Alan Cranston

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Alan Cranston
AlanCranston.jpg
Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Frank Murkowski
Succeeded by Jay Rockefeller
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Vance Hartke
Succeeded by Alan K. Simpson
Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1991
Leader Robert Byrd
George Mitchell
Preceded by Alan K. Simpson
Succeeded by Wendell Ford
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1981
Leader Robert Byrd
Preceded by Robert Byrd
Succeeded by Ted Stevens
Senate Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
Leader Robert Byrd
Preceded by Ted Stevens
Succeeded by Alan K. Simpson
United States Senator
from California
In office
January 3, 1969 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Thomas Kuchel
Succeeded by Barbara Boxer
25th Controller of California
In office
January 5, 1959 – January 2, 1967
Governor Pat Brown
Preceded by Robert C. Kirkwood
Succeeded by Houston I. Flournoy
Personal details
Born Alan MacGregor Cranston
(1914-06-19)June 19, 1914
Palo Alto, California, U.S.
Died December 31, 2000(2000-12-31) (aged 86)
Los Altos, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Geneva McMath (Divorced)
Norma Weintraub (Divorced)
Education Pomona College
Stanford University (BA)

Alan MacGregor Cranston (June 19, 1914 – December 31, 2000) was an American politician and journalist who served as a United States Senator from California, from 1969 to 1993.

Born in Palo Alto, California, Cranston worked as a journalist after graduating from Stanford University. After serving as California State Controller, Cranston won election to the Senate in 1968. He became the Senate Democratic Whip in 1977 and held that position until 1991. In 1984, Cranston sought the Democratic presidential nomination, advocating a nuclear freeze during the later stages of the Cold War. He dropped out after the first set of primaries.

In 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded Cranston for his role in the savings and loan crisis as a member of the Keating Five. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, he decided not to run for a fifth term. After his retirement from the Senate, he served as president of the Global Security Institute and advocated for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.

Personal life and education

Cranston was born in Palo Alto, California, the son of Carol (née Dixon) and William MacGregor Cranston. He attended Pomona College for one year, studied abroad for a summer at the National Autonomous University of Mexico before graduating from Stanford University in 1936 with a degree in English.[1][2]

Cranston was born into a well-to-do family from Northern California with interests in real estate. He married and divorced twice. His first wife, Geneva McMath, was the mother of his sons, Robin, who died young in an auto accident, and Kim, who survived him. Cranston was later married to Norma Weintraub.[3]

Early career

Cranston was a correspondent for the International News Service for two years preceding World War II.[4] When an abridged English-language translation of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf was released, sanitized to exclude some of Hitler's anti-semitism and militancy, Cranston published a different translation (with annotations) which he believed more accurately reflected the contents of the book. In 1939, Hitler's publisher sued him for copyright violation in Connecticut; a judge ruled in Hitler's favor and publication of the book was halted.

Before enlisting in the armed forces in 1944 as a private (he held the rank of sergeant at his discharge), he worked as an editor and writer for the magazine Common Ground and later worked in the Office of War Information. The following year he wrote a second book, The Killing of the Peace, a synopsis of the failed bid to get the United States to join the League of Nations immediately following World War I.

Cranston, a supporter of world government, attended the 1945 conference that led to the Dublin Declaration, and became president of the World Federalist Association in 1948.[5] He successfully pushed for his state's legislature to pass the 1949 World Federalist California Resolution, calling on Congress to amend the Constitution to allow U.S. participation in a federal world government. Also in the late 1940s, Cranston began his longstanding opposition to nuclear weapons.[6]

In 1952, Cranston co-founded the California Democratic Council (CDC), and served as chairman. Since that time, the CDC has served as an unofficial coalition of local Democratic clubs that coordinate electoral activities and activism throughout California. The CDC provided substantial support to Cranston in his bid for State Controller in 1958 and his numerous runs for the U.S. Senate.

Public office

State Controller

A Democrat, Cranston was elected California State Controller in 1958 and re-elected in 1962, and defeated for reelection in 1966.

Senator

In 1968, he was elected to the first of four six-year terms United States Senate, defeating Republican Max Rafferty in the general election after the staunchly conservative Rafferty had defeated the liberal Republican incumbent, Thomas Kuchel, in that party's primary.

The general election itself was also marred by mudslinging. A conservative writer, Frank Capell, authored a pamphlet suggesting that Cranston may have had Communist leanings in his youth, and that during his stint at the Office of War Information he helped falsely convince Franklin D. Roosevelt that Nazi Germany had perpetrated the Katyń massacre. Many of the same allegations were recycled in an article that ran in American Opinion in 1974 entitled "Alan Cranston: The Shadow in the Senate". (The article's title was a reference to Lamont Cranston, the name of the main character in the popular radio program The Shadow).

In 1974, Cranston defeated Republican H.L. "Bill" Richardson, a conservative state senator previously affiliated with the John Birch Society. Cranston polled 3,693,160 votes (60.5 percent) to Richardson's 2,210,267 (36.2 percent).

In 1980, Cranston defeated Republican Paul Gann, 4,705,399 (56.5 percent) to 3,093,426 (37.1 percent). His 1980 reelection campaign was notable for a July 31 benefit that would be the last concert The Eagles played at together for 14 years. During the event Cranston's wife thanked Eagles guitarist Don Felder for performing, to which Felder reportedly replied, "You're welcome...I guess." Bandmate Glenn Frey took exception to Felder's comment, leading to onstage bickering and the breakup of the band immediately following the concert.[7][8]

The New York Times characterized him as a "bald, craggy-looking, none-too-charismatic man."[9]

Cranston was elected again in 1986 defeating Republican nominee Congressman Ed Zschau.

Presidential candidate

Cranston (right) with Vice-President Walter Mondale, 20 September 1977

Cranston was Democratic Whip from 1977 to 1991.

He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination for the 1984 election. He became the first announced candidate on February 1, 1983. Despite his age (69) and appearance that seemed even older (he dyed his little remaining white hair a color that most called orange[10]), Cranston quickly became a recognized candidate. His strong support for a nuclear freeze won him an intense following among anti-nuclear activists, support that translated into campaign donations, committed staff (future Washington Senator Maria Cantwell moved to the state in 1983 to head up Cranston's caucus campaign effort there) and volunteers and straw poll victories in Wisconsin, California, and Alabama. However, the entry of George McGovern into the race in September 1983 cut into Cranston's support. He finished a weak fourth in Iowa in February 1984 and dropped out a week later after finishing seventh out of eight candidates in New Hampshire, with only 2 percent of the vote.

Cranston also faced a campaign debt of $2 million from his 1984 run as he began gearing up for an expensive and tough re-election fight in 1986, when he narrowly defeated the liberal Republican U.S. Representative Ed Zschau, who later left the Republican Party.

Reprimand

Cranston was reprimanded by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics for "improper conduct" on November 20, 1991, after Lincoln Savings head Charles Keating's companies contributed $850,000 to voter registration groups closely affiliated with the senator. Keating had wanted federal regulators to stop "hounding" his savings and loan association. Although the committee found that "no evidence was presented to the Committee that Senator Cranston ever agreed to help Mr. Keating in return for a contribution," the committee deemed Cranston's misconduct the worst among the Keating Five. Cranston decided against running for a fifth term while he battled prostate cancer.

Track and field

Throughout his public life, Cranston was notable for practicing and participating in the sport of track and field as a sprinter in special senior races. Many of the events, races for senior sprinters at major track meets, were the early events that became the sport of masters athletics. While on his many political trips, Cranston would spend time sprinting in long hotel hallways to maintain his fitness.[11]

Retirement and death

He dedicated his retirement to the global abolition of nuclear weapons, first through the Nuclear Weapon Elimination Initiative of the State of the World Forum, and then as President of the Global Security Institute, which he founded in 1999.[12]

He lived in Los Altos, California, from his retirement until his death on December 31, 2000.

See also

References

  1. ^ Alan Cranston Biography - Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline
  2. ^ Alan Cranston Memorial Tributes and Addresses
  3. ^ "Alan Cranston, Former U.S. Senator, Is Dead at 86". The New York Times. January 1, 2001. 
  4. ^ Farrell, Harry (November 21, 1999). "Out of the limelight, former U.S. Sen. Cranston fights a battle for peace". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on August 15, 2000. 
  5. ^ About the Democratic World Federalists Archived 2007-09-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Jonathan Schell (January 4, 2001). "Alan Cranston". The Nation. 
  7. ^ "The 10 Messiest Band Breakups". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Ellwood, Alsion (Director) (January 19, 2013). History of the Eagles Part One (Documentary). Showtime. 
  9. ^ "Alan Cranston, Former U.S. Senator, Is Dead at 86". New York Times. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Reed, Christopher (2 January 2001). "Obituaries: Alan Cranston". The Guardian 
  11. ^ [1] Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Bock, Alan: Eye on the Empire, Antiwar.com.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert C. Kirkwood
Controller of California
1959–1967
Succeeded by
Houston I. Flournoy
Party political offices
Preceded by
Richard Richards
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from California
(Class 3)

1968, 1974, 1980, 1986
Succeeded by
Barbara Boxer
Preceded by
Robert Byrd
Senate Democratic Whip
1977–1991
Succeeded by
Wendell Ford
Vacant
Title last held by
Ted Stevens
John Rhodes
Response to the State of the Union address
1982
Served alongside: Robert Byrd, Al Gore, Gary Hart, Bennett Johnston, Ted Kennedy, Tip O'Neill, Don Riegle, Paul Sarbanes, Jim Sasser
Succeeded by
Les AuCoin, Joe Biden, Bill Bradley, Robert Byrd, Tom Daschle, Bill Hefner, Barbara B. Kennelly, George Miller, Tip O'Neill, Paul Tsongas, Tim Wirth
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Thomas Kuchel
United States Senator (Class 3) from California
1969–1993
Served alongside: George Murphy, John V. Tunney, S. I. Hayakawa, Pete Wilson, John F. Seymour, Dianne Feinstein
Succeeded by
Barbara Boxer
Preceded by
Robert Byrd
Senate Majority Whip
1977–1981
Succeeded by
Ted Stevens
Preceded by
Vance Hartke
Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
1977–1981
Succeeded by
Alan K. Simpson
Preceded by
Ted Stevens
Senate Majority Whip
1981–1987
Preceded by
Alan K. Simpson
Senate Majority Whip
1987–1991
Succeeded by
Wendell Ford
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
1987–1993
Succeeded by
Jay Rockefeller
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