Jim Sasser: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Ralph Sasser


In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Bill Brock
Succeeded by Bill Frist

In office
February 14 1996 – July 1 1999
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by J. Stapleton Roy
Succeeded by Joseph Prueher

Born September 30, 1936 (1936-09-30) (age 73)
Memphis, Tennessee
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Sasser
Religion Baptist

James Ralph Sasser (Chinese: 尚慕杰; Pinyin: Shàng Mùjié; born September 30, 1936) is an American politician and attorney. A Democrat, Sasser served three terms as a United States Senator from Tennessee (1977–1995) and was Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. From 1995 to 1999, during the Clinton Administration, he was the United States Ambassador to the People's Republic of China.

Contents

Early life and career

James Ralph Sasser was born in Memphis, Tennessee on September 30, 1936. He attended public schools in Nashville. Sasser attended the University of Tennessee from 1954 to 1955, where he joined the Lambda Chapter of the [Kappa Sigma Fraternity]. He earned his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in 1958; followed by his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1961. He was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1961 and began practicing law in Nashville.

From 1957 to 1963, Sasser served in the the United States Marine Corps Reserves.[1]

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Jim Sasser was a long time Democratic activist, manager of Albert Gore, Sr.'s unsuccessful 1970 reelection campaign. A lawyer by trade, Sasser sought election in his own right and won his party's 1976 nomination for the Senate. He defeated, among others, Nashville entrepreneur and attorney John Jay Hooker, then still considered to be a serious candidate due to his strong personality, his (intermittent) wealth, and his connections with the Nashville Tennessean's controlling Seigenthaler family. His son Gray Sasser, also a lawyer, is the past chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Senate Campaigns

Advertisements

1976 Election

Upon winning his party's Senate nomination, Sasser set out to attack the record of one-term incumbent Sen. Bill Brock, heir to a Chattanooga candy fortune. Sasser emphasized Brock's connections to former President Richard M. Nixon and his use of income tax code provisions that had, despite his great wealth and considerable income, resulted in his paying less than $2,000 in income tax the previous year. Sasser was able to capitalize on the tax issue by pointing out that Brock had paid less than many Tennesseans of considerably more modest means.

Sasser's campaign was also greatly aided by the efforts of ex-Senator Gore. Brock had defeated the elder Gore for the Senate in 1970 largely upon the basis of Gore's support for civil rights, his friendship with the Kennedy political family, and his opposition to the Vietnam War. Sasser won rather handily over Brock, and went on to serve three Senate terms.

Re-election, 1982 and 1988

He turned back a serious effort against him by five-term United States Representative Robin Beard very handily in 1982. That showing was so impressive that his 1988 Republican opponent was a virtual political unknown named Bill Andersen, whose underfunded, essentially token campaign never stood a chance.

Senate accomplishments

With the retirement of Senator Lawton Chiles in 1989, Sasser became Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. In that role, he served as a key ally of Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell of Maine. Sasser helped negotiate the 1990 budget summit agreement with President George H. W. Bush. And in 1993, he engineered passage of President Bill Clinton's first budget, which reduced the deficit by $500 billion dollars over 10 years[2][3] but passed without any Republican votes.

With this success under his belt, began to work his way upward in the party leadership. When Leader Mitchell announced his intention to retire, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that upon his re-election in 1994 Sasser would be the new majority leader.

1994 campaign

There were two unforeseen events that negated this scenario. One was the large scale of discontent that the American people seemed to have toward the first two years of the Clinton administration, especially the proposal for a national health-care system largely put together and advocated by Clinton's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The other was the somewhat unexpected nomination of Nashville heart transplant surgeon William H. Frist for the seat by the Republicans.

Frist was a political unknown and a total novice (who never voted until he was 36) at campaigning, but was from one of Nashville's most prominent and wealthiest medical families, which gave him name recognition (in the Nashville area, at least), and resources adequate to match the campaign war chest built up by a typical three-term incumbent, a challenge most "insurgent" candidates find to be impossible. A further factor working to Frist's advantage was a simultaneous Republican campaign by actor and attorney Fred Thompson for the other Tennessee Senate seat, which came open when Al Gore had resigned to become Vice President of the United States. To an extent, Frist was able to bask in the reflected glory of this formidable stage presence, and additionally developed some campaigning skills, which were almost totally absent in the early stages of his campaign. Another factor in Frist's favor was that Sasser was never seen as possessing much charisma of his own. During the campaign Nashville radio stations were derisive towards Sasser to the point of stating that he could only win "a Kermit The Frog lookalike contest." In one of the largest upsets in a night of political upsets in the November 1994 U.S. general elections, Frist defeated the 16 years older incumbent Sasser by approximately 14 percentage points.

Ambassador to China

Sasser went on to serve as ambassador to China during the period of alleged nuclear spying and the campaign finance controversy that involved possible efforts by China to influence domestic U.S. politics during the Clinton Administration. Sasser again gained media attention when the U.S. Embassy in Beijing was besieged after U.S. warplanes mistakenly bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the U.S. intervention in the Kosovo War. Shortly after the siege of the embassy was lifted, Ambassador Sasser retired (he was slated to do so before the siege, so his retirement was not a direct result) and returned to the United States, where he presently divides his time between Tennessee and Washington, D.C., as a consultant.

Electoral history

  • 1976 Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate (TN)
  • 1976 General Election for U.S. Senate (TN)
  • 1982 General Election for U.S. Senate (TN)
  • 1988 General Election for U.S. Senate (TN)
  • 1994 General Election for U.S. Senate (TN)

Notes

References

United States Senate
Preceded by
Bill Brock
United States Senator (Class 1) from Tennessee
1977 – 1995
Served alongside: Howard Baker, Al Gore, Harlan Mathews, Fred Thompson
Succeeded by
Bill Frist
Preceded by
Lawton Chiles
Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee
1989 – 1995
Succeeded by
Pete Domenici
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
J. Stapleton Roy
U.S. Ambassador to China
1995 – 1999
Succeeded by
Joseph Prueher
Representatives to the 95th–103rd United States Congresses from Tennessee
95th Senate: H. Baker, Jr. | J. Sasser House: J. Quillen | J. Duncan, Sr. | E. Jones | R. Beard | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | C. Allen | A. Gore, Jr.
96th Senate: H. Baker, Jr. | J. Sasser House: J. Quillen | J. Duncan, Sr. | E. Jones | R. Beard | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | A. Gore, Jr. | B. Boner
97th Senate: H. Baker, Jr. | J. Sasser House: J. Quillen | J. Duncan, Sr. | E. Jones | R. Beard | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | A. Gore, Jr. | B. Boner
98th Senate: H. Baker, Jr. | J. Sasser House: J. Quillen | J. Duncan, Sr. | E. Jones | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | A. Gore, Jr. | B. Boner | J. Cooper | D. Sundquist
99th Senate: J. Sasser | A. Gore, Jr. House: J. Quillen | J. Duncan, Sr. | E. Jones | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | B. Boner | J. Cooper | D. Sundquist | B. Gordon
100th Senate: J. Sasser | A. Gore, Jr. House: J. Quillen | J. Duncan, Sr. | E. Jones | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | B. Boner | J. Cooper | D. Sundquist | B. Gordon
101st Senate: J. Sasser | A. Gore, Jr. House: J. Quillen | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | J. Cooper | D. Sundquist | B. Gordon | B. Clement | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner
102nd Senate: J. Sasser | A. Gore, Jr. House: J. Quillen | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | J. Cooper | D. Sundquist | B. Gordon | B. Clement | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner
103rd Senate: J. Sasser | H. Mathews House: J. Quillen | H. Ford, Sr. | M. Lloyd | J. Cooper | D. Sundquist | B. Gordon | B. Clement | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message