Fred R. Harris
name = Fred Roy Harris
jr/sr = United States Senator
November 4, 1964
January 3, 1973
J. Howard Edmondson
Dewey F. Bartlett
order2 = 32nd Democratic National Committee Chairman
term_start2 = 1969
term_end2 = 1970
Lawrence F. O'Brien
Lawrence F. O'Brien
birth_date = birth date and age|1930|11|13
Cotton County, Oklahoma
party = Democrat
Fred Roy Harris (born
November 13, 1930, in Cotton County, Oklahoma) is an American attorney, politician, and professor. Harris served nine years as a Democratic senator from Oklahoma, and was chairman of the Democratic National Committeefrom 1969 to 1970. He is currently professor emeritus of political scienceat the University of New Mexico.
Harris earned a bachelor's degree from the
University of Oklahomain 1952 and graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Lawin 1954. He was first elected to the Oklahoma State Senatein 1956, at age 26, and he held the seat until 1964. In 1962, Harris ran for governor. Though he lost the race, Harris succeeded in introducing himself to voters throughout the state.
In 1964, Oklahoma held an election to fill the last two years of
Robert S. Kerr's Senate term. Kerr died in office in January 1963 and J. Howard Edmondsonresigned as Oklahoma governor four days later, which enabled the succeeding governor, George Nigh, to appoint Edmondson to fill the vacancy until an election, meaning Edmondson had served almost two years as an appointed official. Harris, with the support of the Kerr family and others, challenged Edmondson in the Democratic primary, which Harris won handily.
In the general election, Harris faced Republican
Bud Wilkinson, who led the Oklahoma Soonersfootball team to three national championships in the 1950s. Wilkinson was a household name in Oklahoma; coupled with the state's conservative population, Wilkinson was a formidable candidate. With the help of Lyndon B. Johnson, a seasoned campaigner who was fighting for a full term, Harris won a narrow victory over Wilkinson to keep the state as a Democratic hold. To give Harris valuable seniority in the Senate, Edmondson resigned when the election was certified so Harris could be sworn in as soon as possible.
Harris was elected to a full Senate term in 1966. During this term, he served as chairman of the
Democratic National Committeefor a year, preceded and succeeded by Larry O'Brien. Harris was also on the short list for Vice-President in 1968, although Hubert Humphreyeventually chose Edmund Muskieof Mainefor the slot.
Instead of seeking another Senate term in 1972, Harris chose to run for President. He aborted that campaign early, but in 1975 he announced that he would seek the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination. To keep expenses down, he travelled the country in an RV and stayed in private homes, giving his hosts a card which was to be redeemable for one night's stay in the
White Houseupon his election. Oklahoma began its existence as Indian Territory, and Harris placed unusual emphasis on issues affecting Native Americans. His wife, LaDonna, who was nominated for Vice President by the short-lived Citizens Party in 1980, is of Native American ancestry.
Harris' positions on issues were largely liberal, which appealed to the Democratic Party activists who nominated
George McGovernfor president in 1972. Those views had considerably less charm for major party contributors, who observed McGovern's 49-state landslide defeat four years earlier. The Democrats with the open pocketbooks were looking for a candidate who seemed more electable, Harris's underfunded campaign soon faltered. ArizonaRepresentative Morris Udallsplit the populist votes, and the nomination and eventual November victory went to former governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter, who ran as a moderate.
After the 1976 election, Harris left politics and joined the political science faculty at the University of New Mexico in 1977. He has authored several textbooks on politics and public policy, and he has written three novels. Currently, Harris is
professor emeritusof political science at the University of New Mexico and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma.
In 2008 Harris endorsed
Barack Obamafor President [http://www.kvia.com/Global/story.asp?S=7763323&nav=AbC0] . As former DNC Chair he is a superdelegateto the Democratic National Convention.
* cite book| last =Harris| first =Fred| title = Deadlock or decision: the U. S. Senate and the rise of national politics| publisher =Oxford University Prss
year = 1993| location =New York| isbn =0195080254
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