James L. Buckley, who claimed a surprise election victory to represent New York in the US Senate in 1970, has died. He was 100.
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Buckley, considered a “conservative beacon” by those who knew him well, died as the result of a fall, nephew and political satirist Christopher Buckley told the New York Times.
As relayed by the New York Post, Buckely was a native of New York City and the older brother of National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. He became widely known for his stunning win in a Conservative Party in the three-way Senate race between Republican incumbent Charles Goodell and Democrat Richard Ottinger. Goodell had been appointed by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to serve out the term of the assassinated Robert F. Kennedy.
“Buckley, who had sought to challenge Goodell for the GOP line but was rejected by state party officials, hammered both the Republican and the Democrat for their dovish stances on the Vietnam War,” the Post wrote. “With the tacit backing of President Richard Nixon, Buckley won the election with just 38.8% of the vote.”
Buckley was born in 1923 and grew up in rural Connecticut. He graduated from Yale then served as an officer in the Navy in World War II. After that, he returned to New Haven, Conn., to get a law degree.
He first worked at a private practice then joined a group of smaller companies that explored for oil overseas. After being the surprise senate victor in 1970, Buckley never won again.
Still, he served as an under secretary of state in the administration of President Ronald Reagan and worked as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany. He most recently served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, before retiring in 2000.
Buckley had been residing in Bethesda, Maryland, at the time of his death.