Tom Foley

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Tom Foley
Tom Foley Official Portrait.jpg
57th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
June 6, 1989 – January 3, 1995
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded byJim Wright
Succeeded byNewt Gingrich
25th United States Ambassador to Japan
In office
November 19, 1997 – April 1, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded byWalter Mondale
Succeeded byHoward Baker
House Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1987 – June 6, 1989
DeputyTony Coelho
Preceded byJim Wright
Succeeded byDick Gephardt
House Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
LeaderJim Wright
Preceded byJohn Brademas
Succeeded byTony Coelho
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byWalt Horan
Succeeded byGeorge Nethercutt
Personal details
BornThomas Stephen Foley
(1929-03-06)March 6, 1929
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
DiedOctober 18, 2013(2013-10-18) (aged 84)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Heather Strachan
Alma materGonzaga University
University of Washington, Seattle
ReligionRoman Catholicism
 
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For the Connecticut gubernatorial candidate, see Thomas C. Foley. For other uses, see Thomas Foley (disambiguation).
Tom Foley
Tom Foley Official Portrait.jpg
57th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
June 6, 1989 – January 3, 1995
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded byJim Wright
Succeeded byNewt Gingrich
25th United States Ambassador to Japan
In office
November 19, 1997 – April 1, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded byWalter Mondale
Succeeded byHoward Baker
House Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1987 – June 6, 1989
DeputyTony Coelho
Preceded byJim Wright
Succeeded byDick Gephardt
House Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
LeaderJim Wright
Preceded byJohn Brademas
Succeeded byTony Coelho
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byWalt Horan
Succeeded byGeorge Nethercutt
Personal details
BornThomas Stephen Foley
(1929-03-06)March 6, 1929
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
DiedOctober 18, 2013(2013-10-18) (aged 84)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Heather Strachan
Alma materGonzaga University
University of Washington, Seattle
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Speaker of the House Tom Foley, official congressional portrait

Thomas Stephen "Tom" Foley (March 6, 1929 – October 18, 2013) was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Washington. He was the 57th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1989 to 1995. He represented Washington's 5th congressional district for 30 years as a Democratic member from 1965 to 1995.

Foley was the first Speaker of the House since 1862 to be defeated in a re-election campaign. He served as the United States Ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton.

Early life and legal practice[edit]

Foley was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Helen Marie (née Higgins), a school teacher, and Ralph E. Foley, a Superior Court Judge.[1] He was of Irish Catholic descent.[2] In 1946, he graduated from the Jesuit-run Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane. He went on to attend Gonzaga University in Spokane and the University of Washington in Seattle, the latter awarding him a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951. In 1957, he earned a law degree from the same university.

Following law school, Foley entered private practice. In 1958, he began working in the Spokane County prosecutor's office as a deputy prosecuting attorney. Foley taught at Gonzaga University Law School (in Spokane, Washington) from 1958 to 1959. In 1960, he joined the office of the State of Washington Attorney General.

In 1961, Foley moved to Washington, D.C., and joined the staff of the United States Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs as assistant chief clerk and special counsel, in which capacity he served until mid 1964 when he quit to run for Congress.

Congressional service[edit]

In 1964, Foley was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Washington's 5th congressional seat,[3] which included Spokane. He faced 11-term Republican incumbent Walt Horan in the general election and won by seven points, one of many swept into office in the Democratic landslide. He was re-elected without significant difficulty until 1978, when he narrowly defeated conservative activist Duane Alton. The next race in 1980 was also close, when physician John Sonneland finished just 4 points back. Though the fifth district became increasingly conservative, Foley didn't face serious opposition again until his defeat in 1994.

In 1981, Foley was chosen majority whip by the House Democratic caucus and served in that capacity until 1987, when he moved up to the position of majority leader. In 1989, Jim Wright of Texas stepped down as Speaker of the House amid an ethics scandal, and Foley was elected to succeed him. He became the first Speaker from a state west of the Rocky Mountains.

Term limits[edit]

During his time in the House, Foley repeatedly opposed efforts to impose term limits on Washington state's elected officials, winning the support of the state's voters to reject term limits in a 1991 referendum. However, in 1992, a term limit ballot initiative was approved by the state's voters.

Foley brought suit, challenging the constitutionality of a state law setting eligibility requirements on federal offices. Foley won his suit, with federal courts declaring that states did not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to limit the terms of federal officeholders.

However, in Foley's bid for a 16th term in the House, his Republican opponent, George Nethercutt, used the issue against him, repeatedly citing the caption of the federal case brought by Foley, "Foley against the People of the State of Washington." Nethercutt vowed that if elected, he would not serve more than three terms in the House (but ultimately served for five terms). Foley lost in a narrow race that coincided with the Republican electoral triumph of 1994. While Foley had usually relied on large margins in Spokane itself to carry him to victory, in 1994 he won Spokane by only 9,000 votes while Nethercutt did well enough in the rest of the district to win overall by just under 4,000 votes. At the time, it was reported that some voters believed mistakenly that if he beat Foley, Nethercutt would become the new speaker of the House.[citation needed]

Foley became the first sitting Speaker of the House to lose his bid for re-election since Galusha Grow in 1862. He is sometimes viewed as a political casualty of the term limits controversy of the early 1990s. President Bill Clinton attributed his defeat to his support for the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. [4]

Electoral history[edit]

Here is a chart of the voting results in Foley's election race. There are subtotals for the city of Spokane, rural Spokane County, and a Spokane total, as this is the main part of the 5th Congressional District.

YearCandidatePartySpokaneOutsideCountyDistrict
1964Tom Foley*D41,37717,58758,96484,830
Walt Horan (Inc)R32,26216,75749,01973,884
1966Tom Foley*D35,53315,33450,86774,571
Dorothy PowersR25,35713,23238,58957,310
1968Tom Foley*D41,20319,22760,43088,446
Richard BondR29,65916,98846,64767,304
1970Tom Foley*D40,79120,53261,32388,189
George GambleR19,92611,92831,85443,376
1972Tom Foley*D58,28235,06093,342150,580
Clarice PrivetteR12,4688,63721,10534,742
1974Tom Foley*D30,71718,72649,44387,959
Gary GageR16,92512,02028,94548,739
1976Tom Foley*D41,72027,90569,625120,415
Duane AltonR30,31825,51955,83784,262
Bear SandahlL8344071,2411,959
Ira LiebowitzUSL403181584935
1978Tom Foley*D28,34618,85847,20477,201
Duane AltonR20,92318,94239,86568,761
Mel TonasketI5,5744,58010,15414,887
1980Tom Foley*D41,25631,60472,860120,530
John SonnelandR32,85733,66266,519111,705
1982Tom Foley*D39,81032,36272,172109,549
John SonnelandR18,48220,42038,90260,816
1984Tom Foley*D56,82049,360106,180154,988
Jack HebnerR20,51723,72944,24667,438
1986Tom Foley*D43,01137,93980,950121,732
Floyd WakefieldR12,51014,28126,79141,179
1988Tom Foley*D56,24953,791110,040160,654
Marlyn DerbyR14,43817,77232,21049,657
1990Tom Foley*D38,55337,12175,674110,234
Marlyn DerbyR15,08218,36333,44549,965
1992Tom Foley*D49,67545,91995,594135,965
John SonnelandR32,50840,10872,616110,443
1994Tom FoleyD39,33135,32374,654106,074
George Nethercutt*R30,26541,06571,330110,057

Later career[edit]

In 1997, Foley was appointed as the 25th U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton.[5] He served as ambassador until 2001.

Foley was a Washington delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention.[citation needed] On July 9, 2003, Washington Governor Gary Locke awarded the Washington Medal of Merit, the state's highest honor, to Foley.[citation needed] He was North American Chairman of the Trilateral Commission.[6]

Death[edit]

Foley died at his home in Washington, D.C. on October 18, 2013, following months of hospice care after suffering a series of strokes and a bout with pneumonia.[7] He was 84 and is survived by his wife, Heather. He had been experiencing aspiration pneumonia. Services will be held at St. Aloysius Church at Gonzaga University, as well as Washington, D.C.[8][9] Speaker John Boehner, and Nancy Pelosi, who also served as Speaker, issued statements honoring Foley.[10] In a White House statement, U.S. President Barack Obama called Speaker Foley a "legend of the United States Congress" who "represented the people of Washington's 5th district with skill, dedication, and a deep commitment to improving the lives of those he was elected to serve.", going on to praise him for his bipartisanship and subsequent ambassadorial service under former President Clinton.[11] Vice President Joseph Biden also released an official statement, saying "Tom was a good friend and a dedicated public servant.", citing his work in Congress with Foley in the 1980s on budgetary issues.[12] Washington Governor Jay Inslee also released a statement, acknowledging his efforts to reach consensus and emphasize mutual common ground, and his work in the legal system and in Congress, in these capacities serving the state and the Spokane, Washington area.[13] Former President George H. W. Bush, whose presidential term overlapped Foley's service as Speaker, stated he "represented the very best in public service- and our political system" and "never got personal or burned bridges."[14]

Honors[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.gonzaga.edu/academics/libraries/foley+library/faqs-and-information/History.asp
  2. ^ http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8703
  3. ^ "Horan, Foley express appreciation to voters". Spokane Daily Chronicle. September 16, 1964. p. 5. 
  4. ^ "My Life". Vintage. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Commentary: "Is Tom Foley the Wrong Man to Send to Tokyo?" BusinessWeek. May 12, 1997; Wudunn, Sheryl. "New U.S. Diplomat Tries to Speak Japan's Language," New York Times. April 8, 1998.
  6. ^ a b c d Trilateral Commission: Foley, bio notes
  7. ^ Clymer, Adam (October 18, 2013). "Thomas Foley, House Speaker, Dies at 84; Democrat Urged Parties to Collaborate". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ "Tom Foley, former speaker of the US House, dies at age 84". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-10-18. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Former Speaker of the House Tom Foley dies at 84 - Spokesman.com - Oct. 18, 2013". Spokesman.com. 2013-10-18. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  10. ^ Tom Kludt (October 18, 2013). "Boehner, Pelosi Pay Tribute To Former Speaker Foley". Talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  11. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/10/18/statement-president-passing-tom-foley
  12. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/10/18/statement-vice-president-passing-tom-foley
  13. ^ http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/releases/article.aspx?id=163
  14. ^ "Former House Speaker Tom Foley dead at 84". CNN. October 18, 2013. 
  15. ^ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: FOLEY, Thomas Stephen, (1929 - 2013); Retrieved 19 October 2013
  16. ^ Tom Hayden, Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America, p. 116; Retrieved 19 October 2013


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walt Horan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th congressional district

1965–1995
Succeeded by
George Nethercutt
Preceded by
William Poage
Chairperson of the House Agriculture Committee
1975–1981
Succeeded by
Kika de la Garza
Preceded by
John Brademas
Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
1981–1987
Succeeded by
Tony Coelho
Preceded by
Jim Wright
Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives
1987–1989
Succeeded by
Dick Gephardt
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Brademas
Deputy Leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives
1981–1987
Succeeded by
Tony Coelho
Preceded by
Jim Wright
Leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives
1987–1989
Succeeded by
Dick Gephardt
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Wright
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
1989–1995
Succeeded by
Newt Gingrich
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Walter Mondale
United States Ambassador to Japan
1997–2001
Succeeded by
Howard Baker