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  Church, Frank
<-  1975-01-01  
NameFrank Church
Boise, Idaho , United States
Born July 25, 1924
DiedApril 07, 1984 (59 years)
ContributorSummer Intern
Last ModifedRob Ritchie
Jan 02, 2018 08:20am
Tags Caucasian - Liberal - Government Reform - Health Care Reform - Internationalist - Jobs/Industrial Growth - Pro Environment - Pro- gun - Pro-Affirmative Action - Pro-Labor - Married - Cancer - U.S. Army - Presbyterian -
Infoborn in Boise, Ada County, Idaho, July 25, 1924; attended the public schools; was graduated from Stanford (Calif.) University in 1947 and from Stanford Law School in 1950; during the Second World War served in the United States Army and was assigned to Military Intelligence in India, Burma, and China 1942-1946; was admitted to the bar in 1950 and commenced the practice of law in Boise, Idaho; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1956; reelected in 1962, 1968, and again in 1974 and served from January 3, 1957, to January 3, 1981; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1980; chairman, Special Committee on Aging (Ninety-second through Ninety-fifth Congresses), Special Committee on Termination of the National Emergency (Ninety-second through Ninety-fourth Congresses), Select Committee on Government Intelligence Activities (Ninety-fourth Congress), Committee on Foreign Relations (Ninety-sixth Congress); United States delegate to the twenty-first General Assembly of the United Nations; resumed the practice of law; was a resident of Bethesda, Md., until his death(caused by cancer) there on April 7, 1984; interment in Morris Hill Cemetery, Boise, Idaho.


Frank Church, a Democrat who was a U.S. senator from 1957-81 and who had idolized Senator William E. Borah in his boyhood, was a major figure, but he did not build the Democratic Party in Idaho as some other senators have done (though, as earlier noted, he certainly did change its direction). In the same period, when Edmund Muskie in Maine and George McGovern in South Dakota, among others, built durable Democratic organizations in their states, Church, ironically, wound up partially dismantling his.

Church�s first major race, in 1956, was for the Senate, and in it he faced both a former senator in the primary and an incumbent Republican senator in the general election. He only narrowly beat the former senator, Glen Taylor (a result Taylor bitterly disputed for the rest of his life), and in doing that had to run against the �left� of his party. With the help of the Tom Boise-based Democratic organization, he did defeat incumbent Republican Herman Welker, who was by then increasingly disabled (though it was at the time wrongly assumed to be alcoholism) by a brain tumor and the decline of the McCarthyism with which he�d identified himself.

Like Senator William E. Borah, Church became an international figure and eventually chair of the Foreign Relations Committee and also like him (and exactly 40 years afterward) ran unsuccessfully for president, in 1976. To a greater degree � in part perhaps because winning and retaining office is harder in Idaho for a Democrat than for a Republican � he paid close attention to his home state. He worked on numerous home-grown projects and was a key figure behind the development of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory as well as a number of federal lands activities (including wilderness and national recreation area designations).

Even so, and again like Senator William E. Borah, it was thought that Church had become distanced from the state by the end of his Senate career � one of the factors that may have led to his defeat in 1980. And there was yet another parallel: Church�s relations with his party�s mainstream organization, like Senator William E. Borah�s with his, eventually soured. The difference is that in the Republican case, the party organization continued unabated, while the Democrats folded.

Church and Andrus virtually became the Democratic Party, and most of the more conservative parts of the party dropped out or joined the Republicans.

Sources: Congressional Biography, Idaho Encyclopedia


Title Purchase Contributor

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor
Sep 29, 2009 10:00am Obituary Forrest Church dies of cancer at age 61  Article Thomas Walker 
Mar 16, 2006 10:00pm General Historical society honors Church's presidential bid  Article Thomas Walker 

Importance? 8.20000 Average

Wife Bethine Clark Church Jun 21, 1947-Apr 07, 1984
Father In-Law Chase Clark 1883-1966

Frank Church 1976 Presidential Announcement Address  Discuss
  11/04/1980 ID US Senate Lost 48.78% (-0.97%)
  07/15/1976 US President - D Convention Lost 0.63% (-73.85%)
  07/15/1976 US Vice President - D Convention Lost 0.37% (-93.91%)
  07/01/1976 US President - D Primaries Lost 5.22% (-33.97%)
  11/05/1974 ID US Senate Won 56.07% (+13.93%)
  08/06/1974 ID US Senate - D Primary Won 85.77% (+71.54%)
  07/13/1972 US Vice President - D Convention Lost 0.03% (-59.04%)
  11/05/1968 ID US Senate Won 60.26% (+20.53%)
  11/06/1962 ID US Senate Won 54.74% (+9.48%)
  11/06/1956 ID US Senate Won 56.20% (+17.46%)
  08/14/1956 ID US Senate - D Primary Won 37.75% (+0.27%)
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Dec 17, 1975 R John Paul Stevens
US Secretary of the Interior - Jun 11, 1975 R Stanley K. Hathaway
CIA Director - Sep 04, 1973 NPA Reject
US President - D Primaries - Jun 06, 1972 D George S. McGovern
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Dec 15, 1971 NPA Reject
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Dec 09, 1971 D Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - May 17, 1970 R Harry Blackmun
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Apr 08, 1970 NPA Reject
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Nov 21, 1969 NPA Reject
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Aug 30, 1967 D Thurgood Marshall