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History Shorts: The First Hispanic Congressman Fights for His Seat

History Shorts: The First Hispanic Congressman Fights for His Seat

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1 Congressional Record, House, 44th Cong., 2nd sess. (28 February 1877): 2016.

2 “Joseph Hayne Rainey,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–Present, “The Legislature,” 23 September 1868, Charleston Daily Courier: 4 “The Negro Representative—How He Looks, Etc.,” 14 December 1870, Cleveland Plain Dealer: 2.

3 “Married,” 17 September 1859, Philadelphia Press: 2 1900 United States Federal Census, Springfield Ward 8, Hampden County, Massachusetts, T623, Enumeration District 598, Page 18B, National Archives and Records Administration,

4 Cyril Outerbridge Packwood, Detour–Bermuda, Destination–U.S. House of Representatives The Life of Joseph Rainey (Hamilton, Bermuda: Baxter’s Limited, 1977): 10–12 “South Carolina Congressmen,” 18 November 1870, Cincinnati Daily Gazette: 3 “The Congressmen Elect in South Carolina,” 19 November 1870, Pittsburgh Post: 4. Barber’s Alley in St. George’s, Bermuda, is named for Rainey.

5 Packwood, Detour–Bermuda, Destination–U.S. House of Representatives: 14–15.

6 “The South Carolina Radical Convention,” 29 July 1867, Charleston Mercury: 1.

7 Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of South Carolina, vol. 1 (Charleston: Denny & Perry, 1868) “Negro Convention,” 16 January 1868, Charleston Mercury: 3 “South Carolina: General Canby’s Official Announcement of the Result,” 9 May 1868, Philadelphia Inquirer: 2.

8 Congressional Globe, House, 41st Cong., 2nd sess. (24 February 1870): 1544 House Committee on Military Affairs, B. F. Whittemore, 41st Cong., 2nd sess., H. Rept. 29 (1871): 1–16.

9 Michael J. Dubin, U.S. Congressional Elections, 1788–1997 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1998): 214.

10 Special Senate Committee, In the Senate of the United States, 45th Cong., 3rd sess., S. Rept. 784 (1879): 53.

11 “Our Washington Letter,” 8 May 1874, Jamestown Journal (NY): 4 Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Rediscovering Rainey’s Reign,” 27 April 2016, Whereas: Stories from the People’s House.

12 Congressional Globe, House, 42nd Cong., 1st sess. (1 April 1871): 393–395.

13 Eric Foner, The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2019): 117–120 Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988): 454–455.

14 Congressional Globe, House, 42nd Cong., 1st sess. (1 April 1871): 395.

15 Congressional Globe, House, 42nd Cong., 1st sess. (1 April 1871): 395.

16 An Act to enforce the Provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other Purposes, 17 Stat. 13 (1871).

17 Foner, The Second Founding, 120 Foner, Reconstruction: 457–459.

18 “More Loyal Men Threatened in South Carolina,” 18 May 1871, New York Times: 1.

19 Congressional Globe, House, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess. (5 March 1872): 1439–1440.

20 Foner, The Second Founding: 139.

21 Congressional Record, House, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess. (3 February 1875): 959.

22 Congressional Globe, Appendix, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess. (3 February 1872): 15–17.

23 Congressional Record, House, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess. (3 February 1875): 960.

24 Foner, The Second Founding: 143, 151.

25 Congressional Record, Appendix, 45th Cong., 3rd sess. (3 March 1879): 267.

26 Congressional Record, House, 44th Cong., 1st sess. (20 April 1876): 2669.

27 Congressional Record, House, 43rd Cong., 1st sess. (13 June 1874): 4967–4968.

28 Congressional Record, Appendix, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess. (2 March 1875): 184–185 Congressional Record, House, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess. (3 March 1875): 2262–2263 House Select Committee on the Freedman’s Bank, Freedman’s Bank, 44th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 502 (1876) Reginald Washington, “The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company and African American Genealogical Research,” Prologue 29:2 (1997): 170–181.

29 Dubin, U.S. Congressional Elections, 1789–1997: 233 “Notes from the Capital,” 24 January 1876, New York Times: 1 Chester H. Rowell, A Historical and Legal Digest of All the Contested Election Cases (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1901): 313.

30 House Committee on Elections, Lee vs. Rainey, 44th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 578 (1876) Congressional Record, House, 44th Cong., 1st sess. (23 June 1876): 4076.

31 Fritz Hamer, “Wade Hampton: Conflicted Leader of the Conservative Democracy?,” in South Carolina and the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras, ed. Michael Brem Bonner and Fritz Hamer (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2016): 240–254.

32 Foner, Reconstruction: 571–573.

33 Congressional Record, House, 44th Cong., 1st sess. (15 July 1876): 4644–4645.

34 Congressional Record, Appendix, 44th Cong., 2nd sess. (21 February 1877): 218.

35 Dubin, U.S. Congressional Elections, 1788–1997: 240.

36 Rowell, A Historical and Legal Digest of All the Contested Election Cases: 337.

37 Dubin, U.S. Congressional Elections, 1788–1997: 247.

38 Congressional Record, Appendix, 45th Cong., 3rd sess. (3 March 1879): 265.

39 H.R. 5250, 45th Cong. (1878).

40 “The Republican Caucus,” 18 March 1879, New York Times: 1.

41 “Ex-Congressman Rainey Gets A Position,” 8 August 1879, New Orleans Daily Democrat: 1.

42 “Joseph H. Rainey,” 13 August 1887, New York Freeman: 2 “The National Capital,” 29 December 1883, New York Globe: 1 “Rainey and Chew,” 21 November 1885, Washington Bee: 3.


Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, a product of one of America's most prominent political families. He was a grandson of Attorney General and Secretary of War Alphonso Taft, and the elder son of President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Helen Louise "Nellie" Herron. His younger brother Charles Phelps Taft II served as the Mayor of Cincinnati and was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Ohio Governor in 1952. As a boy he spent four years in the Philippines, where his father was governor. He was first in his class at the Taft School (run by his uncle), at Yale College (1910), and at Harvard Law School (1913). He was a member of Psi Upsilon, his father's fraternity [2] and Skull and Bones, [3] and edited the Harvard Law Review. In 1913, Taft scored the highest in the state on the Ohio bar exam. He then practiced for four years with the firm of Maxwell and Ramsey (now Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP) in Cincinnati, his family's ancestral city. After a two-year stint in Washington working for the Food and Drug Administration, he returned to Cincinnati and opened his own law office. In 1924 he and his brother, Charles, helped form the law partnership Taft, Stettinius, and Hollister with which he continued to be associated until his death and continues to carry his name today.

On October 17, 1914, he married Martha Wheaton Bowers (1889–1958), [4] daughter of Lloyd Wheaton Bowers and Louisa Bennett Wilson. Taft himself appeared taciturn and coldly intellectual, characteristics that were offset by his gregarious wife, who served the same role his mother had for his father, as a confidante and powerful asset to her husband's political career. In May 1950, Martha suffered a severe stroke that left her an invalid, leaving her confined to a wheelchair, unable to take care of herself, and reliant upon her husband, children, and nurses for support. [5] A biographer called his wife's stroke "the deepest personal blow of [Taft's] life . there was no denying that he suffered." [6] Following her stroke, Taft faithfully assisted his wife, called her every night when he was away on business, read stories to her at night when he was at home, "pushed her about in her wheelchair, lifted her in and out of cars . tenderly did his best to make her feel comfortable and happy, and helped feed and take care of her at public functions" - facts which, his admirers noted, belied his public image as a cold and uncaring person. [7] They had four sons: William Howard Taft III (1915–1991), who became ambassador to Ireland Robert Alphonso Taft Jr. (1917–1993), who was also elected to the U.S. Senate Lloyd Bowers Taft (1923–1985), [8] who worked as an investment banker in Cincinnati, [9] and Horace Dwight Taft (1925–1983), who became a professor of physics and dean at Yale. [10] Two of Robert and Martha's grandsons are Robert Alphonso "Bob" Taft III (born 1942), Governor of Ohio from 1999 to 2007, and William Howard Taft IV (born 1945), Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1984 to 1989.

In 1917, Taft and his wife bought a 46-acre (190,000 m 2 ) farm in Indian Hill, a well-to-do suburb of Cincinnati. Called Sky Farm, it would serve as Taft's primary residence for the rest of his life. The Tafts gradually made extensive renovations that turned the small farmhouse into a sixteen-room mansion. On the farm Taft enjoyed growing strawberries, asparagus, and potatoes for profit. During the summer, Taft often vacationed with his wife and children at the Taft family's summer home at Murray Bay, in Quebec, Canada. [11] Although he was nominally a member of the Episcopal church, his biographer James Patterson noted that Taft's "religious inclinations were weak" and that he was a "Sunday morning golfer, not a church-going Episcopalian." [12] When reporters asked his wife Martha what church he attended, she jokingly replied, "I'd have to say the Burning Tree", an exclusive country club and golf course in suburban Washington. [13]

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Taft attempted to join the army but was rejected due to his poor eyesight. Instead, he joined the legal staff of the Food and Drug Administration where he met Herbert Hoover, who became his idol. In 1918 and 1919, he was in Paris as legal adviser for the American Relief Administration, Hoover's agency to distribute food to wartorn Europe. He came to distrust governmental bureaucracy as inefficient and detrimental to the rights of the individual, a principle he promoted throughout his career. He urged membership in the League of Nations [14] but generally distrusted European politicians. He endorsed the idea of a powerful world court to enforce international law, but no such idealized court ever existed during his lifetime. He returned to Cincinnati in late 1919, promoted Hoover for president in 1920, and opened a law firm with his brother, Charles Taft. In 1920 he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, where he served as Republican floor leader and was Speaker of the House from January 1926 to January 1927. In 1930, he was elected to the Ohio Senate, but was defeated for re-election in 1932 it would be the only general election defeat of his career. He was an outspoken opponent of the Ku Klux Klan, and he did not support prohibition. In 1925 he voted against a bill, sponsored by Ohio state representatives who were members of the Ku Klux Klan, to outlaw dancing on Sundays, and he led the fight against a Klan-sponsored bill requiring all Ohio public school teachers to read at least ten verses of the Bible each day in class. [15] In his speech opposing the bill, Taft stated that religion should be taught in churches, not public schools, and while the Bible was great literature, "in it religion overshadows all else." The bill passed the legislature over the opposition of Taft and his allies, but it was later vetoed by Ohio's governor. [15]

Taft's period of service in the Ohio state legislature was most notable for his efforts to reform and modernize the state's antiquated tax laws. [16]

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Taft was a powerful figure in local and state political and legal circles, and he was known as a loyal Republican who never threatened to bolt the party. He confessed in 1922 that "while I have no difficulty talking, I don't know how to do any of the eloquence business which makes for enthusiasm or applause." [17] A lackluster speaker who did not mix well or glad-hand supporters, Taft was still a tireless worker with a broad range of policy and political interests. His total grasp of the complex details of every issue impressed reporters and politicians. (Democrats joked, "Taft has the best mind in Washington, until he makes it up.")

Taft's loyalty to the conservative politicians who controlled Ohio's Republican Party had a price, as it often caused conflict with his younger brother, Charles, who as a local politician in Cincinnati had gained a reputation as a party maverick and liberal. However, despite their occasional policy disagreements, Charles loyally supported all three of his brother's presidential bids.

Taft was elected to the first of his three terms as US Senator in 1938. He first defeated Ohio Supreme Court justice Arthur H. Day in the Republican primary, and then defeated the Democratic incumbent, Robert Bulkley, in the general election. [18] Taft engaged Bulkley in several debates and was generally regarded as the winner. [19] He struggled in the earlier debates but later came out on top through assistance from his wife, Martha, [19] who would be regarded as the most valuable asset in his campaign. [20] As a result, Taft gained the upper hand against Bulkley, who had earlier been regarded as the frontrunner in the race, [19] and won the election by nearly 171,000 votes, or 53.6% of the total vote. [21] During his first two years as a Senator, the Tafts rented a home in Washington, but in 1941 they purchased a brick Victorian home, built in the 1880s, in the city's Georgetown neighborhood. [22] The home – despite lacking "the grace and amenities of Sky Farm", their home in Ohio – remained their Washington residence until Taft's death in 1953. [22]

Opposition to New Deal Edit

Co-operating with Conservative Democrats, he led the Conservative Coalition that opposed the New Deal. The Republican gains in the 1938 elections, combined with the creation of the Conservative Coalition, had stopped the expansion of the New Deal. However, Taft saw his mission as not only stopping the growth of the New Deal but also eliminating many of its government programs.

During his first term in the Senate, Taft criticized what he believed was the inefficiency and waste of many New Deal programs and of the need to let private enterprise and businesses restore the nation's economy instead of relying upon government programs to end the Great Depression. He condemned the New Deal as socialist and attacked deficit spending, high farm subsidies, governmental bureaucracy, the National Labor Relations Board, and nationalized health insurance. However, he did not always follow conservative ideology for instance, after investigating the lack of adequate housing in the nation, he supported public housing programs. [23] He also supported federal aid to the states to fund public schools. [24]

Taft set forward a conservative domestic program that promoted limited government spending, a balanced federal budget, low taxes, pro-business policies to spur economic growth, a limited number of social welfare programs (such as Social Security, a minimum wage, public housing and federal aid to public education), and an adequate national defense focused on strengthening the Navy and Air Force. [25] In foreign policy, he advocated noninvolvement in European wars and military alliances. [26] He also strongly opposed the military draft on the principle that it limited a young man's freedom of choice. [27] Various historians have described Taft, in terms of political philosophy, as a libertarian he opposed nearly all forms of governmental interference in both the national economy and in the private lives of citizens. [28]

On Independence Day 1945, Taft announced his intention to combat the Bretton Woods monetary agreement on the Senate floor, adding that his battle consisted of trying to add amendments to the bill through the Senate committee and that he wanted the agreement postponed until conditions had stabilized. [29]

In January 1946, after President Truman delivered a radio address calling for Americans to pressure their representatives in Congress for legislation the president called "vital", Taft asserted that Truman had chosen to follow the economic views of the CIO-PAC and left the Democratic Party split and his legislative recommendations stalled despite the Democratic majority in Congress. [30]

Opposition to World War II Edit

Taft's greatest prominence during his first term came not from his fight against the New Deal but rather from his vigorous opposition to US involvement in the Second World War. A staunch non-interventionist, Taft believed that America should avoid any involvement in European or Asian wars and concentrate instead on solving its domestic problems. He believed that a strong military, combined with the natural geographic protection of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, would be adequate to protect America even if Germany overran all of Europe. Between the outbreak of war in September 1939, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Taft opposed nearly all attempts to aid countries fighting Germany. That brought him strong criticism from many liberal Republicans, such as Wendell Willkie, who felt that America could best protect itself by supporting the British and their allies. Although Taft fully supported the American war effort after Pearl Harbor, he continued to harbor a deep suspicion of American involvement in postwar military alliances, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Taft was the representative to speak in opposition to Japanese-American internment. [31]

1944 re-election Edit

In 1944 Taft was nearly defeated in his bid for a second term in the Senate. His Democratic opponent, former Ohio Lt. Governor William G. Pickrel, received major support from Ohio's labor unions and internationalists, and lost by fewer than 18,000 votes out of nearly three million cast, or a margin of less than one percent. [32] Taft lost Cleveland, the state's largest city, by 96,000 votes, and he trailed in most of Ohio's largest urban areas, but he ran strong in the state's rural regions and small towns, carried 71 of Ohio's 88 counties, and so avoided defeat. [32] His near-defeat in 1944 "was ever to confound Taft's insistence that he was a potent vote getter", and played a role in his failure to win the Republican presidential nomination in 1948. [33] Following his re-election, Taft became chairman of the Senate Republican Conference in 1944.

Britain Edit

In March 1946, after the Truman administration pushed for granting Britain a loan of $3.75 billion, Taft advocated for Britain receiving an "outright gift" in place of the loan and said it "would cause irritation" between the latter country and the United States for the next 50 years during his questioning of Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson as part of the Senate Banking committee. [34] Taft asserted that the State Department had acted with "complete secrecy" in negotiating the loan, as no member of Congress had been consulted, and that the proposal would face opposition in Congress for this reason. [34] Taft proposed that Britain could receive the funds it would have had from the loan by adding the US gift of $1 billion with an advance from the International Bank and the International Fund. [34]

Education Edit

In March 1946, Taft joined Senators Lister Hill and Elbert Thomas in introducing a version of the Hill-Thomas Federal Aid to Education bill. [35]

Condemnation of Nuremberg Trials Edit

Taft condemned the postwar Nuremberg Trials as victor's justice under ex post facto laws, in which the people who won the war were the prosecutors, the judges, and the alleged victims, all at the same time. Taft condemned the trials as a violation of the most basic principles of American justice and internationally accepted standards in favor of a politicized version of justice in which court proceedings became an excuse for vengeance against the defeated. [36]

I question whether the hanging of those, who, however despicable, were the leaders of the German people, will ever discourage the making of aggressive war, for no one makes aggressive war unless he expects to win. About this whole judgment there is the spirit of vengeance, and vengeance is seldom justice. The hanging of the eleven men convicted will be a blot on the American record, which we shall long regret. [37]

His opposition to the trials was strongly criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike, [ citation needed ] and it is sometimes given as the main reason for his failure to secure the Republican nomination for president. [ citation needed ] Other observers, such as Senator John F. Kennedy (in Profiles in Courage), applauded Taft's principled stand even in the face of great bipartisan criticism. [ citation needed ]

1947 Taft–Hartley Labor Act Edit

When the Republicans took control of Congress in 1947, he focused on labor-management relations as Chair of the Senate Labor Committee. Decrying the effect of the Wagner Act in tilting the balance toward labor unions, he wrote the 1947 Taft–Hartley Act, which remains the basic labor law. It bans "unfair" union practices, outlaws closed shops, and authorizes the President to seek federal court injunctions to impose an 80-day cooling-off period if a strike threatened the national interest. Taft displayed all of his parliamentary skills in getting the bill through Congress. When President Harry Truman vetoed it, Taft then convinced both houses of Congress to override the veto.

By early 1949, Elbert Thomas sponsored legislation sent to Congress by the Truman administration that would repeal the Taft–Hartley Act. Taft predicted that a majority of the Taft–Hartley Act would remain in law and began a week-long period of "one hard-pounding argument after another" defending the legislation. [38] Later that month, Senators Wayne Morse and Irving Ives indicated interest in offering a new labor bill that would remove the section of the Taft–Hartley Act allowing the government to have 80 day injunctions to halt critical strikes, the two publicly stating their hope that Taft would back the legislation. [39] In May, amid the Truman administration's attempts to repeal the Taft–Hartley Act through its own legislation, Taft joined fellow Republicans Howard Alexander Smith and Forrest C. Donnell in introducing legislation that Taft promoted as retaining "the best features of the Taft–Hartley law." [40] In June, ahead of the Senate opening debate on labor legislation, Taft stated there would be a battle fought between his amended Taft–Hartley Act and President Truman's proposal for a repeal and confirmed to reporters he was "not contemplating any new concessions." [41] When the Senate resumed debate on June 8, Taft responded to Elbert D. Thomas in a speech charging Democratic members of the Senate Labor Committee with playing partisan politics in their handling of the Truman administration Taft–Hartley Act repeal bill. [42]

Second term Edit

From 1947 to 1949, when the Republicans controlled the Senate for the first time since 1931, Taft was his party's leading voice in domestic policy. [43] He was reluctant to support farm subsidies, a position that hurt the GOP in rural areas (especially in the Midwest) in the 1948 elections. Taft engineered the passage of the Housing Act of 1949, which funded slum clearance and the construction of 810,000 units of low-income housing over a period of six years. It was one of the few Fair Deal proposals of Truman that he liked. [44] In March 1947, Taft charged Senate Democrats with deliberately stalling legislation and threatened to continually request sessions for the purpose of forwarding the Republican legislative program. [45] In January 1948, Taft delivered a speech responding to President Truman's State of the Union address in which he charged the legislative proposals of the Truman administration with leading the United States to bankruptcy and totalitarianism while pledging the Republican-controlled Congress would not allow them to pass, saying they followed the principle of the New Deal in "promising the people something for nothing." Taft added that the Republicans intended to introduce their own program to reduce expenses and cut both taxes and the tax burden. [46] In turn, Truman Democrats labelled the GOP-controlled 80th congress the "Do Nothing Congress", and accused Taft and Republicans legislators of engaging in obstructionism for purely political purposes. [47]

In February 1949, after losing control of the senate to Democrats in the 1948 election, Taft announced the Republican Party policy committee had agreed to support a motion by California Senator William Knowland aimed at changing the rules of curbing filibusters. [48] In March 1949, the Senate Labor Committee approved the Truman administration's labor bill without changing a comma and while overriding Republican protests, Taft responding that the act was "the most heavy-handed procedure" he had seen since being in the Senate. [49] That year, Taft supported a health program calling for federal outlays of $1.25 billion during the period of the next five years and stated no major health legislation would be passed during the current congressional session. [50] In July 1950, as Senate tax writers gathered in Washington for the first time to discuss the tax reduction voted on by the House, Taft publicly admitted his lack of enthusiasm with a provision calling for the payment of corporate taxes to be sped up within the next five years. [51] Taft stated that Republicans would support a general tax increase during the fall. [52] The same month, during an effort by Republicans to suppress the report by Senate Democrats attacking the charges of Senator Joseph McCarthy, Taft joined Kenneth S. Wherry in predicting an effort to send the majority report back to the committee with an order calling for a bipartisan investigation of the loyalty program of the federal government. [53]

In foreign policy, he was non-interventionist and did not see Stalin's Soviet Union as a major threat. However, he called David Lilienthal "soft on the subject of Communism." [54] The true danger, he believed, was big government and runaway spending. He supported the Truman Doctrine and reluctantly approved the Marshall Plan but opposed NATO, as unnecessary and provocative to the Soviets. He took the lead among Republicans in condemning Truman's handling of the Korean War and questioning the constitutionality of the war itself: "My conclusion, therefore, is that in the case of Korea, where a war was already under way, we had no right to send troops to a nation, with whom we had no treaty, to defend it against attack by another nation, no matter how unprincipled that aggression might be, unless the whole matter was submitted to Congress and a declaration of war or some other direct authority obtained." [55] In April 1949, during a debate on renewal of the Marshall Plan bill, Taft stated the US could see either a tax increase or budget deficit in the event that foreign aid and other government spending were not reduced. [56] Later that month, a compromise European Recovery Program passed both the House and Senate, within minutes of each other. Taft stated he was hopeful the Appropriations Committees would reduce the cash total by ten percent and led an unsuccessful attempt to trim the bill by the aforementioned amount. [57] In June 1949, Taft indicated his support for reducing funding for the European Recovery Program, saying the Economic Corporation Administration could stand a 10 percent cut in the funding approved by the House. [58] In August 1950, Taft stated the United States had invited the attack in Korea, adding that the real problem was whether the United States was going to "outfit the armed forces" or build up American forces in anticipation of a war against Russia in the following two years, and an all-out rearming of the US would lead to World War III. [59]

Support of Israel Edit

Taft was a leading supporter of the new state of Israel, called for an end to the arms embargo to the Middle East, and supported arms shipments and other military aid to the new country. [60] According to historian Brian Kennedy:

Taft's actions towards Palestine seemed to violate many of his foremost principles. Despite being one of the foremost isolationists in the nation, Taft proposed the United States serve as the primary arbiter in the Middle East. Although publicly stating that the United States had no right to dictate policy towards Great Britain in regards to India, he consistently sought to influence British policy in Palestine. Meanwhile, even as he criticized the efforts to grant foreign aid to allied nations in Europe, Taft proposed $150 million in aid be given to Israel. Moreover, at a time when he was running against Truman for the presidency, and while he engaged in extremely contentious and partisan political struggles with the President, Taft surprisingly seemed to agree with the President on the issue of Israel. [61]

1950 re-election Edit

In 1950, Taft ran a more effective campaign for re-election to the Senate. Wooing factory workers, he visited 334 industrial plants and gave 873 speeches. [62] He won a third term by 431,184 votes, the second largest victory margin in Ohio Senate election history until then. [63] He benefited from a weak Democratic opponent – one observer reportedly said of "Jumping Joe" Ferguson, the State Auditor, "If the Democrats want to win, they should send Ferguson on a mission abroad" – but more importantly, Ohio's unions failed to effectively use the Taft–Hartley Act, which they denounced as a "slave labor law," against him. Additionally, Democratic Governor Frank Lausche did not endorse Ferguson and, according to journalist Sidney Lubell, almost openly supported Taft. In a post-election survey of voters, Lubell found that the overly aggressive, labor-backed anti-Taft campaign angered some Democrats. Even many union members reportedly voted Republican to express their opposition to local union leaders, to support Taft–Hartley's ban on the closed shop, or to prevent, as one told Lubell, "the Socialists from taking over the Democratic party." [64]

By the start of his third Senate term, Taft had been given the nickname "Mr. Republican." [55] He was the chief congressional ideologue and spokesman for the conservatism of the Republican Party and the acknowledged national leader of its conservative faction. [65]

In a January 6, 1951 speech on the Senate floor, Taft criticized the Truman administration for plans to defend Western Europe with the U.S. Army. Taft said the NATO treaty did not commit the U.S. to send an American Army to Europe and wanted no American troops there at this time, being in favor instead of reliance on long-distance air and sea superiority to deter the Russians. [66] [67] Taft supported Congress reducing the number of American soldiers that could be dispatched to assist with the defenses of Western Europe, [68] and accused the Truman administration of concealing the number of American troops and soldiers from other nations that would be furnished in the International Defense Army from Congress as well as the American people and advocated for the United States to supply a single division for every nine put up by European nations. [69] In January 1953, Taft stated that the Truman administration's handling of foreign policy had left the incoming Eisenhower "with the most dangerous foreign problem this country has ever faced." [70]

In August 1951, after President Truman delivered an address criticizing those "trying to create fear and suspicion among us by the use of slander, unproved accusations, and just plain lies", [71] Taft told a reporter that he considered Truman hysterical and called for him to refer to a specific remark that was both false and alleged of him. [72] That month, Taft announced his support for an Air Force increase but opposition to similar boosts for either the Army or Navy, telling a reporter of his concerns that military leaders would ask Congress for appropriations later in the year and that additional increases for other branches would retain deficits he did not believe the US could stand. [73] In December, Taft delivered an address to the American Medical Association, asserting the federal government as attempting to take over all welfare programs through a scheme and stated that doctors were justified in their opposition as Socialists made moves to enact a federal system of socialized medicine. [74] On January 31, 1953, Taft indicated the Eisenhower administration would allow the death of price controls on April 30 and voiced his opposition to the "legal recognition to the principle of controls". [75]

Distrust by Old Right Edit

While outsiders thought Taft was the epitome of conservative Republicanism, inside the party, he was repeatedly criticized by hardliners alarmed by his sponsorship of New Deal-like programs, especially federal housing for the poor. The real estate lobby was especially fearful about public housing. Senator Kenneth S. Wherry discerned a "touch of socialism" in Taft, and his Ohio colleague, Senator John Bricker, speculated that perhaps the "socialists have gotten to Bob Taft." The distrust on the right hurt Taft's 1948 presidential ambitions. [76]

1940 and 1944 Edit

Taft first sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1940 but lost to Wendell Willkie. Taft was regarded as a strong contender, but his outspoken support of a non-interventionist foreign policy, and his opposition to the New Deal in domestic policy led many liberal Republicans to reject his candidacy. At the 1940 Republican Convention, Willkie, once a Democrat, and a corporate executive who had never run for political office, came from behind to beat Taft and several other candidates for the nomination. That year, Taft first clashed with Thomas E. Dewey, then a New York District Attorney, who had become nationally famous for successfully prosecuting several prominent organized-crime figures, especially New York mob boss "Lucky" Luciano. Taft felt that Dewey was not conservative or consistent enough in his principles for the Republican Party: "Tom Dewey has no real courage to stand up against the crowd that wants to smear any Republican who takes a forthright position against the New Deal . there is only one way to beat the New Deal, and that is head on. You can't outdeal them." [77] In other letters, Taft described Dewey as "very arrogant and bossy" and worried that "advisers will talk Dewey into too much internationalism . he comes from New York and sees the group opinions there as a lot more important than they are." [78]

In the 1944 presidential campaign Taft was not a candidate. He supported Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio, a fellow conservative, for the nomination. However, Bricker was defeated by Dewey, who had become the Governor of New York in 1943. Dewey named Bricker as his running mate the ticket would go on to lose to Roosevelt in the general election.

1948 and 1952 Edit

In 1948, Taft made a second try for the nomination but again was defeated by his archrival, Dewey, who led the GOP's moderate/liberal wing. In the 1948 United States presidential election, Dewey was defeated by the Democratic presidential candidate, Harry S. Truman.

In August 1951, during a news conference, President Truman said Taft was his choice for the Republican nomination in the following year's presidential election, Taft responding by saying that he would let others comment on the remark. [79] In January 1952, Taft stated those seeking the drafting of General Dwight Eisenhower had made the argument he could not win the general election and that he did not understand this perspective as the same argument was being made of Eisenhower's candidacy by his manager David S. Ingalls. [80] On March 20, Taft announced his withdrawal from the New Jersey Republican primary, citing the endorsement of Eisenhower by Governor of New Jersey Alfred Driscoll and insisting the endorsement was part of a move by Driscoll to corrupt the primary's intent. [81]

Taft sought to reach out to southern Democratic voters in his 1952 campaign. It was his third and final try for the nomination it also proved to be his strongest effort. At the Republican State Convention in Little Rock, he declared:

I believe a Republican could carry a number of southern states if he conducts the right kind of campaign. . Whether we win or lose in the South, we cannot afford to ignore public opinion in the southern states, because it influences national public opinion, and that opinion finally decides the election. . It is said that southern Democrats will not vote for a Republican candidate. They have frequently done so. They did so in Little Rock last November [1951] when they elected Pratt Remmel mayor. I refuse to admit that if the issues are clearly presented, the southern voters will not vote on the basis of principle. . [82]

Taft had the solid backing of the party's conservative wing. Former US Representative Howard Buffett of Nebraska (father of billionaire Warren Buffett) served as one of his campaign managers. [83] With Dewey no longer an active candidate, many political pundits regarded Taft as the frontrunner. However, the race changed when Dewey and other moderates were able to convince Dwight D. Eisenhower, the most popular general of World War II, to run for the nomination. Eisenhower ran because of his fear that Taft's non-interventionist views in foreign policy, especially his opposition to NATO, might benefit the Soviet Union in the Cold War. [84]

The fight between Taft and Eisenhower for the nomination was one of the closest and most bitter in American political history. When the Republican Convention opened in Chicago in July 1952, Taft and Eisenhower were neck-and-neck in delegate votes. On the convention's first day, Eisenhower's managers complained that Taft's forces had unfairly denied Eisenhower supporters delegate slots in several Southern states, including Texas, where the state chairman, Orville Bullington, was committed to Taft. The Eisenhower partisans proposed to remove pro-Taft delegates in these states and replace them with pro-Eisenhower delegates they called their proposal "Fair Play." Although Taft angrily denied having stolen any delegate votes, the convention voted to support Fair Play 658 to 548, and the Texans voted 33–5 for Eisenhower as a result. In addition, several uncommitted state delegations, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, agreed to support Eisenhower.

The addition of the uncommitted state delegations, combined with Taft's loss of many Southern delegates by the Fair Play proposal, decided the nomination in Eisenhower's favor. Despite his bitterness at his narrow defeat and his belief that he had been unfairly ambushed by the Eisenhower forces (including Dewey), Taft issued a brief statement after the convention conveying his congratulations and support to Eisenhower. Thereafter, however, he brooded in silence at his summer home in Quebec, complaining, "Every Republican candidate for President since 1936 has been nominated by the Chase National Bank." [85] As the weeks passed, Eisenhower's aides worried that Taft and his supporters would sit on their hands during the campaign and that as a result Eisenhower might lose the election. In September 1952, Taft finally agreed to meet with Eisenhower, at Morningside Heights in New York City. There, to gain Taft's support, Eisenhower promised that he would take no reprisals against Taft partisans, would cut federal spending, and would fight "creeping socialism in every domestic field." In fact, Eisenhower and Taft agreed on most domestic issues their disagreements were primarily in foreign policy.

Eisenhower firmly believed in NATO and was committed to the US support of anticommunism in the Cold War.

Following Eisenhower's election and the Republican takeover of Congress, Taft served as Senate Majority Leader in 1953, and he strongly supported Eisenhower's domestic proposals. He worked hard to assist the inexperienced new officials of the administration. He even tried, with little success, to curb the excesses of red-baiting US Senator Joseph McCarthy. By April, Eisenhower and Taft were friends and golfing companions, and Taft was praising his former adversary. Defeat in 1952, it seemed, had softened Taft. No longer burdened by presidential ambitions, he had become less partisan, less abrasive, and more conciliatory he was now widely regarded as the most powerful man in Congress.

On May 26, 1953, Taft delivered his final speech, in which he presciently warned of the dangers of America's emerging Cold War foreign policy, specifically against US military involvement in Southeast Asia, which would later become the Vietnam War:

I have never felt that we should send American soldiers to the Continent of Asia, which, of course, included China proper and Indo-China, simply because we are so outnumbered in fighting a land war on the Continent of Asia that it would bring about complete exhaustion even if we were able to win. . So today, as since 1947 in Europe and 1950 in Asia, we are really trying to arm the world against Communist Russia, or at least furnish all the assistance which can be of use to them in opposing Communism. Is this policy of uniting the free world against Communism in time of peace going to be a practical long-term policy? I have always been a skeptic on the subject of the military practicability of NATO. . I have always felt that we should not attempt to fight Russia on the ground on the Continent of Europe any more than we should attempt to fight China on the Continent of Asia. [86]

In early 1953, Taft began to feel pain in his hips, and after a painful golf outing with President Eisenhower in April 1953 he entered Walter Reed Hospital for initial tests which led physicians to suspect a tumor or arthritis. [87] On May 26 he entered Holmes Hospital in Cincinnati for more extensive tests. [88] The physicians there discovered nodules on his forehead and abdomen, and after doing biopsies of samples of the nodules, found that they were malignant. [89] On June 7, he entered New York Hospital for more tests and treatment to keep the news that he might have cancer a secret he registered under the assumed name "Howard Roberts, Jr.". [90] While it was agreed that Taft in fact had cancer, the physicians treating him were not in agreement on how to treat him, especially considering that none of them were aware where the primary tumor was (a postmortem examination discovered the tumor originated in the senator’s pancreas). Some thought that surgery to remove the tumors would be the best option for Taft, while others felt the cancer had spread too far and thus palliative care, specifically X-ray therapy, was preferable. [91] [92] On June 10, 1953, Taft held a press conference in which he announced his illness and transferred his duties as Senate Majority Leader to Senator William F. Knowland of California. He did not resign his Senate seat and told reporters that he expected to recover and return to work. [91]

However, Taft’s condition continued to deteriorate and with the Senate in recess, he returned to New York Hospital for surgery on July 4. The surgery "did not take long, for the doctors discovered cancer everywhere . there was no longer any doubt" that his condition was terminal. [93] On July 31, Taft’s wife paid him a visit in his hospital room. Several hours after she left, Taft suffered a brain hemorrhage and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. [92] [94] His body lay in state at the United States Capitol rotunda, [95] where thousands of mourners offered their respects at his coffin. [96] On August 3, 1953, a memorial service was held in the rotunda in addition to his family the service was attended by Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, the cabinet, members of the Supreme Court, and Taft's congressional colleagues. Following the service his body was flown to Cincinnati, where he was buried in a private ceremony at Indian Hill Episcopal Church Cemetery. [96]

In 1957, a committee led by Senator John F. Kennedy selected Taft as one of five great senators whose portraits would adorn the President's Room off the Senate floor. Kennedy would feature him in Profiles in Courage, and Taft continues to be regarded by historians as one of the most powerful senators of the 20th century. [97]

Memorial Edit

The Robert A. Taft Memorial, featuring a 10-foot (3.0 m) statue by the sculptor Wheeler Williams and a bell tower, is located north of the Capitol on Constitution Avenue. The inscription on the tower face behind him reads:

This Memorial to Robert A. Taft, presented by the people to the Congress of the United States, stands as a tribute to the honesty, indomitable courage, and high principles of free government symbolized by his life. [98]

It’s America’s Bluest House Seat. How Is This Man a Top Contender?

The Rev. Rubén Díaz Sr. opposes abortion, has made homophobic statements and may vote for President Trump. And he’s a Democrat. In the Bronx.

The single most Democratic congressional district in America could next be held by a Democrat who opposes abortion rights, has a history of endorsing Republicans and making homophobic remarks and ­is still considering voting for President Trump in November.

Welcome to the South Bronx, the domain for decades of the Rev. Rubén Díaz Sr.

Just a year ago, Mr. Díaz, a cowboy-hat-wearing Pentecostal minister and New York City councilman, was ignoring calls to resign his seat after saying the Council chamber was “controlled by the homosexual community.”

Now the former state legislator is seen as the front-runner in the 12-person contest, with Mr. Diaz’s recognition in the community delivering an advantage in a race where progressive alternatives are fracturing the vote.

His prospects in the June 23 primary have put Democratic officials on edge. If Mr. Díaz were to win, he would create a headache for the party and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, handing an otherwise reliable Democratic seat to an apostate who would gleefully buck party leadership.

“Anyone nationally who is paying attention understands it would be an absolute embarrassment to the Bronx,” said Assemblyman Michael Blake, one of the other Democratic candidates and a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Ritchie Torres, a city councilman and another leading Democratic candidate, said it would be a “cruel irony” if a “Trump Republican” took over a district that delivered the highest share of the vote to Hillary Clinton (93.7 percent) in America.

“An insult,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former speaker of the City Council and another candidate. “He defies everything I believe in.”

Yet Mr. Díaz is well known in the community, after his two decades in the City Council and State Senate. Even his fiercest critics acknowledged his knack for keeping his name front-and-center. (Witness the Rubén Díaz Apartments and Rubén Díaz Plaza.)

Mr. Torres called Mr. Díaz “by default the front-runner.”

“He has an irreducible base of evangelical support which could serve him well in a crowded, cluttered, chaotic race,” he said.

Mr. Díaz may have another advantage: His son, Rubén Díaz Jr., is the widely popular Bronx borough president, a politician more aligned with the Democratic mainstream.

The younger Mr. Díaz has not endorsed his father, but the family connection may still help: Voters will only see the name “Rubén Díaz” on the ballot — no senior or junior moniker — leading to potential confusion.

Mr. Díaz did not respond to requests for an interview. He only sent a text message linking to a post from a Twitter account of a self-identified college student, with four followers, that cited a supposed poll showing him leading. (An actual poll circulated by the progressive group Data for Progress does show Mr. Díaz with a narrow lead, trailed most closely by Mr. Torres.)

The political crosscurrents at play in the race are far more complex, intense and intriguing than just whether Mr. Díaz will win and succeed Representative Jose E. Serrano, the nation’s longest-tenured Hispanic congressman, who is stepping down. In an overwhelmingly Democratic seat, victory in the primary is tantamount to being sworn into Congress.

The 15th Congressional District is roughly two-thirds Hispanic with a sizable African-American population, and race is an undercurrent of the primary. None of the 12 candidates are white.

The contest features a collision of two ambitious politicians labeled for years as rising stars in New York: Mr. Torres, a 32-year-old who became the first openly gay elected official in the Bronx and the youngest member of the City Council in 2014, and Mr. Blake, 37, a veteran of the Obama administration.

The political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is backing Mr. Torres, who is both black and Puerto Rican, while the Congressional Black Caucus is behind Mr. Blake.

“On a daily basis, I am being told a black person shouldn’t be running here,” said Mr. Blake, who also has the backing of Tom Perez, the first Latino D.N.C. chairman, who offered a rare personal endorsement.

The primary was the first contested New York congressional race in which Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made an endorsement: She is supporting Samelys López, an insurgent candidate with the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party.

The district, which neighbors Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s seat, will be a test both of how wide her sphere of influence is and how her brand of far-left progressivism plays in an area that ranks as among the poorest and the least white in the country. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez declined an interview request.

“If you go to a black church in the South Bronx, you are unlikely to come across an assemblage of Democratic Socialist revolutionaries,” said Mr. Torres, who labels himself a pragmatic progressive. “It’s a fact that the D.S.A. has the most robust membership in wealthier, whiter gentrified neighborhoods.”

Ms. López cast herself as a “grass-roots progressive offering a radical transformative vision.” With the Bronx ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, all the candidates have been forced to mostly campaign from home, which, for Ms. López, is across the street from the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center. “All I hear is sirens all day,” she said.

In backing Ms. López, the left-wing groups and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez bypassed Ms. Mark-Viverito, a progressive who supports “Medicare for All,” wants to decriminalize crossing the border and once toppled the party boss system to become the first Latino speaker in New York City Council history.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Ms. Mark-Viverito, 51, said, noting that she had recently learned the term “cancel culture” on the left.

“If you are not 100 percent in agreement on every item, you’re just written off,” she said.

With nearly $925,000 in the bank entering April, Mr. Torres had far more cash on hand than any other candidate, with Mr. Díaz a distant second with $125,000. No other candidate had more than $80,000.

Mr. Torres cast the race as a two-person contest between him and Mr. Díaz, adding that “candidates with no real path are aiding and abetting the campaign of Rubén Díaz Sr.”

“If you have less money and less name ID than Rubén Díaz, your whole campaign is predicated on magical thinking,” Mr. Torres added.

Mr. Díaz’s campaign spending patterns seem unusual. For one, he has not listed a single full-time employee on his campaign payroll. For another, more than one-third of all itemized contributions — donations above $200 — came from fellow pastors and ministers.

Through March, the biggest share of his spending went to more than $22,000 in “constituent gifts:” baseball league trophies, back-to-school haircuts, Christmas toys and gift cards to the Western Beef grocery store.

Those kinds of constituent activities have helped Mr. Díaz weather a series of controversies and unusual stances for a Democrat.

He has said that black and brown communities are “plagued” by abortion clinics. In 1994, he said organizers of the Gay Games were “guilty of promoting sin” he has endorsed Republicans, including Hillary Clinton’s Senate opponent in 2000.

He organized an anti-gay marriage rally in 2011 (and his granddaughter held a counter protest across the street) he praised Mr. Trump shortly before the 2018 midterms and he recently told The New York Post he was undecided about his 2020 vote and last year he reportedly said he would not “rat” out colleagues for sexual harassment.

Mr. Díaz, whose persona is tailor-made to be amplified by conservative media, said last year that his opposition to gay marriage and abortion are rooted in his religion, not prejudice: “I don’t believe in gay marriage, but that doesn’t mean I hate people.”

Alphonso David, the head of the Human Rights Campaign, a leading national gay-rights group, said the organization was preparing to spend money to oppose Mr. Díaz and elect Mr. Torres, who would be the first openly gay black or Latino member of Congress.

Another super PAC, Bronx United, has sprung up with the explicit mandate to beat Mr. Díaz — without supporting a particular alternative. Eric Koch, a group spokesman, said Mr. Díaz would be a “destructive voice and major distraction” in Congress who “would routinely oppose key pieces of the Democratic agenda.”

Several of the candidates — Mr. Blake, Ms. Mark-Viverito and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez — already ran against each other last year for New York City public advocate in a test of their relative strength.

While Mr. Rodriguez finished far behind citywide, he actually was the top vote-getter of the three in the 15th district, carrying 26 percent to 23.5 percent for Mr. Blake and 19.6 percent for Ms. Mark-Viverito, according to an analysis by Steven Romalewski, a researcher at the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

But Mr. Rodriguez’s campaign only had $8,000 in the bank at the start of April. Other candidates include Chivona Newsome, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York Tomas Ramos, a community center program director and Frangell Basora, a former intern for Mr. Serrano.

Amanda Farias, who lost a 2017 race for City Council to Mr. Díaz in a multicandidate race and is running again in 2021, is worried history could repeat itself.

“With the amount of people in this race,” she said, “My biggest concern is 2017 being replicated in 2020.”

First openly gay Afro-Latino U.S. congressman: 'Never in my wildest dreams'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Growing up in the Bronx poor, Afro-Latino and gay, Ritchie Torres said he never imagined that he would one day be elected to the United States House of Representatives.

But in a few weeks, Torres, 32, a Democrat from New York, will become the first Afro-Latino openly-gay congressman.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that as a poor kid from the Bronx, I would become a United States congressman," Torres told Reuters the day before heading to the nation's capital for Congress's new member orientation.

Torres makes history along with fellow Democrat and New Yorker Mondaire Jones, who will be the first openly-gay African-American congressman.

Torres, who is both Black and Puerto Rican, grew up with a single mother in New York City's public housing. Now he is headed to Washington, DC.

His goal as congressman will be to secure funding for affordable housing, he said.

He aims to fight for passage of the Equality Act, which proponents say is written to ensure that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in their daily lives.

"LGBTQ people of color are about to have a seat in one of the most powerful tables," Torres said. He added, "A wise person once said, 'If you don't have a seat at the table, then you're probably on the menu'."

Voters on Election Day also backed Sarah McBride in her race to join the Delaware State Senate, making her the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the United States.

"We're witnessing the collapse of politics as an old boys club, and we're witnessing the embrace of America as a multiracial, multiethnic, inclusive democracy," said Torres.

While Torres is keenly aware that his identity is an inspiration to many, he said he is focused on the job ahead.

"I hope to be an inspirational example of what is possible in America. But in the end, I'm going to be judged not by who I am but by what I accomplish. So my identity matters in the short run, but in the long run, what matters is the record that I build in Congress."

Former Rep. Ed Pastor, Arizona’s first Hispanic member of Congress, dead at 75

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, Arizona's first Hispanic member of Congress, has died. He was 75. Arizona Republic

Retired U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., donated $1 million of his leftover campaign funds to set up a new Center for Politics and Public Service at Arizona State University. (Photo: The Republic)

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, Arizona’s first Hispanic member of Congress whose low-key style obscured his behind-the-scenes effectiveness in directing federal money to local projects, has died. He was 75.

Pastor suffered a heart attack overnight, according to multiple family friends on Wednesday. The Phoenix resident is remembered as a hardworking lawmaker who fought to bring federal resources to his constituents and was respected on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.

He leaves behind his wife, Verma Pastor, two daughters, Yvonne and Laura — a Phoenix City Council member — and four grandchildren.

"The Congressman’s wife of 53 years, Verma, would like to thank the first responders from Phoenix Fire Station 9 and the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center for the care they provided Ed in the final moments of his life," Laura Pastor said in a written statement. "At this time, the Pastor family asks for privacy as they mourn the loss of their husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle and leader."

The Democratic congressman did not seek re-election in 2014 after serving 23 years in Washington. At the time, he was the most senior member of Arizona’s House delegation and served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

"He didn't care if you were a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, rich or poor. If he could help you, he did," Lopez said. "He was a great statesman, a great Arizonan and a great treasure. He personified the best it was to be a Mexican-American."

Rep.-elect Greg Stanton, another Arizona Democrat and a former Phoenix mayor, remembered Pastor as a crucial advocate for Phoenix in Washington.

"His impact on Arizonans was as big as any other elected official that we’ve had in the history of Arizona," Stanton said. "He was responsible for light rail. Without Ed Pastor, there’s no light rail. Some of the improvements at Sky Harbor (airport), all of the work Phoenix did with Rio Salado, … all of that work was done because of Ed Pastor."

Matt Salmon, a former Republican member of Congress who served alongside Pastor, said Pastor's willingness to fight for federal money meant more in Arizona than it might have in other places.

"He was the go-to guy on basically everything because our two senators would never ever fight for earmarks," Salmon said. "So Ed was the go-to guy whenever there was any kind of major Arizona project."


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"He was the consummate fighter for Arizona. If it wasn't for him, light rail would have never happened. It would have never happened. Ed went to the mat. Before any ground was broken, Ed secured all the seed money. It was over $100 million.

"He was not just a friend, he was a dear friend. I loved Ed very, very much. He was the kind of guy that made you feel like family," Salmon said.

"In fact, I caught a lot of heat when I ran for Congress again (in 2012) because I had actually made a financial contribution to his campaign. I got attacked in the primary because I had given him money."

A former longtime member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Pastor was sworn into Congress on Oct. 3, 1991. He had won a Sept. 24, 1991, special election for the seat that had been vacated by Rep. Morris Udall, D-Arizona, who stepped down because of declining health.

In 2014, Pastor told The Republic of several key Arizona projects that he played an instrumental role in funding. He also said he is proud of the work he has done to help people become citizens and to stop deportations, as well as other constituent-services work.

“I don’t know if there’s one great accomplishment. I don’t know if one is greater than another,” Pastor told The Republic. “But the reputation I am leaving with, I think, is when people needed something, they called on me, and the probability was that we were able to help them.”

Unlike some Arizona Republicans he served in Congress with, Pastor never hesitated to use his position to secure funding for local priorities, such as Maricopa County’s light-rail system and improvements at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

"As long as there were earmarks, he was going to fight to get Arizona's share," Lopez said.

Stanton noted Pastor’s understated style: “It’s up to others to tout his successes because he would never tout them himself.”

Pastor mentored Stanton and other younger people who entered the political field. Stanton recalled Pastor’s endorsements and advice over the course of his career as a city councilman, mayor and now, soon-to-be-member of Congress.

“He had the greatest sense of humor,” he recalled. “. He loved to take people down a few notches in a very loving way. He had such a gentle touch."

Lopez and Salmon said Pastor's humor and humility stood out.

“The people that knew him knew that the congressman was not a show horse. He was a work horse. He didn’t demand the center stage,” Lopez said.

“In Spanish we have a saying, … Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are. I’m honored to have walked in his shadow and really proud to have called him my friend.”

'We can’t be what we can’t see': Latinas running for Congressional seats talk representation in leadership

“These days for many voters, just seeing an ‘R’ or ‘D’ next to a name, that's enough," said Gary Jacobson, political science professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego.

Trump carried Peterson’s district by 31 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, his biggest margin in any of the 29 House seats Democrats hold.

Over 90% of House incumbents are usually reelected, thanks to name recognition and campaign fundraising advantages. But they're not immune to defeat. In the 2018 Democratic wave, 30 representatives seeking reelection — all Republicans — were defeated, including seven who'd served at least a decade. One, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., was in the House for 30 years.

This year, around a dozen representatives who've served at least five two-year terms have potentially competitive contests. Most are Republicans, whose numbers in this category would be higher if eight others who faced difficult races in states including Georgia, North Carolina and Texas had sought reelection rather than retiring.

Rep. Don Young of Alaska, 87, first elected in a 1973 special election and the longest serving Republican in House history, is favored but faces a well-financed opponent. Other GOP representatives eyeing tough races include David Schweikert of Arizona, reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee for campaign finance violations Mike McCaul, whose Texas district includes suburbs of Houston and Austin and Jaime Herrera Beutler of southwest Washington state.

Other close races for long-serving Republicans may loom in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Texas.

Among Democrats, Reps. Ron Kind, a 12-term Wisconsin veteran, and Peter DeFazio, who's served 17 terms from Oregon, are seeking reelection in closely divided districts but seem likely to win.

In a western Minnesota district stretching from the Canadian border to the Minneapolis exurbs, Peterson faces former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, one of his most serious GOP challengers yet.

“Collin has been there a very long time," the Trump-endorsed Fischbach, 54, said in an interview. To paint him as out of touch with voters, she's employing the widely used GOP playbook of linking him to liberals like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and to violence that's marred some of the nation's racial justice protests, including in Minneapolis.

“Do you stand with Nancy Pelosi and the liberal mob?" says the announcer in Fischbach's first TV spot amid pictures of buildings aflame.

Peterson emphasizes his deep local ties and chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee, pivotal for his farming district. “I take care of my people," he said in an interview.

Peterson, one of the most conservative House Democrats, opposed Trump's impeachment and backs gun rights. He says he expects to win again and says Trump's support in the area has fallen, citing his tariffs on farm products and steel. But Peterson won by just four points in 2018 and says his own party label could hurt him.

“These people who've been elected in our party have made it hard to be a Democrat," he said. “Some of these so-called progressives that have been elected and their Green New Deal and all this other stuff, that's a problem."

In Ohio, the 12-term Chabot represents a Cincinnati-area district that includes strongly Republican Warren County, home to suburban voters whom Democratic rival Kate Schroder hopes to woo. Chabot, touting his conservative voting record, carried his district by 16 points in 2016 but just 4 points in 2018.

“There are people who traditionally voted Republican who don't identify with the current Republican Party," Schroder, 43, a businesswoman and local public health official, said in an interview. “They don't want a bully in the White House."

Schroder says Chabot, 67, has achieved little. An ad released Wednesday by the House Majority PAC, aligned with the chamber's Democratic leaders, says, “Congressman, it's time to come home."

In a campaign dominated by mutual allegations of ethical lapses, the tag lines on Chabot's TV spots is: “Bad judgment. Big risk." Chabot aides didn't make the lawmaker available for an interview for this article.

Democratic and Republican campaign committees and other organizations allied with party leadership are aiming the bulk of their spending at each others' softest seats and defending vulnerable incumbents.

Underscoring how this can mean targeting long-term lawmakers, through last week the National Republican Congressional Committee — the House GOP's campaign arm — had reserved $2.7 million in advertising against Peterson, according to the ad tracking company Kantar/CMAG. The Congressional Leadership Fund, aligned with House GOP leadership, planned to spend $3.3 million more, which Republicans said could grow.

Democrats' House Majority PAC had reserved $3 million to help Peterson.

Former Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who lost a 2016 bid for a 13th term, said in an interview that incumbency “isn't the asset it used to be” because “once you're elected, you're identified today as part of the problem" by some voters. He warned long-serving lawmakers to be vigilant.

“Don't get outspent, don't get outgunned and just keep working until the last vote is counted," he said. Acknowledging this year's expected flood of mail-in ballots could delay final election results, he added, “And that may be a long time."

Gus Garcia, Austin's first elected Hispanic mayor, dies at 84

Gus Garcia, an always straight-talking founding father of Mexican-American politics in Austin and the city’s first elected Hispanic mayor, died early Monday morning at his Northeast Austin home, his family said.

Garcia, whose 40 years of civic and political ground breaking included being the first Hispanic member of the Austin Independent School District board and its first Hispanic board president, was 84.

Born in the border town of Zapata in 1934, Garcia served on the Austin City Council for more than 10 years and on the Austin school board for six years. His position as a school district trustee meant he also had a spot on Austin Community College’s first board when the district created the college in the 1970s. Garcia is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marina, three sons and five grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

“Gus was a first many times,” said state Sen. Kirk Watson, whose mayoral job Garcia won in a November 2001 special election, called after Watson stepped down to seek statewide office. “The word ‘historical’ gets thrown around too much, but it shouldn’t lose its meaning when you talk about someone who purposely was willing to put himself on the line over and over to show how things could be and should be done in Austin.

“He was in essence a loving and happy person. And those qualities translated into the way he led.”

In photos: Gus Garcia's legacy in Austin.

Upon learning of Garcia's death, Austin Mayor Steve Adler posted on Twitter: "We feel a community-wide heavy heart as one of our greatest Austin giants moves on. … I will miss my friend and teacher."

To Paul Salda༚, a former Austin school district board member who served as Garcia’s council aide and mayoral chief of staff for about 10 years, Garcia was a father figure, a mentor and a demanding boss.

“If you were five minutes late to a 7:30 a.m. staff meeting, you would get a lecture,” said Salda༚, who is proud that he was sworn in to the school board by Garcia in 2014. “If he was in a good mood, you would get a lecture and a joke.”

Garcia, Salda༚ and others said, was energized first to last by a drive for equal economic and educational opportunity for Hispanics and others disadvantaged by their beginnings, race or ethnicity.

“The minute the topic of education of low-income people came up, you could see he would sit up straight and have this passion and commitment to talk about it,” Salda༚ said. “He saw himself in the young people who were struggling at home.”

Garcia’s own beginnings were humble as he grew up in a family he later described as �stitute.” Garcia’s family lived in tiny Zapata — where his father was a storekeeper — until he was 10. The Garcias then moved upriver to Laredo, where Gus quickly found that his early education at an unaccredited Zapata school had not prepared him for academic challenges. (Garcia would say in a 2012 oral history that he basically didn’t know English as he entered the seventh grade and that his slow start toward literacy dogged him for years.)

After an Army enlistment qualified him for the GI Bill, though, Garcia went on to graduate from the University of Texas in 1959 with an accounting degree. He became a certified public accountant in 1962 and after several years with a national firm, opened his own accounting shop in 1965.

In Austin, Garcia and his wife, raised in border communities that were 99 percent Hispanic, experienced open racial discrimination for the first time. They had trouble renting and, later, buying a home in certain parts of town a landlord once hung up on Marina Garcia after hearing her surname, and real estate agents directed them to houses east of Interstate 35 or south of Ben White Boulevard. And Garcia was able to begin his accounting career only after one of his professors intervened with a potential employer. Even then, he said later, some clients balked at having their books kept by a person who was not white.

The Garcias bought a home in University Hills and later moved to their Coronado Hills home, near Reagan High Schol, where he died, surrounded by his family. That house is just a few miles south of the Gustavo L. “Gus” Garcia District Park and Recreation Center, which had its grand opening in April 2008.

�idental entry’ into politics

His early experiences in Austin led Garcia to what he would call his �idental entry” into politics. When the Austin City Council in 1964 put together its first Human Relations Commission (later renamed the Human Rights Commission), the 21 initial appointments included just one Hispanic. Garcia was among a large group that came to a 1967 City Hall meeting to address that slight. When Council Member Dick Nichols waded through the crowd to pick four more Hispanic commission members, the young accountant was the last one chosen.

In January 1972, Garcia was little known in political circles when he filed for the school board’s Place 7 seat. Richard Moya had already broken through the local political barrier faced by Hispanics, getting elected in 1970 to serve as Travis County commissioner for Precinct 4, the county’s heavily Hispanic southeast quadrant. But school board seats were elected at large at the time, meaning that Garcia had to garner a majority of votes from across Austin.

Garcia prevailed over an incumbent to win a six-year term. The political pioneering by Garcia and Moya would be followed in 1974 by Gonzalo Barrientos’ election to an Austin-based seat in the Texas House, and in 1975, John Treviño became the first Hispanic member of the Austin City Council. In the wake of their political successes, the four men jokingly referred to themselves as the 𠇋rown machine.”

A timeline of the significant political and civic moments in Gus Garcia's life.

On the board, Garcia was a courtly but bracingly direct voice for integration in a school district struggling with historically segregated schools and operating under a busing order handed down by a federal court. He pushed for more Hispanics as teachers and administrators, and lobbied to bust up a purchasing system that awarded school district contracts overwhelmingly to white contractors.

In 1977, Garcia’s fellow trustees named him board president, another first, and he began to speak regularly of the need for more Hispanic leaders in Austin, both in politics and in business. Education, he said, was the key to building a pipeline of such future leaders. In 1978, he declined to run for a second term on the board.

The school district in 2007 named a Northeast Austin middle school in his honor, then in 2014 converted it to an all-male campus now called the Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy. The sixth to eighth graders there are issued purple-and-white ties in a ceremony at the beginning of the school year, an accessory they must wear to class, and take a pledge that includes becoming a “Gus Garcia Man.” That man was known for showing up from time to time.

“I go there and kids just love to talk to me because they thought I was dead,” he told the Statesman in 2015. “The kids are mostly at-risk. That’s what I wanted. If they were going to name a school for me I wanted it to be one with students that had challenges similar to me.”

On Monday afternoon, Austin school district Superintendent Paul Cruz joined Sterlin McGruder, principal of Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy, to remember the school's namesake and the impact he had on its students.

"He set expectations of what this school was going to be, what the school was going to represent," said a tearful Cruz, who referred to Garcia as "alcalde," the Spanish word for mayor. "We work hard every day — Mr. McGruder, the teachers, the students, the staff — work hard every day to realize that vision and realize those expectations of excellence."

Garcia stepped away from politics in the 1980s to run his accounting business. He was drawn back into that world late that decade by a split in the Hispanic community regarding Robert Barnstone, who occupied the City Council Place 5 seat informally reserved for Hispanic candidates under an unwritten “gentlemen’s agreement” that dated to the early 1970s. Barnstone, who also was from Laredo, had a white father and a Hispanic mother.

In 1991, Garcia ran against Gilbert Martinez and five other candidates (four of them Hispanic) — Barnstone, meanwhile, lost his bid for mayor — and eventually won the Place 5 seat in a runoff, receiving 51 percent of the vote. Dissolving his business to focus full-time on council duties, Garcia worked to expand facilities for East Austin, especially parks and recreation centers.

He also found himself in the middle of the environmental disputes that were dominating city politics at the time, casting a key swing vote in 1994 to appeal a lower court decision overturning the Save Our Springs water quality ordinance. The Texas Supreme Court later upheld the city’s law.

A precedent-setting campaign

Running in the 1997 City Council election, Garcia sought to break the confines of the gentleman’s agreement that alloted only one seat to a Hispanic, campaigning for the Place 2 seat and hoping that another Hispanic would win his old seat. Garcia won. But in Place 5, Bill Spelman, who was white, defeated Manuel Zuniga in a runoff.

“I think there ought to be a protected seat for the Hispanics,” Garcia told the American-Statesman in 1997, but he said he didn’t want that sort of protection any longer. “I don’t want to run with an advantage. If they elect me, I want them to elect me for who I am.”

The current 11-member council, revamped under an amendment to the City Charter in 2014 to elect members by geographic districts rather than city-wide as with the old seven-member body, has three Hispanic members.

Former City Council Member Daryl Slusher, who served with Garcia for several years, was his colleague was 𠇊 master of the intangibles” who also brought “huge credibility” to discussions. As someone who could use his incisive accountant’s mind and sometimes salty wit to form coalitions and chip away at the city’s challenges, Garcia became 𠇊 major figure in Austin history,” Slusher said.

Longtime Austin political consultant David Butts, who assisted Garcia in his campaigns, remembered him Monday as a "true gentleman."

"He got the big picture and, unlike a lot of politicans, he didn't see it as one group pitted against another. … He could see that a discrimination against one person was a discrimination against everyone," Butts said.

After six years, Garcia had become a droll, senior presence on the City Council. Watson said that as he considered running for mayor in 1997, it was important to him that Garcia come along for another three-year term. The two men had a two-hour breakfast at El Sol y La Luna on South Congress in 1996, before Watson announced his candidacy.

“I told him that if I was going to do this, he was someone I wanted to be there,” Watson remembered. “He gave me his analysis of the politics, of the needs of our city and, maybe most importantly, his embrace of the people he would want me to serve. It was moving.

A little more than four years later, Garcia moved into the mayor’s office in the old City Hall on West Eighth Street, and he retained the position until June 2003, when he retired from politics. Except, Salda༚ said, Garcia wasn’t interested in the large ceremonial office that the mayors had traditionally occupied. Salda༚ and several other aides were told by Garcia that they should occupy the high-ceilinged room.

“I don’t need all that space,” Saldana recalled Garcia saying.

Austin’s new mayor instead set up shop down a narrow passage in a tiny office, a place where mayoral assistants formerly toiled.

Current Austin City Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria, who grew up in East Austin, said that Garcia in his early days as a politician had to fight perceptions of being something of an outsider.

“He wasn’t from the neighborhood he came in to go to the University of Texas,” Renteria said. 𠇋ut he had the heart that when people saw him, they knew he was sincere. And that’s what made him so great. He had the vision. He knew, this is where we should be heading.”

American-Statesman reporters Katie Hall and Elizabeth Findell contributed to this story.

Muslim American Lawmakers Mark Historic Firsts Across Several States

Five Democratic politicians made history last night by becoming the first Muslim legislators in their respective states.

Three Muslim women won seats in state legislatures on Tuesday. Mauree Turner, who won her race for state House in Oklahoma, will be the first Muslim lawmaker elected to the state’s legislature. In Delaware, Madinah Wilson-Anton became the first Muslim elected to the legislature. Iman Jodeh, who won election to the Colorado House of Representatives, will be the first Muslim lawmaker in the state’s history.

In Wisconsin, Samba Baldeh became the first Muslim elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, as well as the first Black man to represent Dane County in the legislature. Across the country in Florida, Christopher Benjamin became the first Muslim American elected to any state office in the Sunshine State, representing the 107th District in the House of Representatives.

Their historic wins are notable for Democrats, who are closely watching presidential nominee Joe Biden as he stakes out an advantage as counting continued in several too-close-to-call states. Biden, who has been endorsed by several Muslim American officials and organizations, has previously vowed to include Muslim Americans in his administration and repeal Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

“They are part of a new generation of American Muslim leaders who are changing our community’s civic engagement through effective relational organizing,” said Mohammed Missouri, the executive director of the Justice Education Technology Political Advocacy Center (also known as Jetpac ), a political engagement group that trains American Muslims who want to run for public office.

“Muslim women activists, campaign strategists, and politicians are building diverse coalitions to fight for justice in our health care, criminal law, immigration policies, and every other issue impacting American life,” he said. “This work is a critical part of defeating the violent rise of Islamophobia here and around the world.”

Baldeh, a 48-year old Muslim who immigrated from the Gambia to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2000, joined local politics as an unlikely candidate. On Wednesday, he successfully defeated his opponents in the race for state Assembly to represent the 48th District.

“Being the first Muslim to ever be elected at the state Assembly is really exciting, but also an opportunity that I am thankful for,” Baldeh told HuffPost. “I am looking forward to the challenges, but obviously I’m very excited about the opportunity to serve District 48, but also to represent, not only my constituents but my Muslims, Africans, and constituents of color.”

A member of the Madison city council since 2015, Baldeh said he was frustrated by the uptick of Black deaths at the hands of law enforcement and the vilification of Muslims by various political figures which motivated him to run.

“I hope [my win] is also an inspiration to particularly kids of color and Muslims [to show them], ‘Look, we can do this. This is all our country and we should see it as such, and behave as such, and participate as such,’” Baldeh said.

In Delaware, Wilson-Anton first made waves back in September, when she defeated 11-term incumbent John Viola by just 43 votes in the Democratic primary. Last night, she secured her win after defeating her Republican opponent for the District 26 state House race.

Wilson-Anton said she hopes her win will further shatter stereotypes about Muslims and Muslim women being oppressed or timid. She said her win sends a message “to our community that we are a part of this country, no matter if you’re a first-generation or if you’re a descendant of enslaved Africans. We’re all part of this country.”

But more important, Wilson-Anton, who is part a new class of progressives in Delaware, said she’s ready for more widespread representation moving forward.

“Hopefully, we can stop with all the first and have a really diverse government at all levels across the country,” she said.

Benjamin, the lawyer who won his election to Florida’s House outright during the August primary, said he has been looking forward to this day for months.

“This election has been a great journey. I’ve been preparing for this type of office since I was an undergrad at Florida Memorial University, a private historically Black university, where I majored in political science. This is a great completion of that cycle, and to make history on top of it, is almost overwhelming,” he said.

The South Florida native added that he plans to be an outspoken voice at a state level when relates to Muslim issues and plans to begin tackling criminal justice reform and expanding Medicaid for his constituents once in office.

Nationally, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, both won their reelections on Wednesdays for a second term in the U.S. House.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article states that Reps. Omar and Tlaib were the first Muslim members of Congress. They are the first Muslim women elected to Congress the first two Muslim members of Congress were former Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.).

Ritchie Torres Never Dreamed He'd Be First Black Latino Gay Man Elected To Congress

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Growing up in the Bronx poor, Afro-Latino and gay, Ritchie Torres said he never imagined that he would one day be elected to the United States House of Representatives.

But in a few weeks, Torres, 32, a Democrat from New York, will become the first Afro-Latino openly gay congressman.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that as a poor kid from the Bronx, I would become a United States congressman,” Torres told Reuters the day before heading to the nation’s capital for Congress’s new member orientation.

Torres makes history along with fellow Democrat and New Yorker Mondaire Jones, who will be the first openly-gay African-American congressman.

Torres, who is both Black and Puerto Rican, grew up with a single mother in New York City’s public housing. Now he is headed to Washington, DC.

His goal as congressman will be to secure funding for affordable housing, he said.

He aims to fight for passage of the Equality Act, which proponents say is written to ensure that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in their daily lives.

“LGBTQ people of color are about to have a seat in one of the most powerful tables,” Torres said. He added, “A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you’re probably on the menu.’”

Voters on Election Day also backed Sarah McBride in her race to join the Delaware State Senate, making her the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the United States.

“We’re witnessing the collapse of politics as an old boys’ club, and we’re witnessing the embrace of America as a multiracial, multiethnic, inclusive democracy,” said Torres.

While Torres is keenly aware that his identity is an inspiration to many, he said he is focused on the job ahead.

“I hope to be an inspirational example of what is possible in America. But in the end, I’m going to be judged not by who I am but by what I accomplish. So my identity matters in the short run, but in the long run, what matters is the record that I build in Congress.”

Watch the video: Why did Spain Decline? Short Animated Documentary (July 2022).


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