For the second time in four days, a former Illinois congressman has died. Philip M. Crane, a Republican from Wauconda who served a Northern Illinois district from 1969-2004, died at age 84. In the 1970s and 80s, the district was considered the most Republican in Illinois, and Crane was one of the early leaders of the nation’s modern conservative movement: He was director of research for 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and he was a founding member of the Republican Study Committee, a group formed among conservative House members to push Republican House leadership to the right.
In particular, Crane was interested in reducing the budget deficit – he said it caused inflation, which was a problem during the 1970s and 80s – maintaining U.S. military strength, and ending the “free ride” social safety net that he contended disincentivized people to work. Crane, an Army veteran, had been a history professor at Bradley University in Peoria. He was elected to Congress in 1969, in a special election to replace Donald Rumsfeld, who was appointed to a position in the Nixon Administration. He won a full term in 1970, and then was elected 16 more times. When he lost a bid for re-election in 2004 to Democrat Melissa Bean, he was the longest-serving Republican in the House.
Crane ran for president in 1980, withdrawing in March, during the Republican primaries. Among Crane’s survivors is his brother, Dan Crane, a dentist who was a congressman from the Danville area from 1979-84.
Last week, former 12-term Congressman Lane Evans of Moline died at age 63.