Politics

Dick Clark, Iowan Who Walked 1,300 Miles for a Senate Seat, Dies at 95

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Dick Clark, a long-shot Senate candidate who gained his race with a 1,300-mile trek round Iowa, then used his single time period on Capitol Hill to push United States international coverage to the left within the aftermath of the Vietnam Struggle, died on Wednesday at his dwelling in Washington. He was 95.

His daughter, Julie Clark Mendoza, introduced the dying.

Mr. Clark was a congressional aide to John Culver, who was gearing as much as run towards the favored Republican incumbent, Jack Miller, within the 1972 Senate race. Mr. Clark was an skilled in grass-roots organizing, and he spent months touring the state, laying the groundwork for his boss.

When Mr. Culver determined that the percentages towards him have been too nice, Mr. Clark introduced that he would run as a substitute. The chances he confronted have been equally nice, if not steeper: One ballot, taken in Could 1972, confirmed him with simply 20 % of the vote.

Mr. Clark determined to take a stroll. Mr. Miller had gained every of Iowa’s 99 counties in 1966, regardless of having a repute for being out of contact and awkward. Mr. Clark got down to go to as a lot of these counties as he may, on foot.

Hitting the open street was one thing of a cultural theme through the early Nineteen Seventies, and Mr. Clark’s trek shortly drew consideration. Newspapers and tv stations tracked his progress, and farmers, townspeople and metropolis dwellers turned out to see him as he handed by, stopping to shake arms and provides impromptu speeches. Some would even be part of him for a mile or two.

“On the street, I didn’t current myself as a liberal,” he instructed The New York Occasions in 1973. “I merely launched myself to folks one after the other, and requested them what was on their minds.”

Over the months main as much as the November election, Mr. Clark logged some 1,300 miles. His plan labored: He trounced Mr. Miller, 55 % to 45 %, in a yr when President Richard M. Nixon, operating for re-election, simply carried the state.

Mr. Clark made probably the most of his single six-year time period, from 1973 to 1979. One of many Senate’s most liberal members, he was among the many main figures in Capitol Hill’s left activate international coverage within the mid-Nineteen Seventies. He supported human rights, Vietnamese refugees and the 1977 Panama Canal Treaty, which set in movement America’s return of the canal to Panamanian possession.

In 1974 he joined the Overseas Relations Committee and assumed the chairmanship of its subcommittee on African affairs. A lot of his predecessors had thought-about the function a hardship submit and moved on shortly; Mr. Clark made Africa the main target of the remainder of his time period.

He traveled incessantly to the continent, visiting newly unbiased international locations like Mozambique and Angola.

He was sitting on a industrial aircraft getting ready to take off from Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), when armed males stormed aboard and eliminated him.

They whisked him to an unscheduled assembly with Mobutu Sese Seko, the nation’s dictator. The 2 males spoke briefly, and Mr. Clark then stated he was going to overlook his flight.

“The flight is not going to depart,” he recalled Mr. Mobutu saying, “till I inform it to.”

In South Africa in 1976, Mr. Clark spent two hours assembly with Black college students in Soweto, a poor Johannesburg suburb the place nonwhites have been relegated beneath apartheid. He additionally met with the Black journalist and activist Steve Biko, lower than a yr earlier than law enforcement officials beat him to dying in custody.

Again in Washington, Mr. Clark pushed for extra international help to sub-Saharan Africa. He additionally wrote the Clark Modification, which reduce off American funding for personal navy teams concerned within the Angolan civil conflict, a Chilly Struggle proxy battle during which the US and South Africa supported forces against the nation’s Soviet-backed authorities.

For his re-election bid, in 1978, Mr. Clark as soon as extra took to the highways and byways of Iowa, however this time it wasn’t sufficient. In a yr that noticed a number of liberal senators fall, he narrowly misplaced to the Republican candidate, Roger Jepsen, a former lieutenant governor.

The driving difficulty within the race was abortion, which was reshuffling American politics within the wake of the Supreme Courtroom’s Roe v. Wade resolution in 1973. Mr. Clark supported federal funds for abortion entry, and Iowa anti-abortion activists made defeating him their No. 1 precedence through the 1978 midterms.

However there was one other issue at play. By means of a secret slush fund, the South African authorities was funneling cash into a world propaganda marketing campaign meant to undermine its critics — together with $250,000 to help Mr. Jepsen.

Mr. Jepsen derided Mr. Clark as “the senator from Africa” through the marketing campaign. However he denied understanding concerning the South African cash, which was revealed in 1979 by Eschel Roodie, South Africa’s former chief propagandist.

After his loss, Mr. Clark served briefly as President Jimmy Carter’s ambassador for refugee affairs. He then labored on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s 1980 presidential marketing campaign and later joined the Aspen Institute, the place he served as a senior fellow.

Richard Clarence Clark was born on Sept. 14, 1928, on a farm in Paris, Iowa, an unincorporated group about 20 miles north of Cedar Rapids, within the jap a part of the state. His mother and father, Clarence and Bernice (Anderson) Clark, owned a grocery retailer in close by Lamont, the place the household moved when Dick was younger.

Dick served within the Military in Europe from 1950 to 1952, throughout which era he took school extension programs. He obtained a bachelor’s diploma from Higher Iowa College in 1953 and a grasp’s diploma in historical past from the College of Iowa in 1956.

His first marriage, to Jean Gross, led to divorce. He married Julie Kennett in 1977. Along with his daughter, his spouse survives him, as do his son, Thomas; his stepson, Robert Kennett Marshall; three grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.

Mr. Clark taught at each his alma maters earlier than becoming a member of Mr. Culver’s workplace in 1965.

Maybe impressed by Mr. Clark’s success, Mr. Culver efficiently ran for Iowa’s different Senate seat in 1974, becoming a member of his former aide — who now, as Iowa’s senior senator, outranked him.

Mr. Culver additionally served only one time period. He misplaced in 1980 to Charles E. Grassley, who nonetheless holds that seat at the moment.