The Full Wiki

Phil Crane: Wikis


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.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phil Crane

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 8th district
In office
November 25, 1969 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Donald Rumsfeld
Succeeded by Melissa Bean

Born November 3, 1930 (1930-11-03) (age 79)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Arlene Catherine Johnson
Religion Protestant

Philip Miller "Phil" Crane (born November 3, 1930) is a former American politician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 2005, representing the 8th District of Illinois in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. At the time of his defeat in the 2004 election, Crane was the longest-serving Republican member of the House.


Early life

Crane was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Cora Ellen (née Miller) and George Washington Crane III, a physician and college professor.[1][2] He was educated at Hillsdale College, the University of Vienna, received his PhD in history in 1961 from Indiana University and served in the United States Army. He also attended DePauw University and the University of Michigan.

His brother, Dan Crane, served alongside him as Congressman from another Illinois district for three terms. Another brother, David Crane, ran for Congress from Indiana a few times simultaneously with Phil and Dan. The brothers were dubbed "the Kennedys of the Right".

However, David never won a seat in Congress, and Dan ended up being defeated for re-election in 1984 due, in part, to his involvement in the 1983 Congressional page sex scandal. Philip Crane began to battle alcoholism, which he publicly acknowledged after winning reelection in 2000.

Crane was a faculty member at Indiana University and at Bradley University in Peoria, a staff member for the Republican National Committee and a director of research for the 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

Political career

Crane was first elected to the United States Congress in the 13th District of Illinois in a 1969 special election, succeeding Donald Rumsfeld, who was appointed to a position in the Nixon administration. Crane was a dark horse candidate in a field of seven aspirants and prevailed, despite the opposition of the Chicago North Shore GOP monied establishment by being the most pronounced conservative in that large field of candidates.

He soon established himself as one of the House's most conservative members, leading a small but growing cluster of right-wing congressmen who had cut their teeth in the fledgling conservative intellectual movement of the early 1960s and drew their inspiration from Goldwater's presidential campaign. He was handily elected to a full term in 1970, and was reelected 16 times. His district number changed as Illinois lost congressional seats—from the 13th (1969–73) to the 12th (1973–93) to the 8th (1993–2005). His district was long considered the most Republican district in the Chicago area, if not in all of Illinois. He almost always won with 70 percent or more of the vote until the 1990s, when he had to fend off more moderate Republicans in the primary and better-funded Democrats in the general election.

Soon after being elected to his first full term in 1970, he was tapped by several conservative activists, including Paul Weyrich, to form a group of conservative congressmen to keep watch on the Republican leadership, which at the time was seen as too moderate. This new group was known as the Republican Study Committee, and Crane served as its first chairman. He remained a member of the group for the remainder of his time in Congress.

In 1976, he was appointed Chairman of the Illinois Citizens for Reagan, in which capacity he made numerous speaking engagements throughout the midwest on behalf of the conservative California governor's unsuccessful GOP primary bid for the Presidential nomination.

In 1978, he became chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), a Washington, D.C. based conservative citizens' lobby and political action group. During his tenure the group waged a nationwide campaign against President Jimmy Carter's proposed cession of the Panama Canal and against the proposed SALT II arms limitation treaty with the USSR. As a result of these efforts, the organization's budget, staff and presence in Washington greatly increased.


Presidential ambitions

In 1978, shortly before the general election, Crane announced that he would be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. This surprised many observers, as Crane had supported Reagan for president two years earlier. At the time of his announcement, Crane expressed doubts that Reagan would run again (after two failed attempts for the nomination in 1968 and 1976), and intimated that, should Reagan run, he would likely drop out. However, he did stay in the race after Reagan's entry, and was one of the early candidates to drop out of the race during the Republican primaries.

Political eclipse

After the 1980 campaign, Crane's influence rapidly declined. Newt Gingrich, who had been elected to Congress soon after Crane announced his candidacy for president, soon surpassed him as the leading conservative firebrand in the House. By the time the Republicans took control of the House in 1994, Crane was widely seen as merely a "foot soldier" to Republican interests.

Crane did have some influence as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which handles tax issues. As chairman of its trade subcommittee, he was effective in his efforts to promote his staunch free trade views. However, when the full committee's chairman, Bill Archer of Texas, retired after the 2000 elections, Crane made a bid for the highly coveted post of Ways and Means chairman. He was the committee's most senior member, having been on the panel since 1975. However, he was passed over in favor of Bill Thomas of California for the Chairman's job. Some believe that Crane was not chosen because prior to the vote he had admitted to being an alcoholic and sought a leave from the House to get treatment. Others believe that Thomas' ability to raise money for congressional candidates helped him win the chairmanship.[3] Crane did earn the vice-chairmanship of the powerful committee.

Crane is also noted for the role he played in ending the chewing gum ban in Singapore, as part of negotiations during the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.[4]

Political defeat

In 2002, Crane's Democratic opponent was business consultant Melissa Bean, who accused Crane of being out of touch with his constituents. Indeed, even some Republican voters claimed they had not seen him in decades. He was one of the few congressmen whose Washington office lacked a public email address. Despite being dramatically outspent (she received almost no funding from the national level), Bean surprised both parties by garnering 43% of the vote in a district that supposedly had been redrawn after the 2000 Census to protect Crane (several previous opponents from both parties found their homes drawn out of the 8th and into the neighboring 10th).

Bean sought a rematch in the 2004 election. Crane's imminent retirement and his campaign's lack of enthusiasm, coupled with Bean's stance as a moderate Democrat, placed what had long been a very safe Republican seat in jeopardy. Bean also received endorsements from many major Chicago area newspapers, as well as support from then-Democratic Senate candidate, Barack Obama.

Bean raised almost as much money as Crane, claiming that she raised money from individual donors and that Crane received most donations from political action committees. Despite Republican efforts to help Crane, Bean defeated Crane by roughly four points even as George W. Bush carried the district in the 2004 election by 12 percentage points. The Almanac of American Politics described Crane as "an unusually bitter loser, refusing to speak to Bean or to arrange for the usually routine post-election transfer of district cases and other office files."[5]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Crane Rehabilitation
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ Michael Barone and Richard E. Cohen, The Almanac of American Politics, 2006 Edition, Washington, D.C.: National Journal, 2005, pp. 580-81.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Donald Rumsfeld
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert McClory
Preceded by
Robert McClory
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jerry F. Costello
Preceded by
Dan Rostenkowski
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Melissa Bean


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