Friday, June 10, 2005

The Passing of a Giant: Farewell to Jim Exon

by Kyle Michaelis
The titan of Nebraska Democratic politics, former governor and senator Jim Exon, died tonight at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital of natural causes. He was 83 years old. The AP writes of Exon's long career of public service:
Known as one of the founders of the modern Democratic Party in Nebraska, Exon managed Frank Morrison's successful campaign for governor in 1960 when Morrison defeated incumbent Republican Dwight Burney.

Ten years later, it was Exon's turn. The Lincoln businessman defeated Norbert Thiemann, launching one of Nebraska's most memorable political careers.

Exon never lost an election. He was re-elected governor in 1974, elected to the Senate in 1978, and re-elected in 1984 and 1990.

He is the only Nebraskan besides George Norris, the architect of the state's one-house Legislature, to win five consecutive statewide elections.

"He showed that the Democrats could be a party that could elect representatives to the various offices and it wouldn't have to be an occasional occurrence," Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., once said....

Bob Kerrey, a fellow Democrat who followed Exon in defeating an incumbent Republican governor and later served with Exon in the Senate, called his friend: "Relentless, decent, honorable and all the things you'd want in a good friend."

Condolences to Exon's friends and family. Tonight, the entire state mourns with you, especially those generations of Nebraska Democrats to whom Exon restored a sense of pride and purpose. We owe him much - let us keep him in our thoughts and honor his memory by our never-ending struggle for progress and prosperity for all.


Blogger Cornhead said...

If only the contemporary Nebraska political environment (specifically our beloved Democrats) had a leader as capable, steadfast, and energized as the great Jim Exon, our state and nation would be much better off.

Nice tribute, Kyle. Thanks.


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