John Melcher

John David Melcher (September 6, 1924 – April 12, 2018) was an American politician of the Democratic Party who represented Montana as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and as a United States Senator from 1977 until 1989.

John Melcher
John Melcher
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1989
Preceded by Mike Mansfield
Succeeded by Conrad Burns
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 2nd district
In office
June 24, 1969 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by James Battin
Succeeded by Ron Marlenee
Personal details
Born John David Melcher
September 6, 1924
Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.
Died April 12, 2018 (aged 93)
Missoula, Montana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Iowa State University (BS, DVM)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1943–1945
Unit 76th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Invasion of Normandy
Awards Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Combat Infantry Badge

Early life

Melcher was born in Sioux City, Iowa; his paternal grandparents were from Germany.[1] He attended the University of Minnesota before joining the military. He served in the United States Army during World War II, and participated in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy with the 76th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II.[2] He was wounded in action in Germany and awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Bronze Star.[3]

Melcher married Ruth Klein in 1945. They had six children.[3]

He graduated from Iowa State University in 1950. Later he moved to Forsyth, Montana, and established a veterinary clinic.[3]

Political career

Melcher served on the Forsyth City Council. He then served as mayor of Forsyth in 1955, for three terms. In 1960, he was elected to the Montana House of Representatives for Rosebud County.[3]

In 1962 he was elected to the Montana Senate. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives by special election on June 24, 1969, to fill a vacancy created when the incumbent, Republican James F. Battin, resigned to accept an appointment to the Federal bench. Melcher was re-elected to the three succeeding Congresses and served from June 24, 1969, to January 3, 1977.[4]

In 1976, he was elected to the United States Senate to succeed retiring Democratic Senator Mike Mansfield.

Melcher was re-elected in 1982 against Republican Larry R. Williams. Melcher had been targeted by National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) as potentially vulnerable, and he was subjected to attack ads depicting him as "too liberal for Montana". Melcher's response became a classic of campaign advertising, featuring a shot of an "out-of-stater" carrying a briefcase full of money, followed by a conversation among several cows deploring their intervention in the race.[5][6]

His campaign for re-election in 1988 was unsuccessful; he was defeated by Republican Conrad Burns.[4] Melcher attributed the loss to a lack of time spent campaigning. A wilderness management bill he co-sponsored was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan only days before the 1988 election.[2]

Melcher was a candidate in the 1994 Senate election, but lost to Jack Mudd in the primary.[7]

Political positions

Melcher had generally liberal views on environmental issues, but was pro-life and supported prayer in public schools.[2] He was a co-sponsor of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, which regulated coal strip mining.[3]

Later life

After serving in the Senate, Melcher worked as a lobbyist for multiple organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association.[8][2]

Melcher died on April 12, 2018, in Missoula, Montana, at the age of 93.[9][10]

References

  1. ^ "United States Census, 1930", FamilySearch, retrieved March 6, 2018
  2. ^ a b c d Reports, News Services and Staff (April 13, 2018). "John Melcher, Democrat who served Montana in House and Senate, dies at 93". Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Archives West: John Melcher Papers, 1969-1988". archiveswest.orbiscascade.org. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "John Melcher". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. U.S. Congress. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  5. ^ O'Reilly, Jane (November 15, 1982). "No Thunder from the Right". Time. Retrieved October 2, 2007.
  6. ^ Barrett, Evan. "Koch bros. and talking cows". missoulian.com. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  7. ^ "Our Campaigns - MT US Senate- D Primary Race - Jun 07, 1994". www.ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  8. ^ Nolen, R. Scott. "A heart for politics". www.avma.org. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  9. ^ "Former US Sen. John Melcher of Montana dies at 93". Medicine Hat News. April 13, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  10. ^ "John Melcher, Montana Democrat in House and Senate, Dies at 93". The New York Times. April 13, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2018.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Battin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 2nd congressional district

1969–1977
Succeeded by
Ron Marlenee
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Mike Mansfield
United States Senator (Class 1) from Montana
1977–1989
Served alongside: Lee Metcalf, Paul Hatfield, Max Baucus
Succeeded by
Conrad Burns
Preceded by
James Abourezk
Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
1979–1981
Succeeded by
William Cohen
Preceded by
John Heinz
Chair of the Senate Aging Committee
1987–1989
Succeeded by
David Pryor

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