Howard Cannon, U.S. Senator

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Howard Walter Cannon

Birthdate: (90)
Birthplace: St. George, Washington County, Utah, United States
Death: March 5, 2002 (90)
Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Walter Cannon and Leah Cannon
Brother of <private>; Ramona Schmutz; Evelyn Jay and Ellen Cannon

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Howard Cannon, U.S. Senator

Howard Walter Cannon (January 26, 1912 – March 5, 2002) was an American politician. He served as a United States Senator from Nevada from 1959 until 1983 as a member of the Democratic Party.

Early life

Cannon was born in Saint George, Utah. He attended the Arizona state teacher's college and the University of Arizona law school. He became a lawyer in Arizona, Nevada and Utah, being accepted to the bar in all three states. In World War II he served as a bomber pilot in the United States Army Air Corps and its subsequent incarnation as the United States Army Air Forces. Assigned to the European theater, he was shot down over the Netherlands in September 1944 and spent 42 days trying to return to the Allied lines with the assistance of the Dutch underground. Released from active duty in 1946, he joined the Army Air Forces Reserve until 1947 when he transitioned to the Air Force Reserve concurrent with the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service. Continuing to fly in the Air Force Reserve, he achieved command pilot status and ultimately retired from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of Major General. His military decorations included the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Air Medal (3 awards). In 1949 Cannon was elected city attorney of Las Vegas, Nevada and reelected three times.

U.S. Senate


In 1956, Cannon ran for the United States House of Representatives to succeed Republican incumbent Clarence Clifton Young, who ran for the U.S. Senate, but lost the Democratic primary to former Congressman Walter Baring, who then won the general election. In 1958, he was elected to the United States Senate, unseating Republican Senator Ernest Malone with 58% of the vote.. Cannon was nearly defeated in his first re-election bid in 1964. Republican Lieutenant Governor Paul Laxalt lost by 48 votes. Only the presence of Lyndon Johnson atop the ticket allowed Cannon to win in one of the closest Senate elections ever. He was re-elected with far less difficulty in 1970 (58%), defeating then Washoe County District Attorney William Raggio. In 1976, he was opposed by former Congressman David Towell and won easily (63%). He ran for a fifth term in 1982, but was challenged in the Democratic primary by Congressman James David Santini. After a bitter campaign, he was renominated a small margin, but was narrowly defeated in the general election by Republican Chic Hecht in a major upset.


In 1964 Cannon voted for the Civil Rights Act. In the Senate, he was known as a moderate in the Democratic Party. In 1981, he was the recipient of the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation. Cannon retired from politics and died in Las Vegas in 2002 at the age of ninety. Senator Cannon was also in attendance at the final performance of Diana Ross and the Supremes in January, 1970.

Committee assignments

He had an interest in the rules and administration of the Congress, serving as chairman of several committees on that subject, including the rules committee and the inaugural arrangements committee.


The passenger terminal at Reno-Tahoe International Airport is named after him.
The Cannon Center for Survey Research is also named after him.
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Howard Cannon, U.S. Senator's Timeline

January 26, 1912
St. George, Washington County, Utah, United States
March 5, 2002
Age 90
Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, United States