtime political confidant for John, Robert and Edward Kennedy, starting with JFK's presidential bid in 1960. (July 23)

Clarence Miller, 93, a veteran Republican member of the House (1967-92) who was a longtime proponent of cutting spending. He ousted Rep. Walter Moeller (D) in 1966 and won routine re-elections in landslide fashion. But in 1992, his district was eliminated and he decided to challenge Rep. Bob McEwen, a fellow Republican, in the primary. In a bitter battle between the low-key Miller and the bombastic McEwen — who had bank overdraft problems — Miller lost by just 286 votes. Miller never fully conceded, and the GOP disunity helped elect a Democrat: Ted Strickland, who had previously run for the seat three times, losing each time. (Aug. 2)

Bernadine Healy, 67, the first woman to lead the National Institutes of Health who lost the 1994 GOP primary for the Senate from Ohio to Mike DeWine. (Aug. 6)

Mark Hatfield
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Mark Hatfield, 89, a liberal Republican senator from Oregon who was a noted opponent of the Vietnam War and defense spending. He also opposed the death penalty as well as abortion, and was a strong proponent of civil rights. Elected governor in 1958 and again in '62, he won an open Senate seat, narrowly, in 1966, running as a dove against Rep. Robert Duncan, a Democrat who supported President Johnson on the war. Despite his views, he was thought to be on Richard Nixon's short list for vice president in 1968. And in four successful runs for re-election, his primary vote never dipped below 61%. He was the deciding vote against a balanced-budget constitutional amendment in 1995, a vote that so infuriated freshman Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) that he tried to dislodge him as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. With the GOP moving steadily to the right and faced with a potentially serious primary challenge — and damaged by a Senate Ethics Committee rebuke in 1992 for failing to disclose gifts — he decided against a 6th-term bid in 1996. (Aug. 7)

Carey for Governor
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Hugh Carey, 92, who as governor of New York helped save NYC from bankruptcy in the 1970s. A liberal Democrat from Brooklyn, he upset GOP Rep. Francis Dorn in 1960. In 1969, he announced his candidacy for mayor of New York but dropped out to run for city council president on a ticket led by ex-Mayor Robert Wagner. That entire ticket lost in the primary. In 1973, longtime GOP Gov. Nelson Rockefeller resigned, replaced by his loyal lt. gov., Malcolm Wilson. Carey jumped into the 1974 gov. race, first surprising the polls by trouncing Howard Samuels in the primary and then, in an election year defined by Watergate, easily defeating Wilson. Bailing out NYC was his first crisis. President Ford, in the words of the famous Daily News headline ("Ford to City: Drop Dead"), refused to go along with a bailout. Carey, working with Mayor Abe Beame and financial officials, helped rescue the city in 1975. But he was not universally popular with his fellow Democrats, and in fact his own lt. gov., Mary Anne Krupsak, challenged him for renomination in 1978. But he won that race, and beat his Republican opponent, Assembly Speaker Perry Duryea, as well. With dwindling approval ratings and faced with the possibility of a primary challenge from his own handpicked lt. gov., Mario Cuomo, he decided against seeking a third term in 1982. Cuomo won that race. (Aug. 7)

Charles Wyly, 77, a Texas billionaire who along with his brother Sam was a major donor to Republican causes and candidates, including Gov. Rick Perry. (Aug. 7)

Howard Paster, 66, a Washington lobbyist who became a top aide to President Clinton and who, despite Democratic Party unhappiness, helped push the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through Congress in 1993. (Aug. 10)

Joseph Mohbat, 73, a former Associated Press political reporter who covered Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential run and who later served as press secretary of the DNC. (Aug. 10)

Bob Shamansky, 84, a one-term Democratic member of the House from Ohio whose victory — beating GOP incumbent Sam Devine in the big Republican year of 1980, and defeat — losing to GOP challenger John Kasich in the big Democratic year of 1982 — confounded conventional wisdom. (Aug. 11)

Frank Jackman, 79, a longtime journalist who served as Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News and covered the 1963 March on Washington, the resignation of President Nixon, and the Iran-contra scandal. (Aug. 14)

Nora Bredes, 60, an anti-nuclear activist from New York who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Congress on Long Island in 1996, losing to GOP incumbent Michael Forbes. (Aug. 18)

Charles Gubser, 95, a conservative Republican from California who served 11 terms in the House, first winning in 1952 and retiring in '74. (Aug. 20)

Peter Terpeluk, 63, a prominent GOP fundraiser who served as Finance Director for the Republican National Committee and who was President George W. Bush's ambassador to Luxembourg. (Aug. 23)

David Bitner, 62, the former Florida state GOP chair (Sept. 8).

Erwin Mitchell, 87, who was elected to the House in 1958 as a Democrat from Georgia and served one term. (Sept. 13)

Carl Oglesby, 76, a Vietnam War opponent who headed Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s. (Sept. 13)

Malcolm Wallop
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Malcolm Wallop, 78, a leading conservative Republican senator from Wyoming who battled on behalf of President Reagan's tax cuts and fought against leftists in Central America. An unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 1974, who ran a mostly moderate campaign in the primary, stressing the environment, he was an unabashed conservative two years later when he ousted Sen. Gale McGee, one of the Senate's more centrist Democrats. Wallop won two more Senate terms and retired after 1994. (Sept. 14)

James Cannon, 93, a writer and editor for Newsweek magazine who later became an aide to New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, a domestic policy adviser to President Gerald Ford and, finally, chief of staff to Senate GOP Leader Howard Baker. (Sept. 15)

Kara Kennedy, 51, daughter of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. (Sept. 16)

Illinois' Charles Percy was a Republican rising star following his 1966 election to the Senate.
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Charles Percy, 91, a moderate Illinois Republican who served three terms in the Senate and rose to become chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. President of Bell & Howell, he ran for governor in 1964 but, hurt by having Barry Goldwater atop the ticket, narrowly lost the race to incumbent Democrat Otto Kerner. Two years later, he unseated liberal Sen. Paul Douglas (D) and immediately found himself talked about as a future presidential candidate. One roadblock to his moving up was that on many issues he associated himself with the liberal ("Rockefeller") wing of the party — he was a dove on Vietnam — and was widely critical of President Nixon, especially as more details came out about the Watergate scandal. The other is that, as he was plotting out a run for 1976, his plans were scuttled when Nixon resigned and was succeeded by Jerry Ford, who sought the White House for himself. Percy won two more Senate terms, in 1972 and '78. By the time he sought a fourth term, in 1984, he was heading up Foreign Relations and was targeted by many in the Jewish community for what they saw as his hostility towards Israel. He faced a stubborn primary challenge from Rep. Tom Corcoran, a conservative, and lost a narrow general election contest to Rep. Paul Simon. (Sept. 17)

Eleanor Mondale, 51, the daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale and a TV entertainment reporter. (Sept. 17)

Justin Feldman, 92, a Manhattan attorney who helped manage Robert Kennedy's 1964 Senate campaign and who as a Reform Democrat had a long history in taking on Tammany Hall. (Sept. 21)

Rolland Redlin, 91, a one-term Democratic House member from North Dakota, who defeated GOP incumbent Don Short in 1964 but lost two years later to Thomas Kleppe (R). (Sept. 23)

Claude Kirk
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Claude Kirk, 85, a flamboyant, charming and sometimes infuriating Florida Republican who was his state's first GOP governor since Reconstruction. A Democrat who switched parties during Richard Nixon's 1960 bid for president, Kirk was the GOP nominee against Sen. Spessard Holland in 1964 but lost badly. Two years later he won the governorship as the Democrats self-destructed; incumbent Gov. Haydon Burns was beaten in a bitter primary by liberal Miami Mayor Robert King High, and many Burns supporters gravitated to Kirk. The book on Gov. Kirk was mixed; he made many solid appointments and worked to improve the environment. But at the same time, he was often seen as a showman, openly pining for the vice presidency in 1968 and supporting failed U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harrold Carswell for a Senate seat over the rest of the party establishment. He was defeated after one term in 1970 by Democrat Reubin Askew. He later returned to the Democratic fold and ran, unsuccessfully, for governor and the Senate. He also made half-hearted bids for the presidency. (Sept. 27)

Richard Mallary, 82, a Vermont congressman who in 1974 became the first Republican from his state to lose a Senate race in history. Mallory won a special House election in 1971 to succeed Robert Stafford, a Republican who also won a special election to replace the late Sen. Winston Prouty. Heavily favored to succeed the retiring Sen. George Aiken (R) in 1974, he was upset by Patrick Leahy who, with help from the Watergate scandal, became the first Vermont Democrat to win a Senate seat. (Sept. 27)

Steve Daley, 62, a former political reporter for the Chicago Tribune who covered Congress and the presidential campaigns. (Oct. 2)

Kenneth Dahlberg, 94, the Midwest finance chair for the Committee to Re-elect the President, whose campaign check to Nixon fundraising head Maurice Stans wound up in the bank account of Bernard Barker, one of the Watergate burglars — which provided the first concrete evidence that linked the Nixon campaign to the Watergate break-in. Dahlberg was absolved of any wrongdoing, but tracing his check by Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein helped end Nixon's presidency. (Oct. 4)

Fred Shuttlesworth, 89, a civil rights leader from Alabama who survived beatings and bombings to fight racial justice alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy in the 1950s and '60s. (Oct. 5)

Albert Rosellini, 101, a former two term governor of Washington. A longtime state legislator, he was elected governor in 1956 and again in 1960. During his tenure, the state prison system was reformed, and he worked to improve the state infrastructure. But there were also reports that he may have done improper favors for friends, contributors and Mob figures, reports that contributed to his defeat in 1964 to Republican Dan Evans. Sitting out the '68 election, he attempted a comeback in 1972 but again lost to Evans. (Oct. 10)

Franklin Kameny, 86, a leading figure in the gay rights movement whose 1971 bid to become the District of Columbia's non-voting congressional delegate failed in the Democratic primary. (Oct. 11)

Matthew Martinez, 82, a Democratic member of the House from California for 18 years who angrily switched to the GOP in 2000 after losing the Democratic primary for another term. Martinez first came to the House after a special election in 1982, when Rep. George Danielson (D) left to accept appointment to the state court of appeals. In November he knocked off rightwing Rep. John Rousselot after the Republican's seat was eliminated. Throughout his tenure, Martinez had a mostly liberal record, but he also opposed abortion and gun control. Those positions led Hilda Solis, then a state senator and now the secretary of labor, to take him on in the primary. Defeated in a landslide, Martinez bolted to the Republican Party not long after the primary. (Oct. 15)

Virginia Knauer, 96, a leading consumer adviser to three Republican presidents who earlier in her career served as a GOP member on the Philadelphia city council. (Oct. 16)

Ed Thompson, 66, who served as mayor of Tomah, Wisc., and was the Libertarian Party nominee for governor in 2002, receiving 11% of the vote. His brother is Tommy Thompson, the former governor and 2012 GOP Senate hopeful. (Oct. 22)

Robert Pierpoint, 86, a former CBS News correspondent who covered the Korean War, the JFK assassination, and every president from Eisenhower to Carter. (Oct. 22)

Perkins Bass, 99, a New Hampshire Republican who served in the House from 1955, after he won the seat vacated by Senate candidate Norris Cotton, to 1962, when he sought the Senate seat of the late Styles Bridges but a brutal GOP primary left him vulnerable in the general election and he lost to Thomas McIntyre (D). His son, Charlie Bass, currently serves in the House. (Oct. 25)

Howard Wolpe, 71, a former congressman from Michigan who was his party's gubernatorial nominee in 1994. He narrowly lost to GOP Rep. Garry Brown in 1976 but reversed the result in a rematch two years later. In the House he was a leading proponent of sanctions against South Africa's apartheid government. A victim of redistricting in 1992, he left the House but two years later challenged GOP Gov. John Engler. After defeating Debbie Stabenow in that year's primary, he took her as his running mate. But Engler won in a landslide. (Oct. 26)

James Forrester, 74, a Republican state senator from North Carolina who led the successful fight to put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot. (Oct. 31)

Dorothy Rodham, 92, the mother of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Nov. 1)

Mel Hancock, 82, who served four terms in the House as a Republican from Missouri. A well-known fiscal and social conservative, he ran for the Senate in 1982 but lost the GOP primary to incumbent John Danforth, and two years later he was defeated by Democrat Harriett Woods for lt. gov. He came to Congress in the 1988 elections and served until retiring after 1996. (Nov. 6)

Hal Bruno, 83, the former political director for ABC News whose exemplary career was in tatters when he brought Ken Rudin to Washington as his deputy in 1986. He also moderated the three-way 1992 vice presidential debate, remembered less for the bickering between Al Gore and Dan Quayle and more for the "who am I? why am I here" comment by independent James Stockdale. (Nov. 8)

Emory Folmar, 81, the former mayor of Montgomery who was the Republican nominee for governor of Alabama in 1982, losing to a comebacking George Wallace. (Nov. 11)

Julius Michaelson, 89, the former Rhode Island state attorney general who was the Democratic nominee for the Senate in 1982, narrowly losing to GOP incumbent John Chafee. (Nov. 12)

Richard Kuh, 90, who was appointed Manhattan district attorney in early 1974 by New York Gov. Malcolm Wilson to succeed the ailing, and legendary, Frank Hogan. But Kuh was defeated in the Democratic primary by Robert Morgenthau and again in the general, when Kuh decided to run as a Republican. (Nov. 17)

Sanford Garelik, 93, who was elected city council president in 1969 on a ticket led by NYC Mayor John Lindsay and tried, briefly, to succeed Lindsay four years later. (Nov. 19)

Gordon Clinton, 91, a two-term (1956-64) mayor of Seattle. (Nov. 19)

George Gallup Jr., 81, who led the polling firm founded by his father until his retirement in 2004. (Nov. 21)

Carlos Moorhead, 89, who was a member of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 when it dealt with the impeachment of President Nixon. A conservative Republican, he was first elected to Congress in 1972. In line to head up a committee after the GOP won control in 1994, he was passed over by Speaker Newt Gingrich, who felt he wasn't tough enough to battle the Democrats. He did not seek re-election in 1996. (Nov. 23)

Tom Wicker, 85, a former reporter and liberal columnist for the New York Times. (Nov. 25)

William Waller, 85, who years prior to becoming governor of Mississippi twice unsuccessfully prosecuted Byron De La Beckwith, the murderer of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Evers was assassinated in 1963 and Waller, the district attorney in Hinds County, attempted to prove De La Beckwith's guilt before all-white juries. A fifth-place finisher in the 1967 Democratic primary for governor, he was elected four years later; his opponent, ironically, was Evers' brother Charles, who was the mayor of Fayette running as an independent. Elected by a multi-racial coalition, Waller appointed numerous blacks to boards and did away with vestiges of segregation. Barred by state law from seeking re-election, he ran again in 1987, finishing third in the primary. He also lost a bid for the Senate in 1978, when he placed last in the primary. (Nov. 30)

Richard Rabbitt, 76, a former Democratic speaker of the Missouri House who lost a 1976 bid for lt. governor. (Dec. 9)

Bill McLaughlin, 79, whose tenure from 1969 to 1979 made him the longest serving GOP state chair in Michigan history and who was instrumental in bringing the Republican national convention to Detroit in 1980. (Dec. 11)

Christopher Hitchens, 62, an acerbic and provocative writer whose long alliance with the left was permanently frayed with his support for the U.S. war in Iraq. (Dec. 15)

Henry Cotto, 81, a Texas Republican insider who formed a strong bond with George H.W. Bush and became his ambassador to Britain in 1989. He was also the top Pentagon spokesman during the Reagan administration and the director of the U.S. Information Agency under Bush. (Dec. 18)

Click here for my compilation of 2010 deaths.

2009 deaths.

2008 deaths.

2007 deaths.

2006 deaths.

2005 deaths.

2004 deaths.

The Political Junkie column, along with the delightful ScuttleButton puzzle, resumes in 2012. Got a question? Want to be added to my mailing list? politicaljunkie@npr.org

Have a great, safe and Happy New Year!

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