George Smathers (1913-2007)

George Smathers, an Atlantic City native andthe nephew of New Jersey’s United States Senator who became a U.S. Senator from Florida, died today. He was 93. Smathers was a member of a the freshman House class of 1946 that included John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon . Smathers ran for the U.S. Senate in 1950, defeating incumbent Claude Pepper in an epic Democratic primary. Time Magazine reported that during that campaign, Smathers asked a rural Florida audience: “Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper before his marriage habitually practiced celibacy.” Smathers strongly denied making those comments and offered a $10,00 reward to anyone who could prove he said it. No one could. He retired from the Senate in 1968 to become a lobbyist.His uncle, William Smathers, defeated incumbent Hamilton Fish Kean, the grandfather of the former Governor, in the 1934 U.S. Senate race.

George Smathers (1913-2007)