About John M. Ashbrook
John Milan Ashbrook (September 21, 1928 – April 24, 1982) was an American politician of the Republican Party who served in the United States House of Representatives from Ohio from 1961 until his death. His father was William A. Ashbrook, a newspaper editor, businessman, and U.S. representative.
After graduating from Harvard University in 1952 and from Ohio State University's law school in 1955, Ashbrook became publisher of his late father's newspaper, the Johnstown Independent. He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1956 and served two terms. In 1960 his father's old seat in the U.S. House of Representatives was vacated; Ashbrook ran for and won it.
1964 presidential election
With William Rusher and F. Clifton White, associates from the Young Republicans in the 1950s, Ashbrook was involved in the start-up of the Draft Goldwater movement in 1961.
1972 presidential election
In the 1972 presidential election, Ashbrook ran against incumbent Richard Nixon in some state primaries as an alternative conservative candidate. His slogan "No Left Turns" was illustrated by a mock traffic symbol of a left-turn arrow with a superimposed No symbol. It was meant to symbolize the frustration of some conservatives with Nixon, whom they saw as having abandoned conservative principles and "turned left" on issues such as budget deficits, affirmative action, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, wage and price controls, the gold standard, and most of all, improving relations with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China with his policy of détente.
Ashbrook competed in the New Hampshire (9.8% of the vote), Florida (9%), and California (10%) primaries. He withdrew from the race after the California primary and "with great reluctance" supported Nixon. To this day, his campaign, although of minimal immediate impact, is remembered fondly by conservatives who admire Ashbrook for having stood for their principles.
When Nixon became mired in the Watergate scandal, Ashbrook became the first House Republican to call for the President's resignation.
Sudden death and legacy
In 1982, after announcing his intention to seek the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum, Ashbrook died suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive gastric hemorrhage.
His wife, Jean Spencer Ashbrook, was chosen in a special election to serve the remainder of his Congressional term.
The Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University is named for Ashbrook. A periodic John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner at the center features leading conservative speakers from President Ronald Reagan (first dinner; dedication of the Center, in 1983) and Margaret Thatcher (1993) to Mitt Romney (April, 2010) and John Boehner (June, 2011).
Ronald Reagan was president at the time of Ashbrook's death. He honored him with these words: "John Ashbrook was a man of courage and principle. He served his constituents and his country with dedication and devotion, always working towards the betterment of his fellow man. His patriotism and deep belief in the greatness of America never wavered and his articulate and passionate calls for a return to old-fashioned American values earned him the respect of all who knew him."