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John Tower

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John Goodwin Tower was the first Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 United States senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 since Reconstruction. He served from 1961 until his retirement in January 1985, after which time he was the chairman of the Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

-appointed Tower Commission
Tower Commission
Commissioned on November 26, 1986 by American President Ronald Reagan, the Tower Commission was in response to the Iran Contra scandal. Taking effect on December 1, Reagan appointed Republican and former Senator John Tower of Texas, former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, and former National...

 that investigated the Iran-Contra Affair
Iran-Contra Affair
The Iran–Contra affair , also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or Iran-Contra-Gate, was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior Reagan administration officials and President Reagan secretly facilitated the sale of...

. He was George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

's nominee for Secretary of Defence
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 in 1989, but he was rejected by the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 by a vote of 53 to 47.

Early life, education, and military service


Tower was born in Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

 to Joe Z. Tower (1898–1970) and Beryl Tower (1898–1990). Joe Tower was a Methodist minister. The young John Tower traveled wherever his father pastored. He attended public schools in east Texas
East Texas
East Texas is a distinct geographic and ecological area in the U.S. state of Texas.According to the Handbook of Texas, the East Texas area "may be separated from the rest of Texas roughly by a line extending from the Red River in north central Lamar County southwestward to east central Limestone...

 and graduated in Beaumont
Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont is a city in and county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's population was 118,296 at the 2010 census. With Port Arthur and Orange, it forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the...

, the seat of Jefferson County
Jefferson County, Texas
Jefferson County is a county located in the state of Texas, United States. As of 2000, the population was 252,051. Its county seat is Beaumont, and it is named for the former U.S...

, in southeast Texas in the spring of 1942.

Tower was active in politics as a child; at the age of thirteen, he passed out handbills for the campaign of liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and future U.S. Senator Ralph William Yarborough
Ralph Yarborough
Ralph Webster Yarborough was a Texas Democratic politician who served in the United States Senate and was a leader of the progressive or liberal wing of his party in his many races for statewide office...

 while Yarborough was running for Texas attorney general
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

. Yarborough and Tower would later be paired as Texas's Senate delegation, though of opposing political perspectives. He entered Southwestern University
Southwestern University
Southwestern University is a private, four-year, undergraduate, liberal arts college located in Georgetown, Texas, USA. Founded in 1840, Southwestern is the oldest university in Texas. The school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church although the curriculum is nonsectarian...

 in Georgetown
Georgetown, Texas
Georgetown is a city and also the county seat of Williamson County, Texas, United States with a population of 47,400 at the 2010 census. Southwestern University, founded in 1840, is the oldest university in Texas and is located in Georgetown, about 1/2 mile east of the historic square...

 (Williamson County
Williamson County, Texas
Williamson County is a county located on both the Edwards Plateau to the west, consisting of rocky terrain and hills, and Blackland Prairies in the east consising of rich, fertile farming land, The two areas are roughly bisected by Interstate 35...

 near Austin
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

) that same year and met future U.S. President and political opponent Lyndon Baines Johnson on a campus visit while Johnson was the local congressman.

Tower left college in the summer of 1943 to serve in the Pacific theater during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 on an LCS(L) amphibious gunboat. He returned to Texas after the war in 1946, discharged as a seaman first class, and completed his undergraduate courses at Southwestern University
Southwestern University
Southwestern University is a private, four-year, undergraduate, liberal arts college located in Georgetown, Texas, USA. Founded in 1840, Southwestern is the oldest university in Texas. The school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church although the curriculum is nonsectarian...

, having graduated in 1948 with a bachelor of arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree in political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

. Tower worked as a radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 announcer for a country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 station in Taylor
Taylor, Texas
Taylor is a city in Williamson County, Texas, United States. The population was 13,575 at the 2000 census; it was 15,191 in the 2010 census estimate. Taylors largest employers include the Electric Reliability Council of Texas , Durcon Inc, and the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, an immigration...

, east of Austin, during college and for some time afterward. Tower, however, remained in the Naval Reserve and achieved the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer retiring in 1989.

In 1949, he moved to Dallas to take graduate courses at Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University is a private university in Dallas, Texas, United States. Founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, SMU operates campuses in Dallas, Plano, and Taos, New Mexico. SMU is owned by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church...

 and to work part time as an insurance
Insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

 agent. He left SMU in 1951 and entered academia as an assistant professor at Midwestern University (now Midwestern State University
Midwestern State University
Midwestern State University is a public liberal arts college in Wichita Falls, Texas, and a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges...

) in Wichita Falls
Wichita Falls, Texas
Wichita Falls is a city in and the county seat of Wichita County, Texas, United States, United States. Wichita Falls is the principal city of the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Archer, Clay and Wichita counties. According to the U.S. Census estimate of 2010,...

. In 1952 and 1953, he pursued graduate coursework at the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 and conducted field research on the organization of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

. His research was presented in his thesis
Thesis
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings...

, The Conservative Worker in Britain. He received his Master of Arts
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 degree from SMU in 1953. While a professor at Midwestern University, Tower met Lou Bullington, whom he married in 1952. Lou, a California native, was the organist at the Towers' church. She was five years his senior. One of her cousins, Orville Bullington
Orville Bullington
Orville Bullington was an attorney and businessman in Wichita Falls, Texas, who was the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1932 against former Governor Miriam Wallace "Ma" Ferguson....

, was the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1932 against former Governor Miriam Ferguson and a leader of the Robert A. Taft forces in Texas in 1952. Orville Bullington was also an uncle by marriage of the Midland
Midland, Texas
Midland is a city in and the county seat of Midland County, Texas, United States, on the Southern Plains of the state's western area. A small portion of the city extends into Martin County. As of 2010, the population of Midland was 111,147. It is the principal city of the Midland, Texas...

 Republican figure Frank Kell Cahoon
Frank Kell Cahoon
Frank Kell Cahoon is an oilman and natural gas entrepreneur from Midland, Texas, who was the only Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives in the regular 1965 legislative session. Cahoon served two terms in the legislature from 1965 to 1969...

, a Wichita Falls native who was the only Republican in the Texas House of Representatives
Texas House of Representatives
The Texas House of Representatives is the lower house of the Texas Legislature. The House is composed of 150 members elected from single-member districts across the state. The average district has about 150,000 people. Representatives are elected to two-year terms with no term limits...

 in the 1965 legislative session.

Family life in Wichita Falls, Texas


John and Lou Tower had three children during their years in Wichita Falls born in three consecutive years: Penny (1954), Marian (1955), and Jeanne (1956). The couple divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

d in 1976.

During this same period, Tower established his core political relationships, which were managed in Wichita Falls by Pierce Langford III, a key figure in the financing of the British offshore pirate radio
Pirate radio
Pirate radio is illegal or unregulated radio transmission. The term is most commonly used to describe illegal broadcasting for entertainment or political purposes, but is also sometimes used for illegal two-way radio operation...

 stations that were created by Don Pierson
Don Pierson
Donald Grey Pierson was a businessman and civic leader in Eastland, Texas. He founded the British pirate stations Wonderful Radio London, Swinging Radio England and Britain Radio during the 1960s...

 of Eastland
Eastland, Texas
Eastland is a city in Eastland County, Texas, United States. The population was 3,769 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Eastland County.During the 1920s, Eastland, like nearby Cisco, Ranger, and Desdemona, were petroleum boomtowns....

, Texas, between 1964 and 1967. Tower put in an appearance at the offices of Swinging Radio England
Swinging Radio England
Swinging Radio England was a top 40 offshore commercial station billed as the "World's Most Powerful" that operated from 3 May 1966 to 13 November 1966 from a ship in the North Sea, three and a half miles off Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, England...

 on Curzon Street
Curzon Street
Curzon Street is located within the exclusive Mayfair district of London. The street is located entirely within the W1J postcode district and is 400 yards to the north west of Green Park tube station...

 in London.

Following his divorce from Lou, who remained single for the remainder of her life, Tower married Lilla Burt Cummings in 1977. The couple separated in 1985 and filed divorce papers on July 2, 1986.

Rise to the Senate


Although raised as a Southern Democrat, Tower became a Republican in college around 1951. He rose quickly through the ranks of the Texas Republican Party; he was a candidate for representative to the Texas Legislature
Texas Legislature
The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Texas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The Legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin...

 for the 81st district in 1954, although he lost. In 1956, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention
Republican National Convention
The Republican National Convention is the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States. Convened by the Republican National Committee, the stated purpose of the convocation is to nominate an official candidate in an upcoming U.S...

. In the 1956 presidential election, he was the campaign manager for the Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 campaign in the 23rd Senatorial District. In 1960, he was prominent enough to be chosen in the state convention held in McAllen
McAllen, Texas
McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. It is located at the southern tip of Texas in an area known as the Rio Grande Valley and is part of the . Its southern boundary is located about five miles from the U.S.–Mexico border and the Mexican city of Reynosa, the Rio...

 in Hidalgo County
Hidalgo County, Texas
Hidalgo County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. Located in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, Hidalgo County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States, and is the seventh most-populous county in Texas. Its population in 2010 was 774,769, a 35% increase from 2000...

, as the Republican candidate for the United States Senate against Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

. The only viable, prominent candidates for the seat other than Tower were Thad Hutcheson, the candidate for Texas' other Senate seat in a special election in 1957, and Bruce Alger
Bruce Alger
Bruce Reynolds Alger is an American politician and a former Republican U.S. representative from Texas, the first to have represented a Dallas district since Reconstruction. He served from 1955 until 1965. He was born in Dallas but was reared in Webster Groves, Missouri, a small suburb of St...

, the only Republican congressman from Texas at the time. Both were uninterested.

Johnson, the incumbent senator and famous nationwide as the Senate Majority Leader, won the election against Tower. As John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

's running mate, Johnson was also seeking the vice presidency in the same election and Tower's campaign slogan was "double your pleasure, double your fun — vote against Johnson two times, not one." Tower was supported by prominent Democratic former Governor Coke Stevenson, the loser by 87 votes to Johnson in the 1948 Democratic Senate primary
Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

 runoff. Tower polled 927,653 votes (41.1 percent) to Johnson's 1,306,605 votes (58 percent), better than Republicans usually did in Texas at that time.

Johnson became Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

, and Governor Price Daniel, Sr.
Price Daniel
Marion Price Daniel, Sr. , was a Democratic U.S. Senator and the 38th Governor of the state of Texas. He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be a member of the National Security Council, Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and Assistant to the President for Federal-State...

, appointed fellow Democrat William A. Blakley
William A. Blakley
William Arvis "Dollar Bill" Blakley was an American senator and businessman from the State of Texas. He served two incomplete terms as Senator, the first in 1957, the second in 1961...

 of Dallas to Johnson's Senate seat, pending a special election to be held in May 1961. Blakley, a conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

 Democrat, had also been appointed by Daniel in 1957 to succeed Daniel in the Senate when Daniel was elected governor. Considerable numbers of liberal Texas Democrats opposed the conservative Blakely and did not vote. The conservative vote was divided. Texas conservatives, traditionally "yellow dog Democrat
Yellow dog Democrat
Yellow Dog Democrats was a political term applied to voters in the Southern United States who voted solely for Democratic candidates, with the term commencing in the late 19th century. Due to Republican president Abraham Lincoln's leading the Union against the Confederacy, these voters would...

s", had already voted for Republicans in the 1950s, when Democratic Governor Allan Shivers
Allan Shivers
Robert Allan Shivers was a Texas politician who led the conservative faction of the Texas Democratic Party during the turbulent 1940s and 1950s...

 had aligned with Eisenhower, rather than the national Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson, in a movement that was jokingly called "Shivercrats".

In his second Senate campaign in a matter of months, Tower charged that the national Democratic Party, represented by Kennedy and Johnson, was far to the left of typical Texas Democrats. The initial round of voting in the special election gave Tower 327,308 votes (30.9 percent) to Blakely's 191,818 (18.1 percent). The other contenders were Democrats Jim Wright
Jim Wright
James Claude Wright, Jr. , usually known as Jim Wright, is a former Democratic U.S. Congressman from Texas who served 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the Speaker of the House from 1987 to 1989.-Early life:...

, a congressman from Fort Worth and a future U.S. House Speaker
Speaker (politics)
The term speaker is a title often given to the presiding officer of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body. The speaker's official role is to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The speaker decides who may speak and has the...

, 171,328 (16.2 percent), state Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 Will Wilson
Will Wilson
Will Reid Wilson, Sr. was a prominent Democratic politician in his native Texas best known for his service as attorney general of Texas from 1957-1963. In 1968, he joined the Republican Party to support the election of Richard M. Nixon as U.S. President. Nixon thereafter named Wilson an assistant...

 (who later became a Republican and served in the Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 Justice Department), 121,961 (11.5 percent), former state representative and liberal lawyer Maury Maverick, Jr.
Maury Maverick, Jr.
Maury Maverick, Jr. was an American lawyer, politician, activist, and columnist from the U.S. state of Texas...

, of San Antonio, 104,922 (9.9 percent), and then state Senator (and future Congressman) Henry B. Gonzalez
Henry B. Gonzalez
Henry Barbosa González was a Democratic politician from the state of Texas. He represented Texas's 20th congressional district from 1961 to 1999.-Background:...

, also of San Antonio, 97,659 (9.2 percent). There were some 65 other candidates, enticed by a filing fee at the time of only $50 for special elections, who polled a total of 4.2 percent of the vote.

Tower went on to win the runoff against Blakley. His election was historic: (1) first Republican U.S. senator from Texas since Reconstruction, (2) third Republican from the former Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 since Reconstruction, (3) first Republican from a former Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 state since Newell Sanders
Newell Sanders
Newell Sanders was a Chattanooga businessman who served for a relatively brief time as a United States Senator from Tennessee.-Biography:...

 of Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 left office in 1913 (a gap of 48 years), and (4) first Republican from the former Confederacy ever to win popular election. The final total was 448,217 votes (50.6 percent) for Tower and 437,872 (49.4 percent) for Blakely, a margin of 10,343.

United States Senate


During his first term, Tower was the only Republican Senator from the South until the defection in 1964 of Strom Thurmond
Strom Thurmond
James Strom Thurmond was an American politician who served as a United States Senator. He also ran for the Presidency of the United States in 1948 as the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes...

 of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. During this time, he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the Senate, Tower was assigned to two major committees: the Labor and Public Welfare Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Tower left the Labor and Public Welfare Committee in 1964, although in 1965 he was named to the Armed Services Committee, in which he served until his retirement. He was chairman of the Armed Services Committee from 1981 to 1984. Tower also served on the Joint Committee on Defense Production from 1963 until 1977 and on the Senate Republican Policy Committee in 1962 and from 1969 until 1984. Tower served as chairman of the latter from 1973 until his retirement from the Senate. As a member and later chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Tower was a strong proponent of modernizing the armed forces. In the Banking and Currency Committee, he was a champion of small businesses and worked to improve the national infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 and financial institutions. Tower supported Texas economic interests, working to improve the business environment of the energy, agricultural, and fishing and maritime sectors.

Nonetheless, Tower played an important role in the Nixon campaign's covert attempt to sabotage the 1968 Paris Peace Accords
Paris Peace Accords
The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 intended to establish peace in Vietnam and an end to the Vietnam War, ended direct U.S. military involvement, and temporarily stopped the fighting between North and South Vietnam...

 which could have ended the Vietnam War.

Tower quarrels with conservatives


Tower quarreled with State Senator Henry Grover
Henry Grover
Henry Cushing "Hank" Grover , was a conservative politician from the U.S. state of Texas best known for his relatively narrow defeat as the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1972. Grover was born in Corpus Christi. He died in Houston of Alzheimer's disease.Grover lived as a youth in San Antonio...

 of Houston, the 1972 Republican gubernatorial nominee, to such an extent that the intraparty divisions may have contributed to Grover's 100,000-vote defeat by Democrat Dolph Briscoe
Dolph Briscoe
Dolph Briscoe, Jr. was a Uvalde, Texas rancher and businessman who was the 41st Governor of Texas between 1973 and 1979....

 even as Tower was winning a third Senate term over the Democrat Harold Barefoot Sanders by nearly 311,000 votes.

Once considered a solid conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

, Tower angered his party's right-wing when he supported the nomination of President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., as the Republican nominee in 1976 over former Governor
Governor of California
The Governor of California is the chief executive of the California state government, whose responsibilities include making annual State of the State addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that state laws are enforced...

 Ronald W. Reagan of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. Reagan won every Texas delegate in the first ever Texas Republican presidential primary and four at-large delegates chosen at the state convention, but he narrowly lost the party nomination to Ford at the convention held that year in Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

. Ernest Angelo
Ernest Angelo
Ernest Angelo, Jr., known as Ernie Angelo , is a Texas oilman and Republican politician who served from 1972–1980 as mayor of the West Texas city of Midland and was in 1976 the co-manager of the Ronald W...

, one of three co-chairmen of the 1976 Reagan campaign in Texas and a former mayor of Midland
Midland, Texas
Midland is a city in and the county seat of Midland County, Texas, United States, on the Southern Plains of the state's western area. A small portion of the city extends into Martin County. As of 2010, the population of Midland was 111,147. It is the principal city of the Midland, Texas...

, recalls a trip to Midland by Tower in 1975. In their drive from the airport, Angelo informed Tower that he would be working in the forthcoming campaign to draft and nominate Reagan. Angelo recalls Tower as having told him that supporting Reagan would be a "dumb thing to do". At the time, all Republican U.S. senators except Jesse Helms
Jesse Helms
Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr. was a five-term Republican United States Senator from North Carolina who served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1995 to 2001...

 of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and Paul Laxalt
Paul Laxalt
Paul Dominique Laxalt of Nevada was a former Republican District Attorney, Lieutenant Governor, Governor and U.S. Senator. In the media, the words "son of a Basque sheepherder" often accompanied his name. He was one of Ronald Reagan's closest friends in politics...

 of Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 were committed to Ford. Tower blamed Ford's defeat in Texas on "Dixiecrat
Dixiecrat
The States' Rights Democratic Party was a short-lived segregationist political party in the United States in 1948...

s... the Reagan organization, aided by former Wallace leaders, made a concerted and obviously successful effort to get the Wallace vote in the Republican primary. In addition some section of Ford's defense and foreign policy alienated some voters who may otherwise have cast their ballot for the president."

By virtue of their primary defeat, the Texas Ford supporters were shut out of the national convention in Kansas City. Angelo recalls Tower as having "begged" for a delegate slot because he was a U.S. senator and was supposed to be the Ford floor leader at the convention. Angelo said that Tower could be a delegate if he were to support Reagan, an impossible condition for Tower because of his early commitment to President Ford. Tower hence was not a delegate to the 1976 convention because Angelo was mindful that a close convention showdown could have been decided by a handful of delegate votes. Angelo said that he always personally liked and admired Tower though they disagreed on some issues: "John was the best extemporaneous speaker and solid as a rock on most issues." Tower had campaigned for Angelo in the latter's unsuccessful race in 1968 for the Texas State Senate. As time passed though, Tower alienated the conservative wing of his party with his support for abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 and opposition to Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative
Strategic Defense Initiative
The Strategic Defense Initiative was proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. The initiative focused on strategic defense rather than the prior strategic...

. Barbara Staff
Barbara Staff
Barbara Ruth Wright Staff is a retired Republican political activist from Plano, Texas. She was co-chairman of her state's 1976 Ronald Reagan presidential primary campaign.-Background:...

, the Reagan co-chairman for Dallas County
Dallas County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,218,899 people, 807,621 households, and 533,837 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,523 people per square mile . There were 854,119 housing units at an average density of 971/sq mi...

 and North Texas, recalls that Tower spent much of his time at the convention with the closely divided Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 delegation and did not address the phalanx of Reagan backers in his own state's delegation. Among the Reagan backers was Betty Andujar
Betty Andujar
Elizabeth Richards Andujar, known as Betty Andujar , was the first Republican woman, a homemaker by stated occupation, to have served in the Texas State Senate...

 of Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the 16th-largest city in the United States of America and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Located in North Central Texas, just southeast of the Texas Panhandle, the city is a cultural gateway into the American West and covers nearly in Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and...

, the first Republican woman to serve in the State Senate.

Tower developed a close relationship with John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

, who was then a Navy liaison to the Senate. Tower was instrumental in helping McCain win his first election, by raising money and obtaining support from popular Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 Republicans. However, the two were never Senate colleagues; Tower left the Senate two years before McCain entered the upper chamber.

Subsequent elections



Tower was reelected three times - in 1966, 1972, and 1978, all of which were good years for Republican candidates. In 1966, Tower defeated Democratic Attorney General Waggoner Carr
Waggoner Carr
Vincent Waggoner Carr was a Democratic Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and Attorney General of Texas.-Early years, education, military service:...

 of Lubbock
Lubbock, Texas
Lubbock is a city in and the county seat of Lubbock County, Texas, United States. The city is located in the northwestern part of the state, a region known historically as the Llano Estacado, and the home of Texas Tech University and Lubbock Christian University...

, 842,501 (56.7%) to 643,855 (43.3%). Despite the victory, Tower lost the majority of the state's rural
Rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

 districts. He won every county that cast more than 10,000 votes except for McLennan County (Waco) in central Texas. In numerous counties, the 1961 or the 1966 Tower election was the first in which that county had supported a Republican candidate. In 1968 and 1972, Tower recruited his friend and later business associate Paul Eggers
Paul Eggers
Paul Walter Eggers is an Indiana native who was the Republican nominee for governor of Texas in both 1968 and 1970, when the state still had two-year gubernatorial terms. Eggers' races for governor were his only attempts at elected office...

 of Wichita Falls as the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Despite energetic but underfunded campaigns, Eggers lost both races to the Democrat Preston Smith
Preston Smith (Texas)
Preston Earnest Smith was the 40th Governor of Texas from 1969 to 1973, who earlier served as the lieutenant governor from 1963 to 1969.-Early life:...

 of Lubbock.

In 1972, Tower defeated Harold Barefoot Sanders, Jr. (1925–2008), a Dallas lawyer who had formerly served in the Texas House of Representatives, as a U.S. attorney under Kennedy, as a deputy attorney general and counselor to Johnson, and thereafter as a U.S. District Judge in Dallas, under appointment of Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, from 1979 until his death. Tower prevailed, 1,822,877 (54.7% of two-party vote) to Sanders's 1,511,948 (45.3% of two-party vote). There were more than 79,000 votes cast for others. Several of the "Democrats for Nixon
Democrats for Nixon
Democrats for Nixon was a campaign to promote Democratic support for the then-incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election...

" organizers in Texas made it clear that they were Sanders supporters for the Senate. Sanders ran far ahead of Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern
George McGovern
George Stanley McGovern is an historian, author, and former U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party nominee in the 1972 presidential election....

 in the state. Tower tried to tie Sanders to former United States Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 Ramsey Clark
Ramsey Clark
William Ramsey Clark is an American lawyer, activist and former public official. He worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, which included service as United States Attorney General from 1967 to 1969, under President Lyndon B. Johnson...

, who donated $2,000 to the Sanders campaign."

In 1974, Tower supported the Republican former mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of Lubbock
Lubbock, Texas
Lubbock is a city in and the county seat of Lubbock County, Texas, United States. The city is located in the northwestern part of the state, a region known historically as the Llano Estacado, and the home of Texas Tech University and Lubbock Christian University...

 Jim Granberry for governor. Granberry had defeated "New Right
New Right
New Right is used in several countries as a descriptive term for various policies or groups that are right-wing. It has also been used to describe the emergence of Eastern European parties after the collapse of communism.-Australia:...

" candidate Odell McBrayer
Odell McBrayer
Odell Lavon McBrayer was a Fort Worth attorney, Christian layman, and a Republican candidate for governor of Texas in the 1974 party primary election....

 in the party primary but was then crushed by incumbent Governor Dolph Briscoe
Dolph Briscoe
Dolph Briscoe, Jr. was a Uvalde, Texas rancher and businessman who was the 41st Governor of Texas between 1973 and 1979....

. It was a disastrous Republican year, both nationally and in Texas.

In 1978, Tower ran in a close campaign. He edged out Democratic Congressman Robert Krueger of New Braunfels in Comal County
Comal County, Texas
Comal County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2010, its population was 108,472. Its seat is New Braunfels.Comal County is part of the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History Timeline:...

 in the Hill Country, 1,151,376 (50.3% of two-party vote) to 1,139,149 (49.7% of two-party vote). Tower's plurality over Krueger was 12,227 votes, but because there were another 22,015 votes cast for other nominal contenders, Tower prevailed with less than 50% of the total vote. This was the campaign in which Tower refused to shake Krueger's hand at a candidate forum on grounds that his opponent had spread untruths about Tower's personal life. (Krueger later served in the Senate on an interim appointment from Governor Ann Richards
Ann Richards
Dorothy Ann Willis Richards was an American politician from Texas. She first came to national attention as the state treasurer of Texas, when she delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Richards served as the 45th Governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995 and was...

 from January to June 1993.)

Post-senate career



Tower retired from the Senate after nearly twenty-four years in office. He continued to be involved in national politics, advising the campaigns of Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 and George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

. Two weeks after his leaving office, Tower was named chief United States negotiator at the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

. Tower resigned from this office in 1987, and for a time was a professor at Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University is a private university in Dallas, Texas, United States. Founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, SMU operates campuses in Dallas, Plano, and Taos, New Mexico. SMU is owned by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church...

 in Dallas. He became a consultant with Tower, Eggers, and Greene Consulting from 1987 to 1991.
In November 1986, President Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 asked Tower to chair the President's Special Review Board to study the action of the National Security Council
United States National Security Council
The White House National Security Council in the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the...

 and its staff during the Iran-Contra Affair
Iran-Contra Affair
The Iran–Contra affair , also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or Iran-Contra-Gate, was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior Reagan administration officials and President Reagan secretly facilitated the sale of...

. The board, which became known as the Tower Commission
Tower Commission
Commissioned on November 26, 1986 by American President Ronald Reagan, the Tower Commission was in response to the Iran Contra scandal. Taking effect on December 1, Reagan appointed Republican and former Senator John Tower of Texas, former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, and former National...

, issued its report on February 26, 1987. The report was highly critical of the Reagan administration and of the National Security Council's dealings with both Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

n Contras.

In 1989, Tower was President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

's choice to become Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

. But in a stunning move — particularly given that Tower was himself a former Senate colleague — the United States Senate rejected his nomination. The largest factors were concern about Tower's personal life, in particular allegations of alcohol abuse and womanizing. The Senate vote was 53-47, the first time that the Senate had rejected a cabinet nominee of a newly elected president.

As The New York Times reported in his obituary: "Mr. Tower's repudiation by his former colleagues, who rejected him as President Bush's nominee for Secretary of Defense after public allegations of womanizing and heavy drinking, left a bitterness that could not be assuaged. In the normally clubby Senate, Mr. Tower was regarded by some colleagues as a gut fighter who did not suffer fools gladly, and some lawmakers indicated that they were only too pleased to rebuke him."

In response to the alcohol allegations, Tower told the Times in 1990: "Have I ever drunk to excess? Yes. Am I alcohol-dependent? No. Have I always been a good boy? Of course not. But I've never done anything disqualifying. That's the point."

After Tower's defeat, he was instead named chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
The President's Intelligence Advisory Board is an advisor to the Executive Office of the President of the United States. According to its self-description, it "...provides advice to the President concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of...

. Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

, then a Representative from Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

 and the House minority whip
Party whips of the United States House of Representatives
A whip in the United States House of Representatives manages his party's legislative program on the House floor. The Whip keeps track of all legislation and ensures that all party members are present when important measures are to be voted upon....

, was later confirmed as secretary of defense.

Death


On April 5, 1991, Tower and his daughter Marian were killed along with twenty-one other people in the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines
Atlantic Southeast Airlines
Atlantic Southeast Airlines is an American airline based in the A-Tech Center in College Park, Georgia, flying to 144 destinations as a Delta Connection carrier and, as of February 2010, commenced service as a United Express carrier. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc. ASA operates...

 Flight 2311
Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311
Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311 was a regularly scheduled commuter flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Brunswick, Georgia which suffered an uncontrolled collision with terrain during landing approach to Glynco Jetport , just north of Brunswick, on April 5, 1991. The aircraft was an Embraer...

 on approach for landing at Brunswick, Georgia
Brunswick, Georgia
Brunswick is the major urban and economic center in southeastern Georgia in the United States. The municipality is located on a harbor near the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 30 miles north of Florida and 70 miles south of South Carolina. Brunswick is bordered on the east by the Atlantic...

. The crash was due to propeller
Propeller
A propeller is a type of fan that transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust. A pressure difference is produced between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil-shaped blade, and a fluid is accelerated behind the blade. Propeller dynamics can be modeled by both Bernoulli's...

 control failure. Also killed in the crash was astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

 Sonny Carter
Sonny Carter
Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter, Jr. was an American physician, professional soccer player, naval officer, and NASA astronaut who flew on STS-33.-Early life:...

. Tower and his daughter are buried together in the family plot at the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery is located at 7405 West Northwest Highway in north Dallas, Texas . Among the notable persons interred here are:*Sawnie Robertson Aldredge , mayor of Dallas, Texas...

 in Dallas. A cenotaph
Cenotaph
A cenotaph is an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion...

 in Tower's honor was erected at the Texas State Cemetery
Texas State Cemetery
The Texas State Cemetery is a cemetery located on about just east of downtown Austin, the capital of Texas. Originally the burial place of Edward Burleson, Texas Revolutionary general and Vice-President of the Republic of Texas, it was expanded into a Confederate cemetery during the Civil War...

 in Austin
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

. Tower's personal and political life are chronicled in his autobiography, Consequences: A Personal and Political Memoir, published a few months before his death.

Source

  • Finley, Keith. "Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators Fight against Civil Rights, 1938-1965." Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008.

External links


Retrieved on 2008-02-08