BIRTH DATE: July 18, 1921
BORN: Cambridge, Ohio
EDUCATION: Muskingham College, B.S. (1962)
FAMILY: Married to Anna Margaret Castor; two children
CURRENT JOB: Ranking Democrat, Governmental Affairs Committee
PREVIOUS JOBS: Marine Corps, 1942-1965; Astronaut. 1959-1962
MILITARY SERVICE: Marine Corps, 1942-1965
Sen. John Glenn
John Glenn, the senior Democratic Senator from Ohio, has conquered many areas of public service over the course of his life. And with his decision not to seek re-election in 1998, he will put another chapter of his life to rest.
Before Glenn does that, though, he faces what could be the most challenging role of his 23-year Senate career: ranking Democrat on the Governmental Affairs Committee, which is investigating alleged campaign fund-raising abuses in the 1996 elections.
The public's earliest memory of Glenn is from 1962 when he became the first American astronaut to orbit the earth in a space capsule. Previous to that historic event, Glenn had spent 22 years in the Marine Corps, including service in World War II and Korea.
Glenn's political history started quickly after his jaunt in space when he decided to run for the Senate in 1964. That bid, however, was cut short when he was forced to pull out of the race because of a household injury. He made another attempt in 1970, but lost in the primary to Howard Metzenbaum. The third time proved to be the charm as Glenn ran in 1974 and defeated Metzenbaum in the primary and then won easily in the general election.
Long respected in Washington as a centrist Democrat with a non-confrontational style, Glenn hit a roadblock midway through his Senate career when his name became connected with the "Keating Five" case. Glenn was one of five lawmakers who were suspected of doing favors for Charles Keating, a wealthy savings and loan executive and campaign donor. Glenn was ultimately found only to have exercised poor judgment, but his public image suffered.
Glenn had another setback in 1984 when he made a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Touted as a top contender, along with the eventual nominee Walter Mondale, Glenn did not make as substantial an impact on the race as some people expected. His problems at the podium, along with a chaotic campaign, ended his bid for the presidency early.
During his long tenure in the Senate, Glenn has concentrated on a small group of issues, many of them relatively low-profile. Glenn has played a pivotal role in helping to enact President Bill Clinton's "reinventing government" initiative. In addition, Glenn was responsible for a measure that would revamp the Hatch Act, which limits political activity by federal employees, and for the Paperwork Reduction Act. He attempted unsuccessfully to elevate the Environmental Protection Agency to a Cabinet-level position.
As a member of the Armed Services Committee since the 99th Congress, Glenn has become known as the Hill's expert on nuclear proliferation. He has campaigned vigorously for the reduction and elimination of U.S. exports of nuclear weapons to Iraq, Pakistan, and other countries. His firm stance on this issue brought him into conflict with both the Reagan and Bush administrations.
Long an icon of American heroism, Glenn's last hurrah before retiring will be the Senate investigation into campaign fund-raising wrongdoing. Some people have questioned whether his retirement might give Glenn the freedom to move beyond simple party loyalty in the probe. However they play out, the outcome of these hearings could have a great impact on the political legacy that Glenn leaves behind.
Updated July 25, 1997
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