Charles Goodell, U.S. Senator

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Charles Ellsworth Goodell

Birthplace: Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York, United States
Death: January 21, 1987 (60)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Place of Burial: Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Goodell and Francesca Goodell
Husband of Jean Goodell and Patricia Goodell
Father of Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL)

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About Charles Goodell, U.S. Senator

Charles Ellsworth Goodell (March 16, 1926 – January 21, 1987) was a U.S. Representative and a Senator from New York, notable for coming into both offices under special circumstances following the deaths of his predecessors.

Early life and education

Goodell attended the public schools of Jamestown and graduated from Williams College in 1948. He served in the United States Navy as a seaman second class from 1944 to 1946, and in the United States Air Force as a first lieutenant from 1952 to 1953, during the Korean War.

Goodell graduated from Yale Law School in 1951, and also received a graduate degree from Yale University Graduate School of Government in 1952; he was a teacher at Quinnipiac College in New Haven, Connecticut in 1952 as well. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1951, the New York bar in 1954, and began his law practice in Jamestown.

Congressional career

Goodell was a congressional liaison assistant for the Department of Justice in 1954–1955. He won a special election on May 26, 1959, as a Republican to the 86th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Daniel A. Reed. In NY District 43, Goodell polled 27,454 votes (65 percent) to the Democrat Robert E. McCaffery's 14,250 ballots (33.8 percent).

Goodell was re-elected in November 1960 to the 87th Congress, and re-elected three times thereafter. He resigned on September 9, 1968, to accept an appointment, effective September 10, made by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to fill the vacancy caused by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Because the vacancy had occurred so soon before a scheduled general election, a special election to fill the vacancy would not be held for over two years. Public objection to the length of Goodell's appointment led to a failed legal challenge to the Governor's power to appoint Senators in the event of a vacancy, Valenti v. Rockefeller.

Although he had been a moderate to conservative member in the House, as a Senator he was nearly as liberal as New York's other Republican Senator, Jacob K. Javits. In the Senate, Goodell authored and sponsored a large number of bills, including several to provide conservation and development aid to small towns and rural areas. Many small upstate New York communities without municipal sewage systems built them with the aid of federal matching funds provided by Goodell's legislation. He "joined the quasi-pacifist Oregon senator Mark Hatfield as the loudest anti-Vietnam War voices in the Republican Party." Anti-war protesters and activists praised his advocacy of a withdrawal from Vietnam.

Goodell was tall and balding in the center and often wore a tweed jacket. A pipe smoker, he often clenched one between his teeth.

In 1970, the New York Republican Party was split deeply over the issue of the conservatism of much of the grassroots support for the party versus the perceived liberalism of the party organization, leadership, and Governor Rockefeller himself. While Rockefeller's supporters were strong enough within the party and its regular organization to assure Goodell's receiving the party's nomination for what would be his first full term, conservative activists left the party en masse to support someone farther to the right. Additionally, then Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew, alluding to Goodell's shift from moderate-conservative Republican to liberal Republican, went so far as to call him the "Christine Jorgensen of the Republican party," analogizing his ideological shift to Jorgensen's highly publicized sex change. Goodell was not discouraged. Running under the slogan "Senator Goodell — He's too good to lose", he received the nomination of the Liberal Party as well as that of the regular Republican organization, an electoral fusion allowed under New York law.

In the campaign, many printed ads and lamp-post signs urged voters to "Re-Elect Goodell," implying that Goodell had been elected to the Senate. One television ad aired by Goodell's campaign just before election day in 1970 contrasted his record with his two opponents. A voice over the graphics said "New York voters face real choices in this year's Senate election. Congressman Richard Ottinger, the Democratic candidate, who has sponsored two pieces of legislation in six years in the House. Republican Senator Charles Goodell who has sponsored forty-four major pieces of legislation in twenty-two months in the Senate. Conservative nominee James L. Buckley who has an economic plan for the nineteenth century. Those are your choices on election day: the light weight; the heavy weight; and the dead weight."

In November 1970, despite Rockefeller's support and that of the Republican and Liberal parties, Goodell split the liberal vote with Ottinger, and was defeated by Conservative Party candidate Buckley. Goodell finished third, with 24.3 percent of the vote.

Life after leaving Congress

After leaving Congress, Goodell resumed the practice of law. In the mid-1970s, Goodell served as vice-chairman, with former Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton as chair, of President Gerald Ford's committee to draft rules for granting amnesty to Vietnam era draft evaders and deserters.[3]

Goodell was a resident of Washington, D.C. until his death there on January 21, 1987.

His son Roger Goodell is the Commissioner of the National Football League.

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Charles Goodell, U.S. Senator's Timeline

March 16, 1926
Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York, United States
February 19, 1959
Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York, United States
January 21, 1987
Age 60
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Lakeview Cemetery, Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York, United States