Charles Goodell

Charles Goodell
Charles E. Goodell
United States Senator
from New York
In office
September 10, 1968 – January 3, 1971
Appointed by Nelson Rockefeller
Preceded by Robert F. Kennedy
Succeeded by James L. Buckley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 43rd district
In office
May 26, 1959 – January 3, 1963
Preceded by Daniel A. Reed
Succeeded by None (District eliminated)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 38th district
In office
January 3, 1963 – September 9, 1968
Preceded by Jessica M. Weis
Succeeded by James F. Hastings
Personal details
Born March 16, 1926(1926-03-16)
Jamestown, New York
Died January 21, 1987(1987-01-21) (aged 60)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican

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).[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] He "joined the quasi-pacifist Oregon senator Mark Hatfield as the loudest anti-Vietnam War voices in the Republican Party."[1] Anti-war protesters and activists praised his advocacy of a withdrawal from Vietnam.[2]

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

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.[citation needed] 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.


  1. ^ Kauffman, Bill (2009-02-23) Guns or Bitter, The American Conservative
  2. ^
  3. ^

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Daniel A. Reed
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 43rd congressional district

District eliminated
Preceded by
Jessica M. Weis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 38th congressional district

Succeeded by
James F. Hastings
United States Senate
Preceded by
Robert F. Kennedy
United States Senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: Jacob K. Javits
Succeeded by
James L. Buckley

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