|Preceded by Roman Hruska|
Succeeded by David Karnes
Spouse(s) Cecile "Cece" Rottman
Role Former American senator
Preceded by Eugene A. Leahy
Name Edward Zorinsky
Resigned March 6, 1987
|Born November 11, 1928
Omaha, Nebraska (1928-11-11) |
Alma mater University of Minnesota Creighton University University of Nebraska Harvard University
Died March 6, 1987, Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Education Creighton University, Harvard University, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, University of Minnesota
Political party Republican Party, Democratic Party
Previous office Senator (NE) 1976–1987
Edward Zorinsky (November 11, 1928 – March 6, 1987) was an American politician. A Democrat, he served as a U.S. Senator from Nebraska from 1976 until his death from a heart attack in Omaha, Nebraska in 1987. He was the first Jew elected to statewide office in Nebraska.
Early life and career
Edward Zorinsky was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He received his early education at Saunders and Rosehill elementary schools in his native city, and graduated from Central High School in 1945. He attended the University of Minnesota (1945-1946) and Creighton University (1946-1948) before completing his studies at the University of Nebraska, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and zoology in 1949.
For twenty-three years, Zorinsky worked in the wholesale tobacco and candy business. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1949 to 1962. He enrolled at Harvard University in 1966 to pursue his graduate work, and later served as a member of the Nebraska Judicial Qualifications Commission (1968-1971) and of the Board of Directors for Omaha Public Power District (1969-1973). From 1973 to 1977, he served as Mayor of Omaha. He earned a great deal of popularity due to his response to a blizzard and a series of tornadoes that hit Omaha in 1975.
In 1976, Zorinsky, a hitherto lifelong Republican, decided to run for the U.S. Senate after 22-year incumbent Roman Hruska decided not to seek re-election. However, when it became apparent he would not win the Republican nomination, he switched parties and became a Democrat. He defeated Hess Dyas, a former state party chairman, for the Democratic nomination. In the general election, he defeated U.S. Representative John Y. McCollister by a margin of 53%-47%. With his victory, he became the first Democratic Senator elected from Nebraska since 1934 and the first Jewish person ever to win a statewide election in Nebraska.
Hruska resigned from the Senate on December 27, 1976, and Governor J. James Exon subsequently appointed Zorinsky to the seat he had won in November. He was re-elected to a second term in 1982, receiving over 66% of the vote. As a Senator, Zorinsky was a moderate to conservative Democrat, voting with Republicans on some significant issues. He was courted by the Republicans to rejoin their party in 1982. He hinted that he might indeed change parties in 1986, but ultimately never made the switch. Zorinsky served as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, in which position he advocated for financial and military assistance to the new Sandinista National Liberation Front regime in Nicaragua in 1979.
Zorinsky died after suffering a heart attack at the 1987 Omaha Press Club ball. After his death, one of the largest man-made lakes in Nebraska was named after him. Ed Zorinsky Lake is located in Douglas County, in the City of Omaha.