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John Melcher

In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1989
Preceded by Mike Mansfield
Succeeded by Conrad Burns

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 2nd district
In office
June 24, 1969 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by James F. Battin
Succeeded by Ron Marlenee

Born September 6, 1924 (age 85)
Sioux City, Iowa
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Iowa State University

John Melcher (born September 6, 1924) is an American politician of the Democratic Party who represented Montana as a member of the United States House of Representatives, and as a United States Senator from 1977 until 1989.

Early life

Melcher was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He attended the University of Minnesotabefore joining the military. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving with the 76th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II. He was wounded in action in Germany and awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Bronze Star.[1]

He graduated from Iowa State University in 1950.

Later he moved to Forsyth, Montana and established a veterinary clinic.

Political career

He became mayor of Forsyth in 1955, and served three terms. In 1960, he was elected state representative for Rosebud County. [2]

In 1962 he was elected State senator. He was elected as a Democrat to the 91st Congress by special election, June 24, 1969, to fill a vacancy created when the incumbent, Republican James F. Battin, resigned to accept an appointment to the Federal bench. Melcher was reelected to the three succeeding Congresses and served from June 24, 1969, to January 3, 1977.[3]

In 1976 he was elected to the United States Senate for the term commencing January 3, 1977. Melcher ran and was reelected in 1982 for the term ending January 3, 1989. A highlight of the latter campaign was the "moo cows for Melcher" ad. Melcher had been targeted by National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) as potentially vulnerable, and he was subjected to attack ads depicting him as "too liberal for Montana". Melcher's response became a classic of campaign advertising, featuring a shot of an "out-of-stater" carrying a briefcase full of money, followed by a conversation among several cows deploring their intervention in the race.[4]

His campaign for re-election in 1988 was unsuccessful; he was defeated by Republican Conrad Burns.[3]

On April 2, 2008 Melcher endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Franklin Battin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 2nd congressional district

June 24, 1969 – January 3, 1977
Succeeded by
Ron Marlenee
United States Senate
Preceded by
Mike Mansfield
United States Senator (Class 1) from Montana
1977 – 1989
Served alongside: Lee Metcalf, Paul G. Hatfield, Max Baucus
Succeeded by
Conrad Burns
Political offices
Preceded by
James Abourezk
Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
1979 – 1981
Succeeded by
William Cohen
Preceded by
H. John Heinz III
Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee
1987 – 1989
Succeeded by
David Pryor


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