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Nancy Kassebaum Baker


Nancy Kassebaum Baker

Nancy Landon Kassebaum
United States Senator
from Kansas
In office
December 23, 1978 – January 3, 1997
Preceded by James B. Pearson
Succeeded by Pat Roberts
Personal details
Born Nancy Landon
(1932-07-29) July 29, 1932 (age 82)
Topeka, Kansas
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Philip Kassebaum (1956–1979; divorce)

Howard Baker (1996-present)

Alma mater University of Kansas
University of Michigan
Religion Episcopalian

Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker (born July 29, 1932) represented the State of Kansas in the United States Senate from 1978 to 1997. She is the daughter of Alf Landon, who was Governor of Kansas from 1933 to 1937 and the 1936 Republican nominee for president. She was the first woman ever elected to a full term in the Senate without her husband having previously served in Congress.[1]

Early life

Baker was born Nancy Landon in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Theo (née Cobb) and Governor Alf Landon.[2] She attended Topeka High School and graduated in 1950. She graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1954, where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. In 1956 she received a master's degree in diplomatic history from the University of Michigan, where she met her first husband, Philip Kassebaum, whom she married in 1956. They settled in Maize, Kansas, where they raised four children. They separated in 1975, and divorced in 1979.[3]

U.S. Senate


She was the first woman elected to a U.S. Senate seat without it being held first by her husband (Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was first elected to the House of Representatives to fill her husband's vacancy, but later won a Senate election), nor appointed to complete a deceased husband's term. She was also the first woman to represent Kansas in the Senate.

She defeated eight other Republicans in the 1978 primary elections to replace retiring Republican James B. Pearson and then defeated former Democratic Congressman Bill Roy (who narrowly lost a previous election bid to Kansas's junior senator, Bob Dole, in 1974) in the general election. She was re-elected to her Senate seat in 1984 and 1990, but did not seek re-election in 1996.


Kassebaum is a moderate-to-liberal Republican who is known for her health care legislation, known as the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was co-sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democrat. She was also active in foreign policy. She expressed strong support of anti-apartheid measures against South Africa in the 1980's and traveled to Nicaragua as both an elections observer and to encourage diplomatic resolutions to the conflict between the Contras and the Sandinistas.

Early in her career, she was tapped to serve as Temporary Chairperson of the 1980 Republican National Convention. Presiding over the first two days of the convention, her appointment to that role was seen by many as a nod from the Reagan campaign to the moderate and liberal wings of the party.

Personal life

She is an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy.

In 1996, she married former U.S. Senator Howard Baker, Jr. of Tennessee.

Her son, William Kassebaum, is a former member of the Kansas House of Representatives. Her other son, filmmaker Richard Kassebaum, died of a brain tumor August 27, 2008 at the age of 47.

See also


External links

  • Congressional Biography
  • Kassebaum, Nancy Landon. To Form a More Perfect Union Presidential Studies Quarterly 18 (Spring 1988): 241-49.
  • Marshall-White, Eleanor (1991). Catalysts for Change: Interpretive Biographies of Shirley St. Hill Chisholm, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Nancy Landon Kassebaum, Vantage Press, ISBN 0-533-09130-6
Preceded by
James B. Pearson
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kansas
Served alongside: Bob Dole, Sheila Frahm, Sam Brownback
Succeeded by
Pat Roberts
Political offices
Preceded by
Ted Kennedy
Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee
Succeeded by
Jim Jeffords

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