Ralph R. Harding
Harding in 1963
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Idaho's 2nd district
January 3, 1961 - January 3, 1965
|Member of the Idaho State Legislature|
|Born||September 9, 1929|
Malad City, Idaho
|Died||October 26, 2006 (aged 77)|
|Resting place||Malad City Cemetery|
Malad City, Idaho
|Spouse(s)||Wilhelmina Conrad Harding|
(m.1954–2006, his death)
|Children||2 sons, 3 daughters|
|Years of service||1951–1953|
Born in Malad City, Idaho, Harding served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah in 1956, after serving in Korea from 1951 to 1953 in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.
Harding served in the Idaho state legislature from 1955 to 1956. He ran against Republican congressman Hamer Budge, a ten-year incumbent in Idaho's 2nd district in 1960. Harding pulled off an upset victory with 51.1 percent, winning by 4,000 votes. He was re-elected in 1962, but was one of the few incumbent Democrats in the U.S. House who lost to Republican challengers even as President Lyndon B. Johnson won in a landslide in 1964. Many attribute Harding's congressional defeat to a speech he made in the U.S. House of Representatives for criticizing LDS Apostle Ezra Taft Benson for being a "spokesman for the radical right of this nation."
Benson was Secretary of Agriculture for two terms during the Eisenhower administration. After he left the Department of Agriculture, Benson vigorously supported the views of John Birch Society founder Robert Welch. In his book "The Patriot" Welch called Eisenhower a communist sympathizer. In a letter to Harding, Eisenhower thanked Harding for defending him against Welch's allegations. LDS members constituted a large portion of the population in Harding's Idaho congressional district.
After his 1964 defeat, Harding served as special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force. In 1966, Harding won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by Republican incumbent Len Jordan in the general election.
|1960||Ralph Harding||90,161||53.0%||Hamer Budge (inc.)||86,100||47.0%|
|1962||Ralph Harding (inc.)||83,152||52.8%||Orval Hansen||74,203||47.2%|
|1964||Ralph Harding (inc.)||84,022||47.8%||George Hansen||91,838||51.8%|
|1966||Ralph Harding||112,637||44.6%||Len Jordan (inc.)||139,819||55.4%|
Harding attempted to regain the 2nd district seat again in 1978, but lost the Democratic primary to Stan Kress. He then worked on a variety of business ventures, including representing the Philippine sugar industry and attempting to launch an Asian version of the NBA.
Harding died at the age of seventy-seven in Blackfoot. According to a news report in the Idaho Statesman, a cause of death was not released by the hospital or family at the time of his death. He is interred at Malad City Cemetery in Malad City.
Harding was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Harding and baseball hall of famer Harmon Killebrew of Payette co-founded the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial, formerly the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament, in 1977. The tournament is held annually in Sun Valley in late August to benefit leukemia and cancer research at St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute in Idaho and Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.
This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| United States House of Representatives, Idaho Second Congressional District
January 3, 1961–January 4, 1965
|Party political offices|
| Democratic Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
William E. Davis