Joseph Davies "Joe" Tydings (Cheesborough)
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About Joseph D. Tydings, U.S. Senator
Joseph Davies Tydings (born May 4, 1928) is a former Democratic member of the United States Senate, representing the state of Maryland from 1965 to 1971.
Born in North Carolina, Tydings moved to Maryland as a youth after he was adopted by Millard Tydings, U.S. Senator from Maryland. After serving in the military, he obtained his law degree and entered into practice. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1955 to 1961, and as United States Attorney from 1961 until his resignation in 1963 to run for Senate.
Tydings won election to the Senate in 1964. However, his controversial stances on gun control and crime in the District of Columbia cost him re-election in 1970. He made another attempt at his old seat in 1976, but was defeated in the Democratic primary election by Paul Sarbanes. He later served as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University System of Maryland, and continues to practice law.
Tydings was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but attended the public schools of Aberdeen, Maryland. He was adopted as a child by his stepfather, Millard Tydings, who also was a Maryland Senator. He went on to graduate from the McDonogh School in 1946, the University of Maryland, College Park in 1950 where he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, and the University of Maryland School of Law in 1953.
Following the Second World War, Tydings served as a corporal in the Sixth Constabulary Regiment of the United States Army's European occupation. After his service, he was admitted to the bar in 1952 and was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1955 from Harford County, Maryland.
Tydings served as a delegate until 1961, when he was appointed United States Attorney for Maryland by President John F. Kennedy, a close friend. As U.S. Attorney, Tydings oversaw the prosecution of several people in the savings and loan business. In 1963, Tydings served as the United States representative at the Interpol Conference in Helsinki, Finland, and at the International Penal Conference in Bellagio, Italy.
1964 United States Senate election
In the 1964 elections, Tydings was frequently mentioned as a potential candidate to compete for the United States Senate seat of Republican J. Glenn Beall, Sr. While initially hesitant, Tydings resigned as U.S. Attorney on November 21, 1963 to test his political support across the state. On January 14, 1964, Tydings officially declared his candidacy, stating he was challenging the "old guard" of the Maryland Democratic Party political machine. He also said he would work to bring a "new era of leadership into Maryland".
During the primary election in May 1964, Tydings faced Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who had won the endorsement of both J. Millard Tawes, Governor of Maryland, and Daniel Brewster, the other U.S. Senator from Maryland. Despite the support of the party leaders, Goldstein was trounced by Tydings in the primary, losing by nearly a two-to-one margin.
Having secured his party's nomination, Tydings moved forward to face Beall in the general election. The final election results gave Tydings nearly 63% of 1,081,042 votes cast. His large margin of victory was due at least in part to the landslide win by fellow Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson for President in the same election, which likely increased voter turnout.
Upon his election, Tydings began to lay out his legislative agenda for his upcoming term, which included water conservation, pollution and air purity, and mass transportation. He also expressed interest in serving on the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia. Tydings was permitted to serve on the committee, and was eventually appointed chairman in 1969.
Bid for re-election
Leading up to the elections of 1970, Tydings faced criticism from both parties for his actions as senator. In July 1970, syndicated columnist Marquis Childs noted that Tydings' problems on the left stemmed from his support of a crime bill for the District of Columbia, which was perceived as repressive against African Americans. There was also criticism directed at the bill for writing into law the practices of preventive detention and no knock warrants.
Tydings' difficulties with the right stemmed from his sponsorship of the Firearms Registration and Licensing Act, which would have required the registration of firearms. An avid hunter himself, his efforts agitated the gun lobby and the NRA. One Maryland activist group, Citizens Against Tydings, was formed solely because of Tydings' gun registration platform. Further complicating his relations with the right were the efforts by the American Security Council Foundation, which graded him as a "zero" on national security issues and spent over $150,000 to campaign against his bid for re-election.
For the general election, Tydings' opponent was freshman Congressman J. Glenn Beall, Jr. from Western Maryland, the son of J. Glenn Beall, Sr., whom Tydings had defeated in 1965. Beall's campaign strategy "leaned heavily on his affable, noncontroversial personality" and avoided turning the campaign negative. As a result of Tydings' unpopularity and Beall's campaign strategy, Tydings was defeated 51% to 48%.
In a review of the election, The Washington Post noted one of Tydings' major problems was identifying with his constituents. Despite the 3-1 advantage of registered Democrats versus Republicans in the state, Tydings had been labeled as an "ultraliberal" by many Marylanders, and Vice President Spiro Agnew, formerly the Governor of Maryland, had called Tydings "radical" while campaigning for Beall. Tydings was also wealthy, and was seen as having an "aloof" disposition.
Return to politics
Tydings resumed his legal career after he lost his Senate seat, entering into practice with a Washington law firm that included Giant Food President John Danzansky. After several years out of politics, he began traveling the state in 1975 to gauge his chances for winning a rematch versus Beall, who was coming up for re-election in 1976. On January 10, 1976, Tydings announced his candidacy to retake the seat, which he argued was taken unfairly in 1970 due to an undisclosed $180,000 gift to the Beall campaign.
In the primary, Tydings faced a strong challenge from Congressman Paul Sarbanes, who had entered the race several months earlier. This head start gave Sarbanes a considerable organizational and monetary advantage, and he had already secured influential endorsements. To fend off Sarbanes, Tydings hoped his name recognition and charisma on television would compensate for Sarbanes' other advantages. He also worked to relabel himself as more fiscally conservative than Sarbanes, since both candidates were seen as liberal.
For the primary election, Tydings needed a large margin of victory from precincts in the Washington, D.C. suburbs of Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, where he was most popular. However, despite Tydings winning both counties, Sarbanes performed well in the rest of the state and defeated Tydings by over 100,000 votes, 61% to 39%. Sarbanes had managed to outspend Tydings two-to-one during the campaign. After defeating Tydings, Sarbanes won the general election and served as senator until 2007.
After defeat, Tydings returned to his law career at Dazansky's firm. He also worked as a partner in the law firm of Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey, which collapsed in 1987. Later, Tydings worked at Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky from 1988 until his departure with Jerold Oshinsky in 1996 to join Dickstein Shapiro in Washington, D.C. As of 2008, he is a senior counsel at Dickstein Shapiro.
In academics, Tydings was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland from 1974 to 1984, serving as chairman from 1982 to 1984; it became University of Maryland, College Park in 1988. He later served as a member of Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland from 2000 to 2005. In September 2008, he was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to the board of the University of Maryland Medical System. As of 2005, he resides in Harford County, Maryland.