Phil Crane

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Phil Crane, right, meets with   and , chairman of the .
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Phil Crane, right, meets with President George W. Bush and Bill Thomas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Philip Miller Crane (born November 3 1930), American politician, was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 2005, representing the 8th District of Illinois in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. At the time of his defeat in the 2004 election, Crane was the longest-serving Republican member of the House.

He was born in Chicago, was educated at Hillsdale College, the University of Vienna, and Indiana University (PhD 1961) and served in the United States Army. He is the brother of former Representative Dan Crane.

Crane was a faculty member at Indiana University and at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, a staff member for the Republican National Committee, director of research for the 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and a staff member of (then) former Vice-President Richard Nixon from 1964 to 1968 before entering the House. Crane is a recovered alcoholic.

He was first elected to Congress in the 13th District of Illinois in a 1969 special election, succeeding Representative Donald Rumsfeld, who was appointed to a position in the Nixon Administration. He was elected to a full term in 1970 and 16 times thereafter. His district number changed as Illinois lost population--from the 13th (1969-73) to the 12th (1973-93) to the 8th (1993-2005). He almost always won with 70 percent or more of the vote until the 1990s, when Illinois began trending more Democratic.

Once a conservative firebrand, Crane became a very loyal foot soldier to Republican interests, with no discernable leadership or influence. A few years before his defeat he was passed over for the Ways & Means committee chairmanship (in spite of seniority) due to his personal issues. In 2002, Democratic business consultant Melissa Bean ran against Crane. A general theme of her campaign was blasting Crane as being out of touch with his constituents (even some Republicans claimed they had not seen him in decades). Despite being vastly underfunded, she surprised both parties by garnering 43% of the vote in the once rock-solid Republican 8th District, even after it had been redrawn supposedly to protect Crane. Bean sought a rematch in 2004. The race originally was not considered winnable by Bean, but endorsements from every major Chicago-area newspaper, along with strong fundraising via several liberal blogs and rising political star Barack Obama, helped make her challenge more substantial. The national and state GOP did their best to salvage the seat, but Crane lost the election by 4 points.


Preceded by:
Donald Rumsfeld
U.S. Representative of Illinois's 8th Congressional District
1969 – 2005
Succeeded by:
Melissa Bean

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