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Charles Goodell

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Title: Charles Goodell  
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Subject: James L. Buckley, 90th United States Congress, Robert F. Kennedy, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jacob K. Javits
Collection: 1926 Births, 1987 Deaths, 20Th-Century Lawyers, American Military Personnel of World War II, Appointed United States Senators, Connecticut Lawyers, Members of the United States House of Representatives from New York, New York Lawyers, New York Republicans, People from Jamestown, New York, Quinnipiac University Faculty, Republican Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Republican Party United States Senators, United States Senators from New York, Williams College Alumni, Yale Law School Alumni
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Charles Goodell

Charles 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 38th district
In office
January 3, 1963 – September 9, 1968
Preceded by Jessica M. Weis
Succeeded by James F. Hastings
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)
Personal details
Born Charles Ellsworth Goodell
(1926-03-16)March 16, 1926
Jamestown, New York
Died January 21, 1987(1987-01-21) (aged 60)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jean Rice Goodell
Patricia Goldman Goodell
Children Roger Goodell

Charles Ellsworth Goodell (March 16, 1926 – January 21, 1987) was a U.S. Representative and a Senator from New York. In both cases he came into office following the deaths of his predecessors, first in a special election and second as a temporary appointee.

He was elected to four terms in Congress after winning his first race in 1960. He resigned on September 9, 1968, to accept an appointment by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to fill the vacancy caused by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Having earned the support of both the Republican and Liberal parties in 1970 he lost in a three-way race to a Conservative, having split the liberal vote with a similar leaning Democratic candidate.

Goodell is the father of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Congressional career 2
  • Life after leaving Congress 3
  • Books 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Goodell was born in Jamestown, New York, the son of Francesca (née Bartlett) and Charles Ellsworth Goodell. He attended the public schools of Jamestown and graduated from Williams College (1948). He served in the United States Navy as a Seaman Second Class (1944–46) and in the United States Air Force as a First Lieutenant (1952–53) during the Korean War.

Goodell graduated from Yale Law School (1951) and received a graduate degree from Yale University Graduate School of Government (1952); he was a teacher at Quinnipiac College in New Haven, Connecticut (1952) as well. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar (1951), the New York bar (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).

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.

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

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. 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. 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]

In 1970, the New York Republican Party was split deeply over the issue of the 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 the November 1970 election, 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.

Goodell would be the last appointed U.S. Senator from New York until 2009, when Kirsten Gillibrand was selected to replace Hillary Clinton, who had been appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama.

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 Chairman, of President Gerald Ford's committee to draft rules for granting amnesty to Vietnam War-era draft evaders and deserters.[3]

Goodell was a resident of Washington, D.C., until his death there on January 21, 1987. He was buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown.


  • Goodell, Charles E. Political Prisoners in America. New York: Random House, 1973.


  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
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: Jacob K. Javits
Succeeded by
James L. Buckley
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