|Preceded by Ezekiel C. Gathings|
Party Democratic Party
|Name William Alexander,|
Political party Democratic
Succeeded by Blanche Lincoln
|Born January 16, 1934 (age 81)
Memphis, Tennessee (1934-01-16) |
Alma mater University of Arkansas Rhodes College Vanderbilt University
Residence Osceola, Arkansas, United States
Education University of Arkansas, Vanderbilt University, Rhodes College
William Vollie “Bill” Alexander Jr. (born January 16, 1934) is a retired American politician who represented the U.S. state of Arkansas in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1993, rising to the post of Chief Deputy Majority Whip.
Alexander was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated from Osceola High School in Osceola, Arkansas, in 1951. He is an Eagle Scout and former 4-H member. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College in Memphis in 1957. He earned a law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville in 1960. While at the University of Arkansas, Alexander was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity (Xi Chapter).
He was elected as a Democrat from the 1st District of Arkansas in 1968 and was repeatedly re-elected until 1992, when he was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary by his former receptionist and future U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln. Alexander was one of numerous members of Congress linked to the House banking scandal, although he broke no laws nor violated any House rules.
Most of Alexander's earlier elections were won by at least 65 percent of the vote in a heavily Democratic district. In his first election, he defeated the Republican Guy Newcomb, also of Osceola, for the right to succeed the retiring Representative Ezekiel C. Gathings.
In 1976, Alexander defeated the farmer, seed merchant, and later Republican state chairman Harlan "Bo" Holleman of Wynne in Cross County. In 1982, he defeated the Republican Charles A. "Chuck" Banks, who later became United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor in 2006.
However, later in his career, Alexander became controversial for his frequent trips overseas and his partisan, liberal voting record. He was nearly defeated in the 1986 and 1990 Democratic primaries before his landslide defeat in 1992.
During his 24-year tenure in Congress Alexander served 22 years as a member of the Democratic Leadership attaining the position of Chief Deputy Whip, fourth in rank in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Alexander was selected for numerous special assignments including: Member, US Team for the US-USSR Dialogue (during the height of the Cold War); Special US Envoy to Cuba (negotiated the US-Cuba Agenda with President Fidel Castro); US Negotiator at US-Japan Rice Summit (Reached a solution to the rice dumping issue); US Emissary to Nicaragua (He negotiated US position with Sandinista revolutionary government); US Emissary to the Peoples Republic of China (in association with normalization of diplomatic relations); US Emissary to Grenada (Assisted in organizing a new government following liberation); and served as Chairman, The Speaker's Task Force on Central America (during the counter-revolution).
As the Founder, House Export Task Force, Alexander sponsored legislation to create the Foreign Commercial Service in US Embassies; and, sponsored establishment of agricultural trade offices in 23 countries. He was Founder, Mississippi Valley International Trade Center and was named Man-of-the-Year for leadership in international trade by the National Trade Net.
Bill Alexander is married to Debi Alexander and has three children, Alyse Alexander, William Phillips "Alex" Alexander, and Ashley Semmes Alexander.