|United States Senator|
January 3, 1993 - January 3, 2011
Robert Foster Bennett
September 18, 1933
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
|Died||May 4, 2016 (aged 82)|
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
|Resting place||Salt Lake City Cemetery|
|Education||University of Utah (BA)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1957-1969|
|Unit||Utah Army National Guard|
Army Chaplain Corps
Robert Foster "Bob" Bennett (September 18, 1933 - May 4, 2016) was an American politician and businessman. He was a United States Senator from Utah as a member of the Republican Party. Bennett held chairmanships and senior positions on a number of key Senate committees, including the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Appropriations Committee; Rules and Administration Committee; Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and Joint Economic Committee.
Bennett was a popular and reliably conservative senator for most of his tenure, earning high ratings from conservative activist groups such as the National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and American Conservative Union. However, in 2010 Bennett became one of the most prominent targets of the Tea Party Movement, which criticized his support of the Bush Administration's bank bailout and argued that Bennett was insufficiently conservative. Despite an enthusiastic endorsement from Mitt Romney, Bennett was denied a place on the primary ballot by the 2010 Utah State Republican Convention, placing third behind two Tea-Party-backed candidates.
Following his exit from the Senate, Bennett joined the law firm Arent Fox as senior policy advisor. He also became Chairman of Bennett Group, a consulting firm with offices in Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., and announced his intention to become a registered lobbyist in early 2013, after being out of office for the legally required two years. He served as a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he focused on budget, energy, and health issues, Bennett was a part-time teacher, researcher, and lecturer at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics and was a fellow at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. He was a member of the Board of the German Marshall Fund.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (September 2016)
Born on September 18, 1933 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Bennett was the son of Frances Marion (née Grant) and the U.S. Senator Wallace Foster Bennett, as well as a grandson of Heber J. Grant, the seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and a great-grandson of Jedediah M. Grant (Heber J. Grant's father) and Daniel H. Wells (through Heber J. Grant's wife Emily H. Wells), early mayors of Salt Lake City and counselors in the First Presidency of the LDS Church.
Bennett attended high school at East High, and he earned his B.S. from the University of Utah in 1957 majoring in Political Science. He also served as the Student Body President at the University of Utah and was initiated into Owl and Key. After graduation in 1957, Bennett joined the Utah Army National Guard and spent six months on active duty. Upon his return, he was commissioned a Chaplain in the Guard and served until 1960. He was employed at Bennett's, a family paint and glass business, until 1962, when he left to work full-time on his father's re-election campaign.
In 1963 he went to Washington as Press Secretary to a Utah Congressman, Sherman P. Lloyd, and later as Administrative Assistant to his father. He became the head of the Governmental Affairs office of the J. C. Penney Company in 1965 but resigned from Penney's to accept an appointment in the Nixon Administration, as Director of Congressional Affairs in the United States Department of Transportation. He held this position through 1969 and 1970, leaving in 1971 to purchase the Robert Mullen Company, a Washington, D.C. public-relations company.
Bennett's principal client was Summa Corporation, the holding company of billionaire Howard Hughes. In 1974, he closed the Mullen Company and joined Summa full-time as the public relations director for the parent firm and Vice President for Public Affairs for Hughes Airwest, the airline. After Hughes' death, Bennett left Summa Corporation to become president of Osmond Communications.
He subsequently became chairman of American Computer Corporation, and then president of the Microsonics Corporation, a public firm listed on NASDAQ. In 1984, Bennett was named as the CEO of the Franklin International Institute, a startup that produced Franklin Day Planners and grew into Franklin Quest, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1992. After being named Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region by Inc. Magazine, he stepped down as CEO in 1991, prior to his run for the Senate.
A Senate seat opened up in 1992, when Jake Garn declined to enter the race for a fourth term. Bennett narrowly won the heavily contested Republican Party primary election (with 51% of the votes cast) in 1992, his primary opponent being Joseph A. Cannon, another millionaire with prominent LDS forebears. Bennett then went on to defeat his Democratic opponent, Congressman Wayne Owens, in the general election. He was re-elected in 1998 and 2004. His Democratic opponent in 2004 was the former state Attorney General Paul Van Dam, and Bennett won by a vote total of 68% to 29%.
Bennett was challenged by seven other Republicans and two Democrats in his bid for re-election in 2010, including Mike Lee, Cherilyn Eagar, Tim Bridgewater, and Democrats Sam Granato and Christopher Stout. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff dropped out of the race, citing family concerns.
Despite a strong approval rating among statewide voters, Bennett was defeated on May 8, 2010, at the Utah Republican Convention after finishing third in the second round of balloting, to Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater.
After the convention, Senator Bennett was widely encouraged by his constituents and colleagues to pursue a write-in bid to retain his U.S. Senate seat, but ultimately declined, citing the toxic atmosphere such a bid would bring to the state's political environment.
During the 106th Congress, Bennett was tapped by then Majority Leader, Bill Frist, to serve as the Chief Deputy Republican Party "Whip". Later, as Counsel to Mitch McConnell, Senator Bennett was an influential member of the Republican Leadership Team and advised the Minority Leader on "legislative strategy and policy priorities".
Bennett was a strong opponent of abortion and supported measures to restrict it. These included requirements of parental notification for one to take place and bans on allowing minors to cross state lines to obtain the procedure and late-term abortions. He showed some support, however, for embryonic stem cell research.
On March 25, 2010, during the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 debate, the U.S. Senate defeated an attempt by Bennett to "suspend the issuance of marriage licenses to any couple of the same sex until the people of the District of Columbia have the opportunity to hold a referendum or initiative on the question".
Bennett was a supporter of a flat tax and also was a leading voice for the repeal of the inheritance tax, Alternative Minimum Tax and "marriage penalty". He stated that it was unfair for the tax burden to fall on the wealthiest one percent of the population. Bennett voted against minimum wage increases and bills that would increase the ease in which workers could organize.
A free trade advocate, Bennett voted in favor of CAFTA, presidential fast-tracking for normalizing trade relations, and removing common goods from national security export controls. He favored recent trade deals with countries such as Chile, Singapore, and Oman.
Bennett was an opponent of public health care and blamed government policies for the high cost of insurance. He voted against proposals to expand government health care, such as those that would let Medicare negotiate in bulk with drug companies or those that would enroll more children in federally provided insurance. He also voted against the State Children's Health Insurance Program. During his final Senate campaign, he stated that high taxes were causing insurers to pass the costs off to customers. He believed that new drugs were not being properly developed because pharmaceutical companies feared lawsuits if unexpected side effects occurred.
Bennett had a mixed record on immigration control. He voted in favor of the fence along the Mexico-United States border, making English the nation's official language and denying citizenship rights to guest workers. He voted for the 2006 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, which would have granted legalization of status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.
Bennett earned a lifetime score of 6% from the League of Conservation Voters. He was against Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, defining goals for a 40 percent reduction in oil use by 2025 and factoring global warming into government planning. Bennett supported Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling and using nuclear power as an energy solution. He also voted against providing emergency energy funding to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
In 1962, Bennett married Joyce McKay, a granddaughter of David O. McKay, the ninth president of the LDS Church. This couple has six children: Julie, Robert, James, Wendy, Heather, and Heidi. Bob and Joyce together have 20 grandchildren.
Bennett spent the last days of his life apologizing to the Muslim community for controversial rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates, including the eventual nominee and overall victor, Donald Trump.
|51%||Joseph A. Cannon||49%|
|Year||Democrat||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|1992||Wayne Owens||301,228||40%||420,069||55%||Morrow||Populist||17,549||2%||Maury Modine||Libertarian||14,341||2%||Patricia Grogan||Socialist Workers||5,292||1%|
|1998||163,172||33%||Robert F. Bennett||316,652||64%||Van Horn||Independent American||15,073||3%||*|
|2004||258,955||28%||Robert F. Bennett||626,640||69%||Constitution||17,289||2%||Joe LaBonte||Personal Choice||8,824||1%||*|
* Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1998, write-ins received 12 votes. In 2004, write-ins received 18 votes.
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Utah
1992, 1998, 2004
|New office|| Senate Republican Chief Deputy Whip
| United States Senator (Class 3) from Utah
Served alongside: Orrin Hatch