For extreme political junkies: how Rumsfeld’s support of Frelinghuysen cost him a seat on the House Appropriations Committee

Helped by Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election, Democrats picked up 36 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, giving them more than two-thirds of the House seats. After that election, a group of moderates challenged challenged conservatives for the top two House Republican leadership posts. Minority Leader Charles Halleck, 64, a sixteen-term Indiana conservative, lost to moderate Gerald Ford, a nine-term moderate from Michigan. Ford then backed a fellow moderate for Minority Whip against the conservative incumbent, Leslie Arends: Peter H.B. Frelinghusyen, a 48-year-old seven-term New Jersey Congressman. Arends, who first went to Congress in 1935, beat Frelinghuysen in a 70-59 vote. Arends then used his clout to deny a seat on the House Appropriations Committee to a fellow Illinois Congressman who had been the chief strategist of the Ford/Frelinghuysen campaign: Donald Rumsfeld, then 32 and about to begin his second term in Congress. Frelinghuysen, who turns 91 in January, spent ten more years in the House and was the Ranking Minority member of the House International Relations Committee when he retired in 1974. His son, Rodney Frelinghuysen, has represented his old district in Congress since 1995 — and serves on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

For extreme political junkies: how Rumsfeld’s support of Frelinghuysen cost him a seat on the House Appropriations Committee