Bob Child, AP photo.
Former governor and U.S. Senator Lowell Palmer Weicker, Jr. died Wednesday morning at the age of 92 at Middlesex Hospital.
Weicker began in politics in 1964 as first selectman of Greenwich before going on to serve in the Connecticut House of Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and finally governor. He won the governor’s office in 1990 in a three-way race after leaving the Republican Party to form “A Connecticut Party.” He also ran briefly and unsuccessfully for president in 1980.
The two touchstones of his career were his service on the Senate Watergate Committee, where he became the first Republican to call for President Nixon’s resignation, and his effort to push through an income tax to balance the state budget during his first year as governor. The turmoil of that year(1991) still resonates in Connecticut politics and government today.
From a news media perspective, Weicker was almost always willing and ready to talk to reporters, hold court, and at times use blunt language and tough talk to make headlines and win debates. A tall man with a booming voice, he once told a reporter covering the income tax debate that he – at times – would deliberately use his size to intimidate reporters or political opponents.
In 1991, Weicker may have been responsible for resuscitating political reporting in the Hartford/New Haven television market. In the years prior to the great income tax debate of 1991, local stations were moving away from political coverage because it was considered “boring.”
As debate over the income tax grew into a months long stand-off several stations made a point of promoting their political reporters and it was not unusual for every single newscast to lead with news from the Capitol from June to October of that year. Since then, Connecticut stations have always dedicated at least one reporter to covering the Capitol.
STATEMENT OF THE FAMILY OF LOWELL P. WEICKER, JR. June 28, 2023
It is with profound sadness and loss that we announce that husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, Lowell Palmer Weicker Jr., died today after a short illness.
He served his country in the United States Army and his state and nation as First Selectman of Greenwich, State Legislator, Congressman from Connecticut’s Fourth District, United States Senator and Governor of Connecticut.
In nearly 4 decades of public service, he used his position to protect the Constitution of the United States and to improve the lives of people who had no power advocating for education, health care and research, civil rights and equal opportunity.
As a legislator he and Senator Ted Kennedy joined forces to end apartheid in South Africa. During his years in the Senate, he championed the rights of children and people with disabilities authoring the Americans With Disabili1es Act; secured the first federal funding for research on HIV/AIDS; promoted funding for biomedical research, and sought expanded research on the world’s oceans.
As Governor he created long term fiscal stability for a state in financial crisis, established school-based health clinics and instituted a ban on assault style weapons. Following his years in public service he founded the Trust for Public Health which advocated for effective public health for all.
At home, he was the center of our universe never failing in his love and enthusiasm for family. “Pop”, as he is affectionately known to his grandchildren and great grandchildren, was greatly loved and will be missed.
He is survived by his wife, Claudia Weicker, sons: Scot, Gray, Brian, Tre, and Sonny Weicker and stepsons Mason and Andrew Ingram, 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.