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Eugene Atkinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eugene Atkinson
Eugene Atkinson.png
Atkinson pictured during his first term in Congress, c. 1979
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 25th district
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1983
Preceded byGary A. Myers
Succeeded byDistrict eliminated
Personal details
Eugene Vincent Atkinson

(1927-04-05)April 5, 1927
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
DiedAugust 4, 2016(2016-08-04) (aged 89)
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
Political partyRepublican (from 1981)
Democratic (until 1981)

Eugene Vincent Atkinson (April 5, 1927 – August 4, 2016)[1] was a two-term member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania, serving from 1979 to 1983.

Early life and career

Atkinson was born in the Pittsburgh Metro Area city of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. Atkinson was the director of customs for the port of Pittsburgh from 1962 to 1969. Atkinson then served as the Beaver County commissioner from 1972 to 1978.


In 1978, he was elected to the U.S. House as a member of the Democratic Party.

Atkinson was an early supporter of Jimmy Carter in 1976, but in 1980 Atkinson endorsed Senator Ted Kennedy for President. At rallies for Kennedy, Atkinson praised Kennedy's leadership.[2]

While Atkinson was on a radio call-in show in 1981, President Ronald Reagan called into the show and persuaded Atkinson to support Reagan’s proposed budget cuts.[3] Reagan was calling from his Washington, D.C. hospital bed while recovering from a gunshot wound as a result of an assassination attempt.[4][5]

On October 14, 1981, Atkinson switched parties, joining the Republican Party.[6] Atkinson claimed at the time that the switch was a result of Democratic reaction to his support of Reagan’s agenda. New York Republican Representative John LeBoutillier led the congressional effort to coax Atkinson to switch parties.[7][8]

After the switch, House Speaker Tip O’Neill predicted Atkinson would be defeated in his next election.[9][10] The prediction proved accurate, as Atkinson subsequently lost his 1982 re-election by a 21 percentage point margin to Joseph P. Kolter.[11]


Atkinson died on August 4, 2016 at the age of 89.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "ATKINSON, Eugene Vincent - Biographical Information". United States Congress. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Maverick Democrat of Pennsylvania".
  3. ^ Lobbying phone call puts Reagan on air
  4. ^ "Party switcher's bid is Reagan's test".
  5. ^ "Maverick Democrat of Pennsylvania".
  6. ^ Maverick Democratic Rep. Eugene Atkinson of Pennsylvania -- who...
  7. ^ "Party switcher's bid is Reagan's test".
  8. ^ "Maverick Democrat of Pennsylvania".
  9. ^ "Party switcher's bid is Reagan's test".
  10. ^ "Maverick Democrat of Pennsylvania".
  11. ^ Barone, Michael; and Ujifusa, Grant. The Almanac of American Politics 1988', p. 1019. National Journal, 1987.
  12. ^ Davidson, Tom (August 5, 2016). "Eugene V. Atkinson, former congressman and Beaver County commissioner, dead at 89". Beaver County Times.


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gary A. Myers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 25th congressional district

Succeeded by
District Eliminated

This page was last edited on 11 February 2021, at 08:57
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