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Don Nickles

Don Nickles
United States Senator
from Oklahoma
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Henry Bellmon
Succeeded by Tom Coburn
Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Kent Conrad
Succeeded by Judd Gregg
Senate Minority Whip
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Leader Trent Lott
Preceded by Harry Reid
Succeeded by Harry Reid
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2001
Leader Trent Lott
Preceded by Harry Reid
Succeeded by Harry Reid
Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
Leader Trent Lott
Preceded by Harry Reid
Succeeded by Harry Reid
In office
June 12, 1996 – January 3, 2001
Leader Trent Lott
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by Harry Reid
Member of the Oklahoma Senate from Ponca City
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1981
Personal details
Born Donald Lee Nickles
(1948-12-06) December 6, 1948
Ponca City, Oklahoma
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Linda Lou Morrison Nickles
Children Four children
Alma mater Oklahoma State University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Donald Lee "Don" Nickles (born December 6, 1948) is an American politician who was a Republican United States Senator from Oklahoma from 1981 until 2005. He was considered both a fiscal and a social conservative. After the Senate, he founded The Nickles Group, a lobbying firm.[1]

Contents

  • Early life 1
  • U.S. Senate 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
    • Leadership 2.3
  • Post Senate career 3
  • References 4
  • Other sources 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Don Nickles was born and reared in Ponca City, Oklahoma, where he attended public schools. To help pay for their education at Oklahoma State University, he and his wife, the former Linda Lou Morrison, operated Don Nickles Professional Cleaning Service in Stillwater. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Oklahoma State University, and earned a Bachelor of Arts 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 became the company's vice president and general manager. He also served in the Oklahoma National Guard from 1970 until 1976.[2][3][4][5][6]

A formative experience was the distress his family suffered following his father's death in 1961, when Nickles was thirteen. They had to sell off part of the family business to raise cash to pay the required estate tax.[7][8][9]

U.S. Senate

Elections

Encouraged by then-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 the retiring two-term Republican, Henry Bellmon. 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 to run instead for the United States House of Representatives.

Utilizing personal contact and passing out unique "wooden nickel" campaign button novelties, Nickles unique ties to local Amway distributors throughout Oklahoma gave him an interpersonal network which proved helpful. His platform was based on cutting the size of government, strong support of tax cuts, and his 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 Zink, who was also well 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. At the age of thirty-one, Nickles was the youngest Republican ever elected to the United States Senate.

Tenure

He sponsored legislation to cut taxes, reduce government spending, promote national defense, and reduce what he believed to be official hostility to religion. He sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act which gave states the option to not recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states. As Republican Whip, Nickles called for the resignation of fellow Republican Trent Lott as Majority Leader after Lott made remarks toasting Strom Thurmond that seemed insensitive to the issue of racial segregation. The National Federation of Independent Business praised Nickles for including in the Senate's 2005 budget a provision that would accelerate by one year complete repeal of the federal estate tax[10] Nickles was one of many Republican senators who in 1981 called the White House to express his discontent over the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona to the United States Supreme Court. Nickles said that he and other socially conservative Republican senators would not support O'Connor because of her "presumed unwillingness" to overturn the abortion decision, Roe v. Wade.[11]

During a 1986 campaign rally at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, President Reagan accidentally called him Don Rickles, the American comedian. The president was later told about his mistake and found it very amusing.[12]

Leadership

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 Congressman Jack Kemp of New York.

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 the Republican leadership to say that Lott should step down. Nickles believed that the controversy over Lott's remarks would distract from the Republican 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." Despite many apologies for his remarks, Lott stepped down shortly thereafter. Declining to run for the position of Senate Majority Leader himself, Lott was succeeded by Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Nickles was re-elected in 1986, 1992 and 1998 and was the senior senator from Oklahoma from 1994 to 2005.

Post Senate career

On October 7, 2003, he announced that he would not run in the 2004 election.[13] Republican Tom Coburn was elected to succeed Nickles.

Nickles went on to found The Nickles Group, a government consulting group in Washington, D.C.. He also serves on the board of directors of a number of public companies, such as Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy.[14]

He was one of the politicians featured in the movie Traffic giving his opinion on the war on drugs.

Nickles and his wife, Linda, have four children and several grandchildren.

References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC Document Number: K1650002027
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Greenburg, Jan Crawford. Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court.2007. Penguin Books. Page 222.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

Other sources

  • "Nickles, McCaleb Try to Sabotage Oklahoma Amtrak Service, Opt for Yugo Rather Than Cadillac." Oklahoma State Senate. Communications Division, State Capitol. May 24, 1999.
  • Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1996. Alexandria, Va.: CQ Staff Directories, 1997.
  • "Donald Nickles." Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989.
  • Congressional Directory, 106th Congress, 1999–2000. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999.
  • Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America 2000, The 106th Congress. Philip D. Duncan and Brian Nutting, eds. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1999.
  • Who's Who in American Politics, 1997–1998. Marquis Who's Who, 1997.

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Henry Bellmon
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Oklahoma
1981–2005
Served alongside: David L. Boren, James Inhofe
Succeeded by
Tom Coburn
Party political offices
Preceded by
Henry Bellmon
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Oklahoma
(Class 3)

1980, 1986, 1992, 1998
Succeeded by
Tom Coburn
Preceded by
Rudy Boschwitz
Minnesota
Chairman of National Republican Senatorial Committee
1989–1991
Succeeded by
Phil Gramm
Texas
Preceded by
William L. Armstrong
Colorado
Chairman of Senate Republican Policy Committee
1991–1996
Succeeded by
Larry Craig
Idaho
Preceded by
Trent Lott
Mississippi
Senate Republican Whip
1996–2003
Succeeded by
Mitch McConnell
Kentucky
Political offices
Preceded by
Trent Lott
Mississippi
Senate Majority Whip
1996–2001
Succeeded by
Harry Reid
Nevada
Preceded by
Harry Reid
Nevada
Senate Minority Whip
2001–2003
Succeeded by
Harry Reid
Nevada
Preceded by
Kent Conrad
North Dakota
Chairman of Senate Budget Committee
2003–2005
Succeeded by
Judd Gregg
New Hampshire
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Bill Bradley
Youngest Member of the United States Senate
1981–1993
Succeeded by
Russ Feingold
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