NPR logo Jack Kemp, Ex-Congressman & Dole '96 Running Mate, Dies At 73

Jack Kemp, Ex-Congressman & Dole '96 Running Mate, Dies At 73

Jack Kemp, the former conservative representative from western New York who hoped to succeed his hero, Ronald Reagan, as president in 1988, and who reappeared as a candidate as the Republican vice presidential running mate in 1996, has died. He was 73 and had been suffering from cancer.

Kemp was an NFL quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and later the Buffalo Bills. When he retired, he decided to run for the congressional seat in Buffalo vacated in 1970 by Richard "Max" McCarthy, who was seeking the Democratic Senate nomination. Kemp won the seat and held it until 1988, when he made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He ran as the "heir" to the Reagan Revolution, but as a candidate he failed to make a difference. He was out of the race by March, shortly after Super Tuesday. He could have gone back to New York and defended his House seat but decided instead to retire.

Meanwhile, the presidential nomination, and the election, was won by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, who later named Kemp to the Cabinet as his secretary of housing and urban development.

In 1996, Bob Dole selected him as his running mate. The Dole-Kemp ticket lost to Democratic incumbents Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

In January of this year, Kemp disclosed he had cancer.