Pete McCloskey: Wikis


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Paul Norton "Pete" McCloskey

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 11th district
In office
December 12, 1967 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by Jesse A. Younger
Succeeded by Leo Ryan

Born September 29, 1927 (1927-09-29) (age 82)
Loma Linda, California
Political party Republican (1948-2007)
Other political
Democratic (from 2007)
Alma mater Occidental College
California Institute of Technology
Stanford University (graduated 1950)
Stanford Law School (1953)
Religion Presbyterian
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy (1945-1947)
United States Marine Corps (1950-1952)
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (1952-1974)
Years of service 1945-1964
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Navy Cross
Silver Star
Purple Heart (2)

Paul Norton "Pete" McCloskey Jr. (born September 29, 1927) is a former Republican politician from the U.S. state of California who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1967 to 1983. He ran on an anti-war platform for the Republican nomination for President in 1972 but was defeated by incumbent President Richard Nixon.[1] In April 2007, McCloskey switched his affiliation to the Democratic Party. He is a decorated United States Marine Corps veteran of combat during the Korean War, being awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and two awards of the Purple Heart.

He published a book called Truth and Untruth: Political Deceit in America in 1972. One of McCloskey's enduring legacies is his co-authorship of the 1973 Endangered Species Act.[1]


Early life

Pete McCloskey's great-grandfather was orphaned in the Great Irish Famine and came to California in 1853 at the age of 16. He and his son, McCloskey's grandfather, were farmers in Merced County. The family were life-long Republicans.[2]

McCloskey was born on September 29, 1927 in Loma Linda, California, and attended public schools in South Pasadena and San Marino. He was inducted into South Pasadena High School Hall of Fame for the sport of baseball.[3] He attended Occidental College and California Institute of Technology under the U.S. Navy's V-5 Pilot Program. He graduated from Stanford University in 1950 and Stanford University Law School in 1953.

Military service

He voluntarily served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps from 1950 to 1952, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1952 to 1960 and the Ready Reserve from 1960 to 1967.

He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1974, having attained the rank of Colonel. Pete McCloskey won both the Navy Cross, the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts for outstanding service as a Marine during the Korean War.[1] He then volunteered for the Vietnam War before eventually turning against it.[1]

In 1992, he wrote his fourth book, "The Taking of Hill 610", describing some of his exploits in Korea.

Political career

He was Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County, California, from 1953 to 1954 and practiced law in Palo Alto, California, from 1955 to 1967. He was a lecturer on legal ethics at the Santa Clara and Stanford Law Schools from 1964 to 1967. He was elected as a Republican to the 90th Congress, by special election, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of U.S. Rep. J. Arthur Younger and was reelected to the seven succeeding Congresses, serving from December 12, 1967 to January 3, 1983.

McCloskey sought the 1972 Republican Presidential nomination on a pro-peace/anti-Vietnam War platform, and obtained 11% of the vote against incumbent GOP President Richard M. Nixon in the New Hampshire primary. At the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, Rep. McCloskey received one vote (out of 1324) from a New Mexico delegate. All other votes cast went to President Nixon, thus McCloskey finished second place in the race for the Presidential nomination. Congressman John Ashbrook of Ohio had also challenged President Nixon's bid for re-nomination, albeit on an ultra-conservative platform.

McCloskey was not a candidate for reelection in 1982, but was instead an unsuccessful Republican candidate for nomination to the United States Senate. The 1982 California Republican Senatorial primary was a contentious battle between Rep. McCloskey, Maureen Reagan (daughter of then-President Ronald Reagan), Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr. (son of Arizona Senator and 1964 Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater), and San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. Wilson was the eventual victor.

McCloskey was the first member of Congress to publicly call for the impeachment of President Nixon after the Watergate scandal and the Saturday Night Massacre. He was also the first lawmaker to call for a repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that allowed for the War in Vietnam.[1]

An opponent of the Iraq War,[4] McCloskey broke party ranks in 2004 to endorse John Kerry in his bid to unseat George W. Bush as President of the United States.[1]

In the late 1980s, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson sued Congressman McCloskey and Representative Andrew Jacobs, Jr. for libel. McCloskey had made remarks, which Jacobs repeated, stating that Robertson had used connections to avoid combat duty in the Korean War, where McCloskey had known Robertson. Eventually, Robertson dropped his lawsuit, claiming scheduling conflicts between court dates and his 1988 presidential campaign as the reason, and he was ordered to pay part of McCloskey's court costs.

In 1989, McCloskey co-founded the Council for the National Interest along with former Congressman Paul Findley (R-IL). He taught political science at Santa Clara University in the early 1980s. For many years, he practiced law in Redwood City, California and resided in Woodside, California.


2006 run for Congress

On January 23, 2006, McCloskey announced at a press conference in Lodi, California that he would return to the political arena by running against seven-term incumbent Republican Richard Pombo in the Republican primary for California's 11th congressional district.[5] Earlier in the year, he formed a group called the "Revolt of the Elders" to recruit a viable primary candidate to run against Pombo. McCloskey's aging campaign bus sported the slogan "Restore Ethics to Congress." McCloskey said, "Congressmen are like diapers. You need to change them often, and for the same reason."[1] McCloskey was endorsed in the Republican Party primary by the San Francisco Chronicle[6] and the Los Angeles Times.[7]

In the June 6, 2006 primary, McCloskey was defeated by Pombo. McCloskey received 32% of the vote.[8]

On July 24, 2006, McCloskey endorsed Jerry McNerney, a Democrat who would go on to unseat Pombo in the 2006 midterm elections.[9] McCloskey even spent most of Election Night at McNerney's victory party.[10]

The Sierra Club recognized McCloskey for helping to unseat the anti-environmentalist Pombo with their 2006 Edgar Wayburn Award.[11]

Change of Political Affiliation

In the spring of 2007, McCloskey announced that he had changed his party affiliation to the Democratic Party. In an email and letter to the Tracy Press, McCloskey stressed that the "new brand of Republicanism" had finally led him to abandon the party that he had joined in 1948.[12][13] He followed this up with an op-ed column in which he explained that "Disagreement [with party leadership] turned into disgust" and "I finally concluded that it was fraud for me to remain a member of this modern Republican Party", although it was a "decision not easily taken."[2]

Political positions

McCloskey is pro-choice, supports stem cell research and Oregon's assisted suicide law. He was a co-chair of the first Earth Day in 1970.[1]

IHR controversy

Pete McCloskey gave a featured address on "Machinations of the Anti-Defamation League" to the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) in 2000.[14][15] According to the San Jose Mercury News, February 20, 2006[16]

Campaign charges are exploding over a 2000 speech McCloskey gave to the controversial Institute for Historical Review, some of whose members question the severity of the Holocaust. McCloskey said at the time, "I don't know whether you are right or wrong about the Holocaust," and referred to the "so-called Holocaust". McCloskey said Friday that he has never questioned the existence of the Holocaust, and the 2000 quote referred to a debate over the number of people killed.

McCloskey said in an interview with the Contra Costa Times on January 18, 2006 that the IHR transcript of his speech was inaccurate.[17] Journalist Mark Hertsgaard of The Nation, in response to criticism of an article he wrote praising McCloskey's campaign against Pombo, stated that a tape he had viewed of McCloskey's speech to the IHR did not contain the "right or wrong" wording present in the transcript.[18]

Family and personal life

First marriage to Caroline with four children: Nancy, Peter, John, and Kathleen. Divorced. Married to Helen V. Hooper.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "White knight in a battle-bus". The Economist. 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2007-08-05.  
  2. ^ a b McCloskey, P. "Another Point of View: What Happened to the Party of Ford & Eisenhower?". (Auburn, Calif.) Sentinel, April 27, 2007.
  3. ^ South Pasadena High School
  4. ^ Mark Hertsgaard, A Dragon Slayer Returns, The Nation, posted March 9, 2006 (March 27, 2006 issue). Accessed June 20, 2006.
  5. ^ map
  6. ^ [ McCloskey over Pombo], San Francisco Chronicle editorial, May 24, 2006.
  7. ^ James Taranto, From the WSJ Opinion Archives, Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2006.
  8. ^ Brian Foley, Pombo to face McNerney in November; Zone 7 candidates tight, Tri-Valley Herald, June 8, 2006. Accessed June 20, 2006.
  9. ^ McCloskey Bucks GOP, Backs Democrat, Washington Post, July 24, 2006
  10. ^ McNerney, enviros take down Richard Pombo, Capitol Weekly, November 9, 2006
  11. ^ John Upton,Greens honor McCloskey, Tracy Press, November 25, 2006
  12. ^ Lisa Vorderbrueggen, McCloskey leaves Republican Party, Contra Costa Times Politics Weblog, April 16, 2007
  13. ^ McCloskey, Pete (April 21, 2007), "McCloskey: Why I have switched political parties" ( – Scholar search), Tracy Press,  
  14. ^ 13th IHR Conference: A Resounding Success, The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 2000 (Vol. 19, No. 3), pages 2-11. Accessed online June 20, 2006.
  15. ^ Paul N. McCloskey, Jr., Machinations of the Anti-Defamation League, The Journal for Historical Review, September/December 2001, Volume 20 number 5/6, page 13, ISSN 0195-6752. Accessed online June 20, 2006.
  16. ^ Mary Anne Ostrom, At 78, Spoiling for One Last Fight, San Jose Mercury News, February 20, 2006, reprinted on McCloskey's web site. Accessed online June 20, 2006.
  17. ^ Lisa Vorderbrueggen, McCloskey takes challenge to run against Pombo, Contra Costa Times, January 19, 2006. Archived.
  18. ^ Mark Hertsgaard, 'Dragon Slayer' No Saint George? Hertsgaard Replies, The Nation, May 1, 2006. Accessed July 04, 2008.
  19. ^ Pete McCloskey. NNDB. Retrieved 2009-07-06.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jesse A. Younger
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 11th congressional district

1967 – 1973
Succeeded by
Leo Joseph Ryan, Jr.
Preceded by
Glenn M. Anderson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 17th congressional district

1973 – 1975
Succeeded by
John Hans Krebs
Preceded by
Burt L. Talcott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 12th congressional district

1975 – 1983
Succeeded by
Ed Zschau


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