|November 13, 2013
|Former Sen. Larry Pressler: a Republican-turned-independent.(Rick Bloom)
Larry Pressler of South Dakota served in the Senate for 18 years. He's changed a lot since then.
A former three-term Republican senator publicly mulling whether to make a comeback as an independent candidate counts as news. And Larry Pressler's potential South Dakota Senate candidacy sounds more intriguing the more he talks.
Like, say, about whether he think he could actually win an election again.
"I think it's possible but unlikely," the 71-year-old told National Journal. "I think maybe I'd be like William Buckley. If I won the election, I would demand a recount."
A day after the news broke that Pressler was considering a campaign, few political strategists knew what to make of his candidacy. Any candidate who doubts his own chances of victory is easy to dismiss. The fate of South Dakota's Senate race, more than most, seems fixed: Former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, assuming he survives a primary nuisance, appears headed for the Senate in a solidly Republican state. Democrats failed to recruit a top-tier contender there.
But Pressler, who has spent much of his post-Senate career as a professor at several universities in South Dakota, isn't a gadfly. He served as South Dakota's GOP senator from 1979 to 1997. His name is still familiar to many South Dakota voters. And although he served as a Republican then, he'd run as an independent now, attempting to capitalize on widespread voter dissatisfaction with both parties.
Pressler is right: He's a long shot. But his authenticity and candid comments could spice up an otherwise boring race. With polls reporting record dissatisfaction with the federal government, his candidacy could test whether voters would ever actually turn to an independent candidacy as an outlet for their frustration.
In an interview, he detailed a platform reminiscent of the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan (he volunteered for the high-profile group Fix the Debt). He wants to close tax loopholes, and he favors another broad tax increase on the rich similar to what was included as part of this year's fiscal-cliff deal. He also wants to gradually raise the Social Security retirement age, and supports slowing the growth of those payments, calling such an outcome "wonderful."
Pressler, a self-described hunter, supports "much, much stronger background checks" for gun sales and banning some, if not all, assault rifles. He demurred when asked whether he would want to ban abortions at 20 weeks, but described himself as more on "antiabortion" side of the debate. He describes a foreign policy vision in which America scales back its defense budget and its involvement in international affairs.
The former lawmaker says he sees a political system in which both parties are too entrenched in their respective ideologies, at the expense of commonsense solutions. And he thinks voters see things the same way.
"We could have a budget deal very easily, and everybody is angry because we can't we do it," Pressler said. "My theory is by electing more independents … this might break it loose."
But despite his eagerness for raising taxes and cutting entitlement programs, those aren't politically popular issues--even for independent-minded voters. His former GOP supporters will find plenty in his record to complain about. He supported President Obama twice and embraces gay marriage. Although he and his wife have retained a home in South Dakota, he estimated he's only spent 10 percent to 20 percent of his time there in the last decade, splitting the bulk of his days between Washington and foreign countries. And he concedes that many of the people who once voted for him have either moved away or are now dead.
Pressler says there's a "60/40" chance he'll run; he'll spend the remaining weeks of 2013 traveling South Dakota and make a decision by January.
|2013 BIOGRAPHY–US SENATOR LARRY PRESSLER
Attorney at Law
Admitted to The New York Bar,
The Washington DC Bar and U.S. Supreme Court Bar
4301 W. 57th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57108
|[Member US Senate, 1979-1997]
|[Member US House, 1975-1979]
Recent Activities –
- U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad – Commissioner. Appointed by President Barack Obama on November 10, 2009
- 2013 - Member of the Congressional Fiscal Leadership Council for the Campaign to Fix the Debt (Simpson-Bowles Group)
- Distinguished Visiting Faculty at Sciences Po University, Paris, France - August 27-December 1, 2012– Taught and graded papers of French graduate students on foreign policy issues drawn from the 2012 U.S. elections
- Pressler Group Law Firm
- Blackhorse Enhanced Vietnam Inc. University Board of Directors
- Board, Jericho Homeless Veterans Projects in Harlem and the Bronx
- Distinguished Guest Lecturer at Georgetown University Law School and Catholic University
- Board of Advisors, Baruch School of Public Administration, City University of New York
- Keynote Speaker, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting in Sheraton, Wyoming on 02/29/2012, "Can we live with Simpson-Bowles?"
- Chairman, U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress Annual Meeting and Jobs Conference, "How America's Workforce Can Remain Competitive in a Global Economy" on 07/10/2012
- Currently Finalist for Additional Fulbright Professor Grant, 2014
- South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation Board
- Special Advisor, India Globalization Capital
- Senior Advisor, A-1Technology Inc / Mobile Programming LLC
Born March 29, 1942, Humboldt, South Dakota – Graduated Humboldt High School 1960
Harvard Law School- Juris Doctor, 1971
Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government- Masters in Public Administration, 1966
Oxford University, Oxford, England – Oxford Diploma in Public and Social Administration, Rhodes Scholar, 1964
University of South Dakota , Vermillion, SD – B.A. Government, 1964; President of Student Body; Phi Beta Kappa
Lieutenant, U.S. Army: 1966-1968
- Served two tours of combat duty in Vietnam
- Awarded the following Vietnam Service Medals: Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars, Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device (1960), Overseas Svc Bars (2), and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/Palm Unit Citation Badge
Foreign Service Officer (FSR): 1971-1974
- Legal Advisor's Office, Washington, D.C. and Geneva, Switzerland
Member of United States Congress (R-SD): 1975-1997
- Member, US House of Representatives: 1975-1979
- Committee on Education and Labor (1975-1979)
- Committee on Science and Technology (1975-1977)
- Committee on Small Business (1977-1979)
- Member, US Senate: 1979-1997
- Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (1979–1997)
- Chairman of Full Committee (1995–1997)
- Chairman of Subcommittee on Telecommunications (1995–1997)
- Committee on Finance (1995–1997)
- Committee on Foreign Relations (1981–1995)
- Chairman of European Subcommittee and Chairman of the Arms Control Subcommittee
- Committee on Small Business (1979–1997)
- Ranking Member of Full Committee (1993–1995)
- Committee on Environment and Public Works (1979–81, 1983–85)
- Committee on Banking (1991–1993)
- Committee on Judiciary (1993–1995)
- Committee on Budget (1979–1981)
- Highlights of Congressional Activity
- Authored/passed several South Dakota issues/projects regarding senior citizens, agriculture, water, transportation, economic issues, telecommunications, health and other matters affecting South Dakota
- Authored/passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996
- Authored/passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 1996
- Authored/passed the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995
- Authored/passed significant nuclear non-proliferation legislation (Pressler Amendment)
- Authored/passed legislation creating independent U.N. Inspector General office
- Authored/passed numerous pieces of legislation regarding international trade
- Authored/passed the Pressler Amendment requiring sanctions on Pakistan for using U.S. in terrorist and nuclear activities
- Authored two books: U.S. Senators from the Prairie, 1982; Star Wars: The Strategic Defense Initiative Debates in Congress, 1986
- Served as Congressional Delegate to the United Nations on two occasions
- Co-founding member of the Senate Internet Caucus and Tourism Caucus
- Served on the Boards of Visitors of the U.S. Military Academy and the Air Force Academy
Other Business History: 1997-Present
- Blackhorse Enhanced Vietnam Inc fund - Member of the Board of Directors. Recently the fund acquired the largest vocational school in Vietnam. 2006-Present.
- Jericho Project's Veterans Advisory Council- New York City. Current projects involve the construction of two homeless facilities for veterans in the Bronx for the Jericho Project's Veterans Initiative. 2008-Present.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Infosys Technologies, Ltd. of Bangalore, India for six years from 2000 until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 in 2006. Since then he has been a speaker at the Infosys Annual Strategic Planning Meeting in Bangalore and Mysore, India
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange until it was purchased by the NASDAQ
- Active member of the New York, D.C., and US Supreme Court Bars.
- Pressler Group LLC - founder, Washington D.C. and New York. 2002-present
- O'Connor, Hannon Law Firm - Senior Partner. Washington, D.C. 1997-2002
Academic History: 1996-Present
- Finalist for Additional Fulbright Professor Grant, January/February 2014
- Sciences Po University, Paris, France – Distinguished Visiting Faculty, August-December 2012
- University of Bologna, Italy –Visiting Fulbright Professor, January-May 2009.
- Lectured to doctoral candidates at the Department of Politics and History on the foreign policy decisions of the U.S. President/Congress during the last ten presidencies
- Lectured as a Fulbright Professor at the University of Cagliari in Sardinia and at the University of Naples—March 2009.
- Lectured at Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv, on "President Obama's Foreign Policy: Engagement and Its Limits". Israel – March 2009
- Lectured to the Society of Individualists at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Bologna, Italy—2009.
- Lectured to various Hungarian Universities at the request of the Hungarian Fulbright Commission, 2009.
- Thomas Hawkins Johnson Visiting Scholar, U.S. Military Academy, West Point. Fall 2006.
- Lectured on international relations, presidential studies and government classes at West Point.
- Conducted a seminar of junior and senior West Point cadets applying for Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Truman, Gates, Rotary, Mitchell (to Ireland), Hertz, and other graduate fellowships.
- Additional teaching/lectures at the following universities: The Harvard Law School; Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Oxford University (England); University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA); Georgetown; The George Washington University; The U.S. Naval Academy; The Oglala Sioux SinteGleska University; University of South Dakota; Creighton; Catholic University, St. Johns University, New York, N.Y. and the St. John's University Graduate School of Business (Rome, Italy); and Adjunct Professor at City University of New York (CUNY, Baruch College (New York), St. John's University (Rome, Italy); The Indian National School of Law (Bangalore, India); Fudan University (China); Shanghai International Studies University (China); TongJi University (China); Zhongshan University (China); GuangDong University of Foreign Studies (China); and JiNan University (China).
- Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany - The President of Germany bestowed on Senator Pressler the German government's highest honor awarded a non-German citizen in a ceremony at the German Embassy and the U.S. Capitol. The award was given for Senator Pressler's work on European/German aviation and trade agreements. Senator Pressler has also been given high recognition by the governments of Greece, the Philippines, and England for his public service.
- Senator Pressler spoke in five Bosnia-Herzegovina cities on how U.S. Congressional oversight committees work in March, 2008.
- Keynote Speaker -US Embassy in Budapest, Hungary: Conference on the Upcoming US Election, October 14, 2008.
- Keynote Speaker at the Infosys Technologies Ltd. Annual Strategy meeting in Bangalore/Mysore, India. January 7-9, 2009.
- Keynote Speaker at the Future of Financial Markets Conference in Goa, India. January 2010.
- Married to Harriet, with one daughter (Laura) and four grandchildren who reside in Newburyport, Massachusetts