Oklahoma's Senators From Statehood




Robert Latham Owen
United States Senator
from Oklahoma

Dec 11, 1907 - March 3, 1925

Robert Latham Owen was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on February 2, 1856. He attended private schools in Lynchburg and in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1877. Owen, who was of part-Cherokee descent through his mother, Narcissa Chisholm Owen, moved to Salina, Oklahoma, and taught school among the Cherokee Indians. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1880. He was a federal Indian agent for the Five Civilized Tribes 1885-1889, member of the Democratic National Committee 1892-1896, organized the First National Bank of Muskogee in 1890 and was its president for ten years. Upon the admission of Oklahoma as a State into the Union in 1907, Owen was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate for the term ending March 3, 1913; reelected in 1912 and 1918 and served from December 11, 1907, to March 3, 1925. Before leaving for Washington, Owen was one of the few people present as Governor of Oklahoma Charles N. Haskell accepted his oath of office in Haskell's hotel room in Oklahoma City.  Reflecting his position as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, Owen was the chief sponsor in the Senate of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, known at the time of its passage as the Glass-Owen Bill, which created the Federal Reserve System. He would later repudiate the Federal Reserve, claiming despite his efforts to ensure it would be controlled by the government that it had come under the control of the larger banks and was responsible for the unnecessary contraction of credit leading to the Great Depression. His role in the creation of the Federal Reserve is nevertheless commemorated by the Robert Latham Owen Park, on the grounds of the Federal Reserve building in Washington DC.  While still a Senator, Owen accompanied his friend Governor Haskell to the 1920 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. There Governor Haskell labored to have Owen named as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. But the Democrats selected Governor of Ohio James M. Cox to face Republican Warren G. Harding in the United States presidential election, 1920. Owen declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1924. He was the chairman of the Senate Committees on Indian Depredations, the Mississippi River and Its Tributaries, Pacific Railroads, Banking and Currency, and the Five Civilized Tribes. Owen resumed the practice of law in Washington, D.C.. He organized and served as chairman of the National Popular Government League from 1913 until his death in Washington, D.C., July 19, 1947. His body was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Lynchburg, Virginia


William Bliss Pine
United States Senator
from Oklahoma

March 4, 1925 - March 3, 1931

William Bliss Pine (December 30, 1877 - August 25, 1942) was a United States Senator from Oklahoma. Born in Bluffs, Illinois, he attended the public schools, taught school three years, and was employed as a salesman of harvesters. He moved to Chanute, Kansas and was employed in the oil producing business; he moved to Oklahoma in 1904 and continued in the oil industry. In 1909 he located in Okmulgee, Oklahoma where he eventually became extensively engaged in the production of oil.  Pine was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1925, to March 3, 1931; he was unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1930, after which he resumed his former business pursuits. He was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1934. He died in Okmulgee in 1942; at the time of his death, he was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. Interment was in Okmulgee Cemetery.


Thomas Pryor Gore

United States Senator
from Oklahoma
In office
March 4, 1931
January 3
, 1937

Thomas Pryor Gore (born Governor Thomas Pryor Gore on December 10, 1870?March 16, 1949) was a Democratic politician. Born in Webster County, Mississippi, he moved to Oklahoma in 1901 and was a United States Senator from Oklahoma from 1907 until 1921 and from 1931 until 1937. He is notable for being totally blind as well as for being the maternal grandfather of author Gore Vidal. Although said to be distantly related to Albert Gore, Sr. and former vice-president Al Gore there is no proven connection; Al Gore descends from a John Gore who was in Virginia by 1653 while Thomas P. Gore descends from a James Gore who was born in England or Wales in 1662.  He became blind as a child through two separate accidents but did not give up his dream of becoming a senator. In 1907, he was elected to the Senate as one of the first two senators from the new state of Oklahoma. He was re-elected in 1908 and 1914 but defeated in 1920. He was known as a member of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, who worked with Republicans such as Robert La Follette. He was to a large extent no different from any other politician because of his blindness, but there were problems, as La Follette recounts an example in his memoirs when, during a filibuster, Gore did not realize that the senator who was to take over speaking for him had left the room, and the filibuster failed because he did not continue to speak. Also, some of Gore's colleagues in the Senate would attempt to take advantage of Gore's blindness by tricking him into signing documents that it was not in his party's interest for him to sign. He was famous for turning the tables on these sharp dealers and tricking them into signing documents that they did not intend to sign. These exploits made him popular with the press who dubbed him "The Blind Cowboy."  He is also noted as being the author of a bill placed before the United States Senate during the early stages of World War I which encouraged American citizens not to travel aboard belligerent merchant vessels. The merchant vessels were under threat of attack by German U-boats, and the Senator felt the loss of American lives upon these boats threatened official American neutrality at the time. Though previously a strong supporter of President Woodrow Wilson, Gore opposed the United States entry into World War I even after American involvement began. This largely caused Gore to be defeated in the Democratic primary in 1920. On domestic policy he was a supporter of the interests of farmers and native Americans. Gore was re-elected in 1930 to the Senate. When Franklin D. Roosevelt first took office as President, Gore at first supported his New Deal but later feuded with him. After Gore retired from the US Senate in January, 1937, after losing the 1936 Democratic primary, he practiced law in Washington, D.C., until his death on March 16, 1949. Gore was initially buried at Rosehill Cemetery, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but was later reinterred on July 19, 1949, in Fairlawn Cemetery, also in Oklahoma City. He married Nina Belle Kay (1877 - 1963), a Texas plantation owner's daughter, on December 27, 1900. They had two children, Nina S. Gore (1903 - 1978) (the mother of Gore Vidal) and Thomas Notley Gore (born 1910). His grandson, Gore Vidal, who has made his own fame as an author, has stated that his grandfather was an atheist and had a strong misanthropic streak - a populist who didn't like people, as Vidal put it. During a speech to the National Press Club (November 4, 1994) Vidal claimed that Thomas Gore had said "If there was any race other than the human race, I'd go join it." A major road artery in Lawton, Oklahoma, Gore Boulevard, is named after him, as is the eastern Oklahoma village of Gore.


John William Harreld
United States Senator
from Oklahoma

November 8
, 1919
March 3, 1921

John William Harreld (January 24, 1872 - December 26, 1950) was a United States Representative and Senator from Oklahoma. Born near Morgantown, Kentucky, he attended the public schools, the normal school at Lebanon, Ohio, and Bryant and Stratton Business College of Louisville, Kentucky, where he taught while studying law. He was admitted to the bar in 1889 and commenced practice in Morgantown. He was prosecuting attorney of Butler County from 1892 to 1896, and moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1906 where he continued the practice of law. He was a referee in bankruptcy from 1908 to 1915, when he resigned to become an executive with an oil corporation. He moved to Oklahoma City in 1917 and engaged in the production of oil and continued the practice of law.  Harreld was elected, on November 8, 1919, as a Republican to the Sixty-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Joseph B. Thompson and served from November 8, 1919, to March 3, 1921. He was not a candidate for renomination, having become a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator; he was elected to the Senate in 1920 and served from March 4, 1921, to March 3, 1927; he was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1926. While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs (Sixty-eighth and Sixty-ninth Congresses). He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1940 to the Seventy-seventh Congress and returned to Oklahoma City, where he continued the practice of law and his interest in the oil business. He died there in 1950, and was interred in Fairlawn Cemetery.


John William
Elmer Thomas
United States House
of Representative
6th District
In office
March 4, 1923 
March 3, 1927


U
nited States Senator
from Oklahoma
In office
March 4, 1927
January 3, 1951

John William Elmer Thomas (September 8, 1876 ? September 19, 1965) was a Representative and a Senator from Oklahoma. Born on a farm near Greencastle, Indiana, he attended the common schools; graduated from the Central Normal College (now Canterbury), Danville, Indiana, in 1897 and from the graduate department of DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, in 1900. He studied law; admitted to the Indiana bar in 1897 and to the Oklahoma bar in 1900, and commenced practice in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1901 and continued the practice of law; member, State senate 1907?1920, serving as president pro tempore 1910?1913; founded the town of Medicine Park, Oklahoma 1908; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1920 to the Sixty-seventh Congress; elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-eighth and Sixty-ninth Congresses (March 4, 1923?March 3, 1927). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1926, having become a candidate for United States Senator; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1926; reelected in 1932, 1938 and 1944 and served from March 4, 1927, to January 3, 1951; unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1950; chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs (Seventy-fourth through Seventy-seventh Congresses), Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (Seventy-eighth, Seventy-ninth and Eighty-first Congresses), Committee on Indian Affairs (Seventy-eighth Congress); engaged in the practice of law in Washington, D.C., until August 1957; returned to Lawton, Oklahoma, where he died September 19, 1965; interment in Highland Cemetery. During the Depression, Senator Thomas proposed an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act that would help farmers financially by empowering the president to reduce the gold backing for dollars and to print bills backed by silver alone when cash became depressively tight. Lewis Douglas, Roosevelt's budget director, was furious about this threat to the gold standard, and in its final form the amendment was weaker. Senator Thomas was behind the creation of Medicine Park, situated in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma. A lake named after the senator lies to the West of the park, just Northwest of Lawton. It has 8 miles (13 km) of shoreline and 334 acres


Joshua Bryan Lee
United States Senator
from Oklahoma

Jan 3
, 1937
, to Jan 3, 1943.

Joshua Bryan Lee (January 23, 1892 - August 10, 1967) was a United States Representative and Senator from Oklahoma. Born in Childersburg, Alabama, he moved with his parents to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma (which was then Indian Territory), and then to Kiowa County, near Hobart, in 1901. He attended the public schools of Hobart and Rocky, Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Baptist University at Shawnee. He was a teacher in the public schools of Rocky from 1911 to 1913 and was a coach of athletics and teacher of public speaking at the Oklahoma Baptist University, 1913-1915; he graduated from the University of Oklahoma at Norman in 1917, and received a graduate degree in political science from Columbia University in 1924, and a law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Cumberland University (Tennessee) in 1925.  During the First World War, Joshua Lee served overseas as a private in the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Infantry, Thirty-fourth Division, in 1917 and 1918. From 1919 to 1934, he was head of the public speaking department of the University of Oklahoma, and was also an author and lecturer; he owned and operated a ranch in western Oklahoma and a farm near Norman. He was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-fourth Congress (January 3, 1935-January 3, 1937) and was not a candidate for renomination in 1936; he was then elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from January 3, 1937, to January 3, 1943. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1942, and was a member of the Civil Aeronautics Board from 1943 to 1955. He returned to Norman and practiced law; he died there in 1967 and was interred in the I. O. O. F. Cemetery.


Edward Hall Moore
United States Senator
from Oklahoma
 January 3, 1943
January 3, 1949

Edward Hall Moore (November 19, 1871 ? September 2, 1950) was a United States Senator from Oklahoma. Born on a farm near Maryville, Missouri, he attended the public schools and Chillicothe Normal School. He taught school in Nodaway, Atchinson, and Jackson Counties, and graduated from the Kansas City School of Law in 1900. He was admitted to the bar in 1901 and began practice in Maryville; he moved shortly thereafter to Okmulgee, Oklahoma and practiced law until 1919. He was an oil producer, farmer, and cattle raiser from 1919 to 1942.  Moore was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 1942 and served from January 3, 1943, to January 3, 1949; he was not a candidate for renomination in 1948, and retired from public life and political activities. He died in Tulsa in 1950 and was interred in Okmulgee Cemetery.



Robert S. Kerr
12th Governor
In office
1943-1947

United States Senator
from Oklahoma

In office
1949-1963

Robert S. Kerr (September 11, 1896?January 1, 1963) was an American businessman from Oklahoma. Kerr formed a petroleum company before turning to politics. He served as Governor of Oklahoma and was elected three times to the United States Senate. Kerr worked natural resources, and his legacy includes water projects that link the Arkansas River via the Gulf of Mexico to the oceans of the world. Kerr was born in a log cabin near what is now Ada, Oklahoma in Indian Territory, the son of William Samuel Kerr, a farmer, clerk, and politician, and Margaret Eloda Wright. Kerr's upbringing as a Southern Baptist had a profound influence on his life. Not only did his religious beliefs lead him to teach Sunday school and to shun alcohol throughout his adulthood, it also aided his political aspirations in a conservative state where Baptists were the single largest denomination. He enrolled at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee as a junior in high school. He later attended East Central State College in Ada. He briefly studied law at the University of Oklahoma until poverty forced him to drop out in 1916. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Kerr was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army. He never saw combat, but he used his active involvement in the Oklahoma National Guard and the American Legion to forward his business and political careers. He then returned to study law under an Ada judge. Kerr passed the bar exam in 1922, but a business failure the previous year had left him deeply in debt. In 1924 his wife of more than four years, Reba Shelton, died in childbirth, along with his twin daughters. The next year he married Grayce Breene, the youngest daughter of a wealthy Tulsa family. They had four children.Kerr used his new family connections to enter the oil business with his brother-in-law, James L. Anderson, as his partner. By 1929 the Anderson-Kerr Drilling Company had become so prosperous that Kerr abandoned his law practice to focus on oil. Anderson retired in 1936, and Dean A. McGee, former chief geologist for Phillips Petroleum, joined the firm, which changed its name in 1946 to Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Incorporated. Kerr-McGee diversified into global drilling for petroleum and processed other fuels and minerals, including uranium and helium.  Kerr's growing wealth and business ties made him a power in state Democratic politics during the 1930s. In 1942 he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor as a supporter both of the New Deal and of a vigorous U.S. role in World War II. Oklahoma's Democrats were divided over President Franklin Roosevelt's policies, leading to a bitter campaign. Kerr narrowly won the primary and went on to triumph by a small margin in the general election. He was the first native-born governor.  His four-year term as governor served as a turning point for Oklahoma's politics and economy. For the first time in the state's history, executive-legislative relations remained cordial, largely due to Kerr's patient leadership. When not cultivating legislators the governor prepared his state to weather postwar economic storms. Kerr traveled more than 400,000 miles to sell Oklahoma's products and potential throughout the nation. Not coincidentally, Kerr's boosterism also promoted his own political fortunes. In 1944 he was chosen to deliver the keynote address at the National Democratic Convention, where he played a back-room role in the selection of Harry S. Truman as vice president. During World War II, despite the tendency of Oklahomans to keep the Federal government at arm's-length, Kerr promoted ties to the government, knowing how important the jobs and activity were to create prosperity. Oklahoma became home to many wartime industries and was a training site for military personnel. After the war, he called for increased spending to allow for post-war development of the state. Kerr traveled around the country to promote Oklahoma at his own expense. Kerr used his success as governor to catapult himself into the U.S. Senate in 1948. Although he had national ambitions, he always put what he perceived to be the interests of his state first. Unlike many of his peers he generally neglected headline-grabbing issues, including anticommunism, foreign affairs, and civil rights, in favor of more mundane topics such as oil policies and public works. He believed Oklahomans would benefit most, and support him strongly, if he concentrated on concrete economic matters. In a closely contested race, Kerr became the first Oklahoma governor elected to the Senate. He had Presidential aspirations briefly in 1952, but he failed to win the Democratic nomination. Kerr devoted his energies to building his Senate career. In the Senate, Kerr's activism on natural gas regulation quicklywon him a reputation for being a staunch defender of his region and its special interests, including his own petroleum company. His personality reinforced these first impressions. Kerr's colleagues widely considered him a brilliant debater who overwhelmed his opponents with his passion and his mastery of policy detail. A disappointed Kerr then threw himself completely into his legislative work. He built alliances with the powerful southern and western Democrats who dominated the Senate, including Richard Russell of Georgia and Lyndon Johnson of Texas. Kerr relied on these friends and on careful committee preparation to pursue regional economic development. The Arkansas River Navigation System became his defining goal through his three terms in the Senate. The $1.2 billion federal project, centered in northeastern Oklahoma, fostered more than $3 billion in commercial and industrial development in the Arkansas River basin during the two years after its completion in 1971. A once stagnant portion of his state quickly emerged as a regional economic hub. Kerr would also serv on several key Senate committees, most notably the Finance and Public Works committees. As a petroleum executive, Kerr also championed petroleum and natural gas interests, and advocated for the conservation of natural resources. His father had told him ?To raise a family, you have to have three things ? land, wood and water."  His legislative acumen combined with changes in congressional leadership to make his allegiance pivotal to President John F. Kennedy's programs on Capitol Hill. On issues of common interest, such as space and taxes, Kerr cooperated with Kennedy to guarantee mutual success. On areas of disagreement, including Medicare, Kerr stymied the president. In January of 1963, the Wall Street Journal summarized the relationship with only some exaggeration: "Mr. Kennedy asked; Mr. Kerr decided." Kerr suffered a fatal heart attack on January 1, 1963. Shortly after he died, an article written by an Associated Press reporter agreed with the title of the The Saturday Evening Post tribute. Both called Kerr ?The Uncrowned King of the Senate.? Kerr's chief legacy for the state of Oklahoma is a series of water projects and dams that made the Arkansas River into a navigable inland waterway system. During his term as governor, Kerr witnessed the devastation caused by flooding of the Arkansas River and its tributaries due to the river's shallowness, which prevented river traffic from reaching Oklahoma. His first bill in Congress created the Arkansas, White and Red River Study Commission, which planned the land and water development in this region. He died before he saw the commission's work come to fruition as the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, a series of 17 locks and dams making the waterway navigable from the Tulsa Port of Catoosa to the Gulf of Mexico. Dozens of Oklahoma schools, buildings, roads, streets, parks, organizations, and events are named in Kerr's honor. Most notable is a portion of 2nd Street, between E.K. Gaylord Avenue and Classen Boulevard in downtown Oklahoma City, called Robert S. Kerr Ave. (The street directly north (3rd St) was renamed for his partner, Dean A. McGee.) The Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma houses Kerr's papers; most are from his years in the Senate, but some gubernatorial papers and his political and Senate speeches are also included. Kerr's death contributed to Kennedy's legislative difficulties in 1963, marked the end of the Democratic party's dominance in Oklahoma politics, and signaled the passing of a major figure in the oil industry, but in addition to an estate estimated to be worth at least $35 million, he left a legacy that extended beyond partisan or business affairs. His forceful use of the federal government to spur regional development, an approach shared by contemporaries, including Johnson, helped integrate the South and Southwest into the national economy. The rise of the "Sunbelt" ultimately transformed all aspects of American life. Robert Kerr played a significant role in that transformation.


Senator Fred Roy Harris
In office
November 4, 1964 â January 3, 1973

Harris, Fred Roy, a Senator from Oklahoma; born in Walters, Cotton County, Okla., November 13, 1930; attended the public schools; graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1952 and from the law school in 1954; admitted to the bar in 1954 and began to practice law in Lawton, Okla.; member, State senate 1956-1964; unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 1962; elected in a special election on November 3,1964, as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Robert S. Kerr for the term ending January 3, 1967; reelected in 1966 and served from November 4, 1964, to January 2, 1973; was not a candidate for reelection in 1972; unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 Harris' race had at least two unusual features. For one, in order to keep expenses down, he traveled the country in a RV and stayed in private homes, giving his hosts a card which was to be redeemable for one night's stay in the White House upon his election. For another, he placed unusual stress on issues affecting Native Americans.This was due to his background â his wife LaDonna Harris was of Native American Commanche ancestry, and had been deeply involved in Native American activism in her own right. Moreover, he was from the state which had begun its political existence as Indian Territory.; professor of political science, University of New Mexico; author; is a resident of Corrales, N.Mex.


James Howard Edmondson
16th Governor of
Oklahoma from 1959 to 1963

United States Senator
from Oklahoma

1963-1964

James Howard Edmondson (September 27, 1925 - November 17, 1971) was Governor of Oklahoma from 1959 to 1963, and was the youngest governor in the history of the state. Edmondson was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He attended elementary and secondary schools in that city and enrolled in the University of Oklahoma after high school graduation. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in March 1942, and served until December 5, 1945. He returned to the University and completed his law degree in August 1948. After practicing law in Muskogee, he moved to Tulsa to become the chief prosecutor in the office of the county attorney of Tulsa County. He was elected county attorney in 1954 and was re-elected in 1956. Edmondson was inaugurated Governor of Oklahoma January 8, 1959, after having been elected to that post by the largest majority ever given a gubernatorial candidate in the state. He ran on a platform of reform, and passed many reforms despite opposition from the legislature during his first two years as governor, including the repeal of alcohol prohibition in the state. He resigned from office as Governor two weeks before the end of his term, on January 6, 1963, and was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the position left vacant by the death of Robert S. Kerr. He served in the Senate until November 1964. He ran for a full term in the Senate in 1964, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Fred R. Harris. At the time of his death of an apparent heart attack on November 17, 1971, he was a practicing attorney in Oklahoma City. Edmondson is the brother of former U.S. Congressman Ed Edmondson. He is also the uncle of both current Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and current Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice James E. Edmondson. His niece, Sarah Edmondson, is serving a thirty five year sentence for murder, attempted murder, and armed robbery. Edmonson also appeared in 1959 on the television game show What's My Line?. The panel was astonished at his young age of thirty-three at that time.


19th Governor
of Oklahoma

In office
January 9, 1967 
January 11, 1971

United States Senator
from Oklahoma

In office
January 3, 1973 
January 3, 1979

Dewey Follett Bartlett (March 28, 1919?March 1, 1979), a U.S. politician, He served as the second Republican Governor of Oklahoma from 1967 to 1971, following his predecessor, Henry Bellmon. In 1966, he was elected governor after defeating the Democratic nominee, Preston Moore of Oklahoma City. He was defeated for reelection in 1970 by Tulsa attorney David Hall in the closest election in state history. He was born in Marietta, Ohio, and attended schools in Marietta and Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Following his graduation from Princeton University with a degree in geological engineering in 1942, he served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. After the war, he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and held various jobs in farming, ranching, and the oil industry, inheriting ownership of the Tulsa-based Keener Oil and Gas Company from his father, David A. Bartlett. Prior to becoming Governor, he served in the State Senate from 1962 to 1966. In 1970, he was the first Oklahoma Governor eligible to seek a second term. In the general election, he was challenged by then-Tulsa County Attorney David Hall. In the closest Gubernatorial election in state history, Hall unseated Bartlett by a vote of 338,338 to 336,157. Following his defeat, he served for one term in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 1979 after winning the seat previously held by Democrat Fred R. Harris. He narrowly defeated U.S. Congressman Ed Edmondson in the 1972 election riding on President Richard Nixon's coattails. During his tenure in Congress, he took a conservative stance on most issues and championed oil and gas interests during the energy crisis of the 1970s. However, he suffered health problems and, rather than face a very difficult reelection against popular Democratic Governor David Boren, decided not to seek reelection. Two months after retiring from the U.S. Senate, he died in Tulsa from complications of lung cancer, and is buried in the city's Calvary Cemetery. In 1990 he was inducted into the Oklahoma CareerTech Hall of Fame and in March, 2006, Congress passed a bill renaming the U.S. Post Office in Tulsa in his honor. His son, Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr. served on the Tulsa City Council from 1990 to 1994, and has inherited the Keener Oil and Gas Company from his father. He was also a member of the board of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. He ran unsuccessfully against Tom Adelson for State Senate district 33 in 2004.


21st Governor
of Oklahoma
In office
1975-1979

United States Senator
From Oklahoma

In office
1979-1994

13th President of the
University of Oklahoma
Assumed office in 1994
Still in office

David Lyle Boren (born April 21, 1941) is an academic leader and American politician from the state of Oklahoma. A Democrat, he served as governor of Oklahoma from 1975 to 1979 and in the United States Senate from 1979 to 1994. He is currently president of the University of Oklahoma.He was the longest serving Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Commitee on Intelligence. Boren is part of the politically-prominent Boren family. His father, Lyle Boren, served in the U.S. House of Representatives (OK-04) from 1937 to 1947. His son, Dan Boren, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives (OK-02) since 2005. Boren was born in Washington, D.C. He graduated in 1963 from Yale University, where he majored in American history, graduated in the top one percent of his class and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was a member of the Yale Conservative Party, elected president of the Yale Political Union and was a member of Skull and Bones. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a master's degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University (1965), serving later as a member of the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee. In 1968, he received a law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.During the Vietnam War, Boren served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard from 1968 to 1974, attaining the rank of Captain. One obscure bit of trivia is that while a state representative in 1967, he served on a legislative committee to investigate the University of Oklahoma after the school allowed black militant Paul Boutelle, a socialist and anti-Vietnam War activist, to give a speech there. Boren has been a friend and political associate of several Speakers of the House, including Carl Albert. Albert's Chief of Staff, Charles Ward later served as Boren's Chief of Staff when he became U.S. Senator. Boren's son, Dan Boren, represents Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives. Boren's daughter, Carrie, is a former actress and current director for evangelism in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Boren was a first cousin to the late folk singer Hoyt Axton. His Aunt Mae Axton wrote "Heartbreak Hotel" which became popular after the tune was sung by Elvis Presley. He has been married twice, to the late Janna Little and currently to Molly Shi. In the U.S. Senate, Boren was known as a centrist or conservative Democrat, often aligning with southern Democrats such as Sam Nunn of Georgia and Howell Heflin of Alabama. He was a strong advocate of tax cuts across the board as the cornerstone of economic policy. He opposed the Windfall profit tax on the domestic oil industry, which caused America to become more dependent on foreign oil and was repealed in 1988. At one point, the tax was generating no revenue, yet still required oil companies to comply with reporting requireements and the IRS to spend $15 million to collect the tax. Of the tax, Boren said: "As long as the tax is not being collected, the accounting requirements are needless. They result in heavy burdens for the private sector and unnecessary cost to the taxpayer."  Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), who served with Sen. Boren, publicly stated that Boren should be elected President. Boren's Chief of Staff was a respected Capitol Hill insider, Charles Ward, a former longtime Administrative Assistant to Speaker Albert. Boren served on the Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. he also served as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the longest-serving chairman of that committee ever. Boren sponsored the National Security Education Act of 1991, which established the National Security Education Program.Boren decided in 1990 to vote against the Persian Gulf War, surprising most political observers.Boren was one of the President Bill Clinton's top choices to replace Les Aspin as a U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1994. However, Clinton selected William J. Perry instead. In a controversial public mea culpa in a New York Times Op/Ed piece, Boren expressed regret over his vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Partly as a result of that statement, The Daily Oklahoman, the largest newspaper in Oklahoma, which had encouraged and endorsed Boren's entire career, began calling for his retirement from the U.S. Senate. In 1994, he resigned his Senate seat to accept the presidency of the University of Oklahoma.  Boren currently serves as President of the University of Oklahoma, and sits on the Board of Directors of Texas Instruments and AMR Corporation (the parent company of American Airlines). In 1996, Reform Party Presidential candidate Ross Perot unsuccessfully sought Boren to be his vice-presidential running mate. In 2001, Boren, along with fellow Democrat former Governor George Nigh was listed as being in support of the Right to Work law in Oklahoma. The measure, proposed and sponsored by then Gov. Frank Keating, was passed by the voters. Boren is regarded as a mentor to former CIA Director George Tenet from his days as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Boren and Tenet were having breakfast together when Tenet was called away to respond to the terror attacks. Boren said that in the weeks before the Iraq War began in March 2003, he warned Tenet that since he was not a member of President George W. Bush?s closest circle of advisers, the White House would make him the scapegoat if things went badly in Iraq. "I told him they had your name circled if anything goes wrong," Boren recalls telling Tenet. In June 2007, conservative political columnist Robert Novak claimed that Boren had met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss a possible third-party presidential campaign. Bloomberg had just recently left the Republican Party, and speculation arose that he discussed the possibility of Boren joining him as a running mate. However, on April 18, 2008, Boren endorsed the leading Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. In 2008, he released a book titled A Letter to America


Almer Stillwell Monroney
Member of the U.S. House
 of Representatives

from Oklahoma's 5th
congressional district

1939-1951

United States Senator 
from Oklahoma

1951-1969

Almer Stillwell "Mike" Monroney (March 2, 1902 ? February 13, 1980) was a Democratic Party politician from Oklahoma. He also represented Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives from 1939 until 1951. He then represented Oklahoma in the United States Senate from 1951 until 1969. Monroney graduated from the University of Oklahoma (Norman) in 1924, then served as a reporter for the Oklahoma News from 1924 to 1928. In 1938 he ran for Congress as a Democrat and was elected, then reelected in the five next elections, up to 1951. As a Representative, he co-authored the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. As a Senator, he sponsored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958. The law required that all new automobiles carry a sticker on a window containing important information about the vehicle. That sticker is commonly known as a "Monroney sticker". After the war there were many more Americans that wanted cars than there were cars and he saw that there needed a consumer protection for the returning veterans to "get mobile" and the country to get on with it. As chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, Monroney wrote and sponsored the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 that created the Federal Aviation Administration, to improve aviation safety and achieve better coordination of air traffic in the aftermath of several deadly air crashes. All private planes in the United States are registered at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. Air Traffic Controllers are also trained there. As a result of his contributions to aviation, he was known as "Mr. Aviation" in the Senate. In 1961, Cannon was awarded the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy by the National Aeronautics Association and in 1964 he received the first Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to the commercial aviation industry. He was voted by the Senate pages as "the nicest Senator" and was known for being a statesman. He lost his Senatorial bid in 1968 after 30 years serving Oklahoma. Senator Monroney was considered as a running mate for Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson in 1952, but was rejected for his lack of national recognition. He was married to Mary Ellen Mellon of the Mellon banking family and had one son, Michael Monroney, four grandchildren, Erin, Alice, Michael and Susanna Monroney Quinn, and three great-grandchildren, Meghan and Mitchell Monroney and adorable Jocelyn Luddy (daughter of Susanna Monroney Quinn and stepdaughter of former White House Counsel, Jack Quinn).


James Mountain  Inhofe
Oklahoma House of
Representatives

1967 to 1969

Oklahoma Senate
1969 until 1977

32nd Mayor- Tulsa, Oklahoma
In office
1978-1984

United States Senator from
Oklahoma
Assumed office 
November 17, 1994
Still in Office

Chairman of the Senate
Committee on Environment
and Public Works
In office
January 3, 2003  
January 3, 2007

James Mountain "Jim" Inhofe (born November 17, 1934) is an American politician from Oklahoma. A member of the Republican Party, he currently serves as the senior Senator from Oklahoma. He is among the most vocal global warming skeptics in Congress. Inhofe often cites the Bible as the source for his positions on various political issues. Inhofe was born in Des Moines, Iowa and moved with his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he was a child. He was a member of the Class of 1953 at Tulsa Central High School, and served in the United States Army from 1957 to 1958In 1959, Inhofe married Kay Kirkpatrick, with whom he has four children. Inhofe received a B.A. degree from the University of Tulsa in 1973, at the age of 38. In his business career, Inhofe was a real estate developer and became president of the Quaker Life Insurance Company. That company went into receivership while he managed it; it was liquidated in 1986. Inhofe became active in Oklahoma Republican politics in the mid-1960s. He was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1967 to 1969, and a member of the Oklahoma Senate from 1969 until 1977, the last four of those years as minority leader. During his time in the state senate, he ran twice for election to other positions: for Governor of Oklahoma in 1974, losing to Democrat David Boren, and in 1976, losing a race to represent Oklahoma's First Congressional District (which was based in Tulsa) to incumbent Democrat James R. Jones. He served as mayor of Tulsa from 1978 to 1984. In 1986, when Jones retired, Inhofe made another bid for Congress from the 1st congressional district This time, he won and he continued to serve in Congress from 1987 until 1994, being handily re-elected every two years in what rapidly became a strongly Republican district. He first came to national attention in 1993, when he led the effort to reform the House's Discharge petition rule, which the House leadership had long used to bottle up bills in committee. In 1994, incumbent Sen. David Boren, who had been serving in the Senate since 1979, agreed to become president of the University of Oklahoma and announced he would resign as soon as a successor was elected. Inhofe won the Republican nomination for the November special election and was swept to victory amid a strong Republican tide that saw the Republicans take both houses of Congress and elected the state's second-ever Republican governor. He took office on November 17, his 60th birthday, giving him a bit more Senatorial seniority than the incoming class of senators. After serving the last two years of Boren's term, he won the seat in his own right in 1996 and was re-elected in 2002.


Henry Louis Bellmon
18th Governor of Oklahoma
In office
January 13, 1963  
January 9, 1967


United States Senator
from Oklahoma
In office
1969-1981

23rd Governor of Oklahoma
In office
January 12, 1987  
January 14, 1991

Henry Louis Bellmon (born September 3, 1921) is an American Republican politician from Oklahoma. He was a member of the Oklahoma Legislature, twice the Governor of Oklahoma (the first Republican to hold that office), and a two-term United States Senator. Bellmon was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma and graduated from Billings High School in Billings, Oklahoma. He graduated from Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State University) in 1942 with a Bachelors Degree in agriculture. He was a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946. He was a tank platoon leader in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He took part in four amphibious landings on Pacific islands, including Iwo Jima. For his service, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and a Silver Star. After the war he returned to farming and took up politics. Bellmon served a single term in the Oklahoma legislature (1946-1948). While in the legislature, in January 1947, he married Shirley Osborn, to whom he remained married until her death in 2001. In 1960 he served as the State Republican Party Chairman. Elected in 1962 as Oklahoma's first Republican governor since statehood in 1907, he served his first term from 1963 to 1967. While Governor, he served as the chairman of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission and as a member of the executive committee of the National Governor's Association. Under Oklahoma law at the time, a term limit was in place; he was not able to run for a second term. In 1968, he ran for the U.S. Senate and won, unseating U.S. Senator A.S. Mike Monroney. In the Democratic landslide of 1974, he managed to be reelected over Congrssman Ed Edmondson by a very narrow margin. He did not run for a third term in 1980. At his retirement he was the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. His seat was won by Republican Don Nickles. He was a co-founder and co-chairman of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. He was appointed the interim director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in 1983. In 1986, Oklahoma Republican leaders asked Bellmon if he would consider running for governor again (by now the term limit provision had been removed). Bellmon agreed to run, and in November Oklahoma voters returned Bellmon to the Governor's Mansion for a second term. During his second tenure as Governor he chaired the Southern States Energy Board. After serving the second term, Governor Bellmon chose to not seek reelection. The Oklahoma Constitution only places a two consecutive term limit on the Office of the Governor. It makes no reference to the number of terms a person may serve in total. He was succeeded by Democrat David Walters, whom he had defeated 4 years earlier. Bellmon is notable for overseeing as Governor both last Pre-Furman execution in Oklahoma (when James French was electrocuted in 1966) and first Post-Furman, when Charles Coleman was put to death by lethal injection in 1990. Bellmon returned to his agriculture business interests. Bellmon has also taught at Oklahoma City University, Central State University, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma. A March 1, 2009 profile in The Oklahoman reported that he was living in Kingfisher, Oklahoma with his second wife, Eloise, whom he married in 2002; the article also reported that, despite suffering from Parkinson's Disease and a heart ailment, Bellmon was still operating his family farm in Billings.


Donald Lee Nickles
United States Senator
from Oklahoma

 
In office

January 5, 1981  
January 3, 2005

26th US Senate
Majority Whip

In Office
June 12, 1996
January 3, 2001


28th US Senate
Majority Whip
In Office
January 20, 2001
June 6, 2001

19th US Senate
Minority Whip
In Office
January 3, 2001
January 20, 2001


21st US Senate
Minority Whip
In Office
June 6, 2002
January 3, 2003 

Donald Lee Nickles (born December 6, 1948) is an American businessman and political leader who was a Republican United States Senator from Oklahoma from 1981 until 2005. He was a fiscal and social conservative. Don Nickles was born and raised in Ponca City, Oklahoma, where he attended the public schools. To help pay for their education at Oklahoma State, he and his wife operated a janitorial service (Don Nickles Professional Cleaning Service) in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Oklahoma State University, and earned a BA in business administration in 1971. After college, he went to work for Nickles Machine Corporation in Ponca City, a business started in 1918 by his grandfather, Clair Nickles. He rose to be Vice President and General Manager. He also served in the United States National Guard from 1970 until 1976.  A formative experience was the distress his family suffered following his father's (1961)death, when Nickles was thirteen. They also had to sell off part of the family business raise cash to pay the estate tax due. Encouraged by then-U.S. Senator Dewey F. Bartlett, Nickles ran for the Oklahoma State Senate in 1978 and won. After two years in the State Senate and displeased by the policies of the Carter Administration, Nickles ran for the United States Senate in 1980 to succeed Republican Henry Bellmon who was retiring. As an unknown in a field crowded with business and political bigwigs, Nickles was not initially given much of a chance. Indeed, Bellmon even tried to convince him to wait and run for the House. Utilizing personal contact and passing out unique "wooden nickel" campaign button novelties, Nickles unique grassroot community ties to localAmway distributors throughout Oklahoma gave him an interpersonal network which proved helpful. His platform was based on cutting the size of government, and strong support of tax cuts, and appeal to the prevailing conservative views of Oklahomans proved popular. In 1982 the term Christian right was still unfamiliar, but the movement was active and growing. Nickles beat two well funded oil millionaires (Jack Zink and Ed Noble) in the primary and won the primary run-off against Tulsan Jack Zink, also known as a race car driver. He was later swept into office in the general election against Oklahoma City Mayor Andy Coats on the shoulders of the "Reagan Revolution" of 1980. A front page editorial of the Daily Oklahoman said "Reagan Needs Nickles" and urged his election. At the age of 34, Nickles was the youngest Republican ever elected to the United States Senate. He sponsored legislation to cut taxes, reduce government spending, promote national defense, reduce official hostility to religion. He sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act which outlawed individual states being required to recognize same-sex marriage from other states. As Republican Majority Whip Nickles called for the resignation of fellow Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott after Lott made remarks toasting Strom Thurmond that seemed insensitive to the issue of racial segration.Senator Nickles was one of many Republican senators who in 1981 called into the White House to express his discontent over the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court; Nickles said he and "other profamily Republican senators would not support" O'Connor because of her presumed unwillingness to overturn Roe v. Wade. Nickles quickly rose in the Senate Republican Leadership, serving as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 101st Congress; Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee in the 102nd, 103rd, and 104th Congresses; and Assistant Republican Leader from 1996 to 2003. After being term-limited out of the Assistant Leader position, Nickles served in the 108th Congress as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Nickles was also on Bob Dole's short list of vice presidential choices, before Dole finally decided on former New York Congressman Jack Kemp.In December 2002, Nickles became embroiled in the controversy surrounding Republican Leader Trent Lott. At Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, Lott had made comments that some took to be racially insensitive. As the controversy grew, Nickles went on national television and became the first senator in leadership to say that Lott should step down. Nickles believed that the controversy over Lott's remarks would distract from the Republican Party's legislative agenda, and as he served as Lott's deputy in the Senate this statement was seen as the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back." Lott stepped down shortly thereafter. Declining to run for the position of Senate Majority Leader himself, Nickles stepped aside as Tennessee senator Bill Frist was elevated to the post of Republican Leader. Nickles was re-elected in 1986, 1992 and 1998 and was the senior senator of Oklahoma from 1994 to 2005. 


Thomas Allen  Coburn,

Member of the U.S. 
House of Representatives

from Oklahoma's 2nd
Congressional district
In office
January 4, 1995  
January 3, 2001 

United States Senator
From Oklahoma
Assumed office 
January 3, 2005

Thomas Allen "Tom" Coburn, M.D. (born March 14, 1948), is an American politician and medical doctor. A member of the Republican Party, he currently serves as the junior U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. Coburn was born in Casper, Wyoming to Anita Joy Allen and Orin Wesley Coburn, and graduated with a B.S. in accounting from Oklahoma State University, where he was also a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. In 1968, he married Carolyn Denton; their three daughters are Callie, Katie, and Sarah. After recovering from a case of malignant melanoma Coburn pursued a medical doctorate and graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School in 1983. He then opened a medical practice in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and served as a deacon in a Southern Baptist Church. Coburn is one of only two licensed doctors currently serving in the US Senate. During his career in obstetrics, he has treated over 15,000 patients and delivered 4,000 babies and was subject to one malpractice lawsuit.  In 1994 he ran for the House of Representatives in Oklahoma's Democratic 2nd Congressional District, which was based in Muskogee and included 22 counties in northeastern Oklahoma. Coburn initially expected to face eight-term incumbent Mike Synar. However, Synar was defeated in a runoff for the Democratic nomination by a 71-year-old retired principal, Virgil Cooper. According to Coburn's book Breach of Trust, Coburn and Cooper got along very well and both had a dislike for the liberal Mike Synar. The general election was very cordial since both men knew Synar would not be returning to Washington regardless of the outcome. Coburn won by a 52%?48% margin, becoming the first Republican to represent the district since 1921. Coburn was one of the most conservative members of the House. He supported reducing the size of the federal budget and opposed abortion and supported the proposed V-chip legislation. Despite representing a heavily Democratic district, Coburn was reelected in 1996 (even as Bill Clinton easily carried the district) and 1998 without difficulty. While he served in the House, he earned a reputation as a maverick due to his frequent battles with House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Most of these stand-offs stemmed from his belief that the Republican caucus was moving toward the political left and away from the more conservative "Contract With America" policy proposals that had placed the Republicans into power in Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years. Specifically, Coburn was concerned that the Contract's term limits had not been implemented, and that the Republicans were continuing the excessive federal spending that they had so vigorously opposed when the Democrats were in the majority.Coburn endorsed conservative activist and former diplomat Alan Keyes in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, although he supported George W. Bush after the nomination was sewn up. Coburn's congressional district returned to the Democratic fold, as attorney Brad Carson easily defeated a Republican endorsed by Coburn. After leaving the House and returning to private medical practice, Coburn wrote a book in 2003, with ghostwriter John Hart, about his experiences in Congress called Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders. The book detailed Coburn's perspective on the internal Republican Party debates over the "Contract With America" and displayed his disdain for career politicians. Some of the figures he criticized (such as Gingrich) were already out of office at the time of publishing, but others (such as former House Speaker Dennis Hastert) remained very influential in Congress, which resulted in speculation that some congressional Republicans wanted no part of Coburn's return to politics. In 2004, Coburn chose to challenge the establishment Republican candidate for the open Senate seat being vacated by Don Nickles. Former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys (the favorite of the state and national Republican establishment) and Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony joined the field before Coburn. However, Coburn easily won the primary with 61% of the vote over Humphreys' 25%. In the general election, he faced Brad Carson, a Democrat who had succeeded him in the 2nd District who was giving up his seat after only two terms. During the Senate campaign, Coburn said that the "homosexual agenda" was the biggest threat to American freedom. Coburn emphasized fighting pork and corruption in Washington. His focus on cutting spending and his reputation for fighting the practice of awarding federal dollars to special interest causes won him many supporters who disagreed with him on other issues.He also promised to maintain his medical practice in Muskogee and return there during the weekend as he had while serving in the House.  In the election, Coburn won by a margin of 53% to Carson's 42%. While Carson routed Coburn in the heavily Democratic 2nd District, Coburn swamped Carson in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area and the closer-in Tulsa suburbs. Coburn won the state's two largest counties, Tulsa and Oklahoma, by a combined 86,000 votes ? more than half of his overall margin of 166,000 votes.  Coburn's Senate voting record is as conservative as his House record. He received a perfect 100% rating from the American Conservative Union for the year 2005. Coburn has a reputation for stalling measures in the Senate, to the chagrin of members of both major parties and many people outside of Oklahoma.


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