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Floyd Fithian
Floyd Fithian.png
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1983
Preceded byEarl Landgrebe
Succeeded byPhilip Sharp
Personal details
Floyd James Fithian

(1928-11-03)November 3, 1928
Vesta, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedJune 27, 2003(2003-06-27) (aged 74)
Annandale, Virginia, U.S.
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Marjorie Heim
EducationPeru State College (BA)
University of Nebraska (PhD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
United States Navy Reserve
Years of service1951-1955 (active duty)
1955-1971 (reserve duty)

Floyd James Fithian (November 3, 1928 – June 27, 2003) was an American educator and politician who served as a United States Representative from Indiana as a Democrat.[2] He was one of the forty nine Watergate Babies who won election to the House of Representatives in the wake of the Watergate scandal during the 1974 House elections with Fithian himself defeating Earl Landgrebe, who became infamous for his stalwart defense of President Richard Nixon.

Floyd was one of fourteen members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations and believed that Kennedy's assassination was orchestrated by members of organized crime.[3]

Early life

Floyd James Fithian was born in Vesta, Nebraska on November 3, 1928 and graduated from Vesta High School in 1947.[4] In 1951 he became the first in his family to graduate from college when he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska. He enlisted into the United States Navy in the same year and rose to the rank of lieutenant by the time he left in 1955.[5] However, he continued to serve in the United States Navy Reserve, retiring in 1971 as a commander.[6]

While in the navy, Fithian was able to attend the University of Nebraska, where he received his Master of Arts in 1955 and, after teaching at a high school from 1956 to 1959, a Ph.D. in American history in 1964 from the same institution.[7] He taught briefly at Nebraska Wesleyan University and moved to Lafayette, Indiana in 1964 to become an associate professor of history at Purdue University.[8] During his time at Purdue, he managed and operated a small farm in Tippecanoe County.[9]


Early politics

During the 1968 presidential election he served as an associate Tippecanoe County coordinator for Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign. Afterwards he served as an associate Tippecanoe County coordinator for Birch Bayh's reelection campaign in Indiana's Senate race.[10]

During the 1970 midterm elections he served as Tippecanoe County coordinator for Philip A. Sprague's house campaign against incumbent Republican Earl Landgrebe and as president of the 2nd District Win-Dems organization.[11][12] Landgrebe narrowly defeated Sprague in the general election by only 1,204 votes, but he was the first Democratic congressional nominee to win Tippecanoe County since the 1930s.[13] He was also selected to be one of the Democratic nominees for Tippecanoe County's three council seats by the county Democratic Central Committee, but came in fourth place.[14][15]

United States House of Representatives

Fithian ran for Indiana's Second Congressional District during the 1972 elections and won the Democratic nomination. In the general election Landgrebe easily defeated him by riding off of the coattails of Richard Nixon's landslide victory in the 1972 presidential election and in Indiana where he received 66.11% of the vote statewide against George McGovern and received 72,000 more votes than Landgrebe in the second congressional district.[16]

During the Watergate scandal Landgrebe was a stalwart defender of Nixon and stated "Don't confuse me with the facts. I've got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I'm going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot." in response to why he would not listen to or read the transcript of the "smoking gun" tape that was released on August 5, 1974 and documented Nixon's complicity in the Watergate coverup.[17] Landgrebe received a massive backlash from voters in his district for his support of Nixon and was resoundingly defeated in the 1974 election in a rematch with Fithian. Fithian easily defeated Landgrebe in a landslide with 101,856 votes to 64,950 votes becoming the first Democratic candidate to win in Indiana's Second Congressional district since George R. Durgan in the 1932 elections when the Democrats also saw a landslide victory nationally.

In the 1976 elections the Indiana Republican Party ran a slate of candidates to defeat Fithian in the general election and retake the formerly strong Republican seat and chose Assistant Secretary of Agriculture William Erwin out of a five-man primary.[18] However, Fithian won reelection with 54.75% of the vote against Erwin. In the 1978 elections Fithian saw his second largest margin of victory, behind his victory against Landgrebe in 1974 due to the Watergate scandal hurting Republicans, due to Republicans running Jay Philip Oppenheim, a failed primary candidate in the district from the 1976 attempt to unseat Fithian, who had little name recognition and with William Costas, a Republican turned independent, taking votes from Oppenhiem gave Fithian a 20.28% margin of victory. Despite the Republicans performing well nationally in the 1980 elections and in Indiana, Fithian was able to win reelection by 8%.[19]

In 1975 he introduced a balanced budget constitutional amendment, but it failed to gain any traction. In 1977 he supported the Torrijos–Carter Treaties which would give control of the Panama Canal to Panama in 1999 despite the majority of his district being against it.[20] In 1976 he sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asking him to demand former Air Force Undersecretary James W. Plummer's resignation as executive vice president of Lockheed Corporation due to the conflict of interests that would be created.[21] In 1982 he reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment which had failed to be ratified by 38 states before its deadline, but it failed to pass.[22]

During his tenure, Fithian served on the House Small Business Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Government Operations where he served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations to investigated the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.[23][24]

1982 U.S. Senate election

In 1982 Indiana lost a congressional district after the 1980 Census and Fithian's district was split into more conservative territory. Fithian criticized the reapportionment and brought up that according to the apportionment formula Indiana was entitled to 10.574 congressional districts and New Mexico was entitled to 2.505 congressional districts yet despite the Indianan figure being higher Indiana was losing a district and New Mexico was gaining a district.[25]

On July 13, 1981 Fithian announced that he would retire from the House and would not seek reelection in either the 3rd, 5th, or 7th congressional districts or challenge Senator Richard Lugar and would instead run for Secretary of State.[26] However, on February 16, 1982 he announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Senator to challenge Lugar in the 1982 election.[27] In the Democratic primary he faced Indiana State Senator Michael Kendall, who he earlier encouraged to run for the Senate who he defeated with 59% of the vote.[28]

On November 2, 1982, he was defeated by Lugar who won with 54% of the vote against Fithian's 46% and won by 149,901 votes.

Post-House career

After his defeat he served as Chief of Staff for Illinois Senator Paul Simon from 1983 to 1992, and worked as the campaign manager for Simon's 1988 presidential campaign. Fithian also worked for Senator Lloyd Bentsen as the finance director when he was the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 1983 to 1985.[29] After working for Simon, he joined the Department of Agriculture working as Secretary of the Farm Credit Administration.[30] In 1991 Oliver Stone's JFK, a political thriller based on the investigation into the Kennedy assassination by Jim Garrison, to critical acclaim although it was criticized for its historical inaccuracies and Floyd criticized the film for its manipulation of the past. On March 14, 2003 he joined seventy two other former congressmembers and signed a letter asking President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to give more time to the United Nations inspectors in Iraq.[31]

On June 27, 2003 Fithian died at his retirement home in Annandale, Virginia after suffering from Parkinson's disease and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.[32][33]

Electoral history

Floyd Fithian electoral history
1972 Indiana Second Congressional District election[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Earl Landgrebe (incumbent) 110,406 54.67% +4.29%
Democratic Floyd Fithian 91,533 45.33% -4.29%
Total votes '201,939' '100.00%'
1974 Indiana Second Congressional District election[35]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Floyd Fithian 101,856 61.06% +15.73%
Republican Earl Landgrebe (incumbent) 64,950 38.94% -15.73%
Total votes '166,806' '100.00%'
1976 Indiana Second Congressional District election[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Floyd Fithian (incumbent) 117,617 54.75% -6.31%
Republican William Erwin 95,605 44.50% +5.56%
American James Hensley Logan 1,623 0.76% +0.76%
Total votes '214,845' '100.00%'
1978 Indiana Second Congressional District election[37]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Floyd Fithian (incumbent) 82,402 56.53% +1.78%
Republican Jay Philip Oppenheim 52,842 36.25% -8.25%
Independent William Costas 9,368 6.43% +6.43%
American James Hensley Logan 1,166 0.80% +0.04%
Total votes '145,778' '100.00%'
1980 Indiana Second Congressional District election[38]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Floyd Fithian (incumbent) 122,326 54.06% -2.47%
Republican Ernest Niemeyer 103,957 45.94% +9.69%
Total votes '226,283' '100.00%'
1982 Indiana Senate Democratic primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Floyd Fithian 262,644 59.51%
Democratic Michael Kendall 178,702 40.49%
Total votes '441,346' '100.00%'
1982 Indiana Senate election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Richard Lugar (incumbent) 978,301 53.83%
Democratic Floyd Fithian 828,400 45.58%
American Raymond James 10,586 0.58%
Total votes '1,817,287' '100.00%'


  1. ^ "Floyd Fithian; Former Congressman, 76". The New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  2. ^ "FITHIAN, Floyd James, (1928 - 2003)". Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  3. ^ "Ex-Congressman Sure of Mafia Involvement in Assassination". The Star Press. January 27, 1992. p. 6. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  4. ^ Purdue University. "Fithian, Floyd J. (1928 - 2003)". Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  5. ^ "For County Councilman-At-Large". Journal and Courier. October 31, 1970. p. 32. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  6. ^ PR Newswire (June 30, 2003). "Former Indiana Congressman Floyd Fithian Passed Away Over the Weekend". Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  7. ^ Farm Credit Administration (February 12, 1999). "FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION NEWS" (PDF). Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  8. ^ "Floyd Fithian; Former Congressman, 76". The New York Times. July 7, 2003. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  9. ^ United States. Congress; Andrew R. Dodge; Betty K. Koed. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005: The Continental Congress, September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States, from the First Through the One Hundred Eighth Congresses, March 4, 1789, to January 3, 2005, Inclusive. Government Printing Office. p. 1056. ISBN 978-0-16-073176-1. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  10. ^ "Fithian To Seek Election". The Times. November 5, 1973. p. 8. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  11. ^ "Landgrebe Not To Debate, Sprague Says". Journal and Courier. September 15, 1970. p. 8. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  12. ^ "The Democratic". Journal and Courier. April 29, 1970. p. 4. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  13. ^ "Landgrebe's Margin Climbs to 1,434 Votes". Journal and Courier. November 4, 1970. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  14. ^ "Demos Slate Candidates For At-Large County Councilmen". Journal and Courier. July 24, 1970. p. 26. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  15. ^ "For County Councilmen-At-Large". Journal and Courier. November 4, 1970. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  16. ^ "Invitation Is Effort To Dodge Issues: Fithian". Vidette-Messenger of Porter County. July 29, 1974. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 22, 2019 – via
  17. ^ "Ex-Hoosier Congressman Dies". The Star Press. July 1, 1986. p. 12. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019 – via
  18. ^ "Ex-Hoosier Congressman Dies". Journal and Courier. November 3, 1976. p. 12. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019 – via
  19. ^ "Republican landslide fails to topple Floyd Fithian". The South Bend Tribune. November 5, 1980. p. 16. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019 – via
  20. ^ "Floyd Fithian: A man of his times". Journal and Courier. July 10, 2003. p. 9. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  21. ^ "Should Demand Resignation, Says Fithian". Vidette-Messenger of Porter County. July 22, 1976. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  22. ^ "Fithian, others to reintroduce ERA". The Indianapolis Star. July 10, 1982. p. 22. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  23. ^ "Floyd James Fithian Commander, United States Navy Member of Congress". Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  24. ^ National Archives and Records Administration (March 29, 1979). "Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives". Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  25. ^ "Indiana Loses 1 District". The Times. July 12, 1981. p. 56. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  26. ^ "Fithian has plans, but few would help state". Palladium-Item. July 15, 1981. p. 20. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  27. ^ "Lugar files candidacy". Journal and Courier. February 17, 1982. p. 3. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  28. ^ Associated Press (May 5, 1982). "Senate Candidates Chosen in Indiana". Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  29. ^ "Aristocrat Respected As Legislator". The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 13, 1988. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  30. ^ Farm Credit Administration (April 22, 1998). "POLICY STATEMENT--Financial Institution Rating System [BM-9-APR-98-02]". Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  31. ^ "Fithian/Stayed active in politics". Journal and Courier. July 1, 2003. p. 8. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  32. ^ "Floyd Fithian, professor and former congressman". The Indianapolis Star. July 1, 2003. p. 12. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  33. ^ "Floyd Fithian, former local congressman, dead at 76". The Times. July 2, 2003. p. 101. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019 – via
  34. ^ "IN District 2 1972". January 5, 2018.
  35. ^ "IN District 2 1974". December 4, 2017.
  36. ^ "IN District 2 1976". June 27, 2003.
  37. ^ "IN District 2 1978". June 29, 2003.
  38. ^ "IN District 2 1980". April 21, 2016.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Vance Hartke
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Indiana
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Jack Wickes
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Earl F. Landgrebe
U.S. Representative of Indiana's 2nd Congressional District
Succeeded by
Philip R. Sharp

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

This page was last edited on 23 August 2020, at 06:31
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