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Phil Crane, Former Illinois Congressman, Dies At 84

Philip Crane, a former Illinois congressman who spent 35 years in the House of Representatives, has died of lung cancer at the age of 84.

Crane, a conservative Republican and anti-tax crusader, was a history professor before he became a politician. He entered Congress in 1969, and he "was the longest-serving House Republican when he was defeated in 2004 by Democrat and then-political newcomer Melissa Bean," writes The Associated Press. The wire service continues:

Crane also made an unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, losing out to the eventual winner, Ronald Reagan, who would go on to become the politician most closely associated with the modern conservative movement.

But Crane had touted what he saw as the virtue of smaller government going back to the 1960s, spelling out his vision of a stripped down, low-tax federal government in his 1976 book, "The Sum of Good Government."

"Phil was conservative before it was cool to be conservative," said [former congressional aide Eric] Elk.

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