CONGRESSMAN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
“Dick Gephardt, let me say this, is one of the finest leaders this nation has known.
He’s the hardest working . . . and frankly the most passionate Democrat in the House.”
Dick Gephardt made his mark on politics in the 1990s and early 2000s as one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill. He served as one of the highest-ranking leaders of the party while being a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination on numerous occasions. The key to his success was due in part to his ability to make personal connections to his working-class constituents while wielding significant political power in Washington, D.C.
THE EARLY YEARS
Richard Andrew Gephardt was born on January 31, 1941, and grew up in south St. Louis, in the same neighborhood that he would one day represent in the U.S. House of Representatives. His father was a union truck driver and his mother a secretary. It was this working-class background that likely influenced many of
his life choices, including his ultimate decision to enter politics later in life. He graduated from Southwest High School in 1958, then he was accepted at the prestigious Northwestern University in Chicago where he graduated with honors. He went on to earn his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1965.
RISE TO FAME
After passing the bar exam in Missouri, Gephardt stayed busy by serving as a captain in the Missouri Air National Guard while getting his feet wet in politics. He first won an election as a committeeman in St. Louis and moved up the ranks three years later to become an alderman. His next step was a big one, all the way to Washington, D.C., where he stayed for the next twenty-six years as a congressman representing the state of Missouri.
SHOW ME SUCCESS
Gephardt quickly moved up the ranks in Congress, serving as House majority leader from 1989 to 1994, then as House minority leader through 2003. He also made unsuccessful bids for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 and again in 2004. He dropped out of the latter race after a lackluster showing in the Iowa caucuses, only to be mentioned as a possible vice-presidential running mate for John Kerry.
Gephardt announced before his run for the presidency that he would not seek re-election for his congressional seat. So after dropping out of the 2004 race, Gephardt retired to private life after an amazing fourteen terms in office.
*On the same day that John Kerry picked John Edwards to be his running mate in 2004, the New York Post published a headline stating that Gephardt had the pick.
*Gephardt was viewed as a social conservative when elected but moved progressively left during his terms in office.