John M. Ashbrook
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Ohio's 17th district
January 3, 1961 – April 24, 1982
|Preceded by||Robert W. Levering|
|Succeeded by||Jean Spencer Ashbrook|
|Member of the |
Ohio House of Representatives
John Milan Ashbrook
September 21, 1928
Johnstown, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||April 24, 1982 (aged 53)|
Johnstown, Ohio, U.S.
|Father||William A. Ashbrook|
Ohio State University
John Milan Ashbrook (September 21, 1928 – April 24, 1982) was an American politician of the Republican Party who served in the United States House of Representatives from Ohio from 1961 until his death from peptic ulcer in Johnstown, Ohio in 1982.
John Milan Ashbrook was born on September 21, 1928, in Johnstown, Ohio to William A. Ashbrook, a newspaper editor, businessman, and U.S. representative, and Marie Swank. After graduating from Harvard University in 1952, and from Ohio State University's law school in 1955, Ashbrook became the publisher of his father's newspaper, the Johnstown Independent. On July 3, 1948, he married Joan Needels and later had three children with her before they divorced in 1971. In 1974, he remarried to Jean Spencer.
He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1956, and served two terms. In 1960, the seat that his father held in the House of Representatives was vacated and Ashbrook ran for and won it.
With William Rusher and F. Clifton White, associates from the Young Republicans in the 1950s, Ashbrook was involved in the start-up of the Draft Goldwater Committee in 1961.
In 1966, journalist Drew Pearson reported that Ashbrook was one of a group of Congressman who had received the "Statesman of the Republic" award from Liberty Lobby for his "right-wing activities".
Despite having supported Richard Nixon during the 1968 presidential election Ashbrook turned against him during his presidency. On December 29, 1971 he announced that he would oppose Nixon in the Republican primaries as an alternative conservative candidate and received support from conservative figures like William F. Buckley Jr.. His slogan "No Left Turns" was illustrated by a mock traffic symbol of a left-turn arrow with a superimposed No symbol. It was meant to symbolize the frustration of some conservatives with Nixon, whom they saw as having abandoned conservative principles and "turned left" on issues such as budget deficits, affirmative action, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, wage and price controls, and most of all, improving relations with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China with his policy of détente.
Ashbrook competed in the New Hampshire (9.8% of the vote), Florida (9%), and California (10%) primaries. He withdrew from the race after the California primary and "with great reluctance" supported Nixon. His campaign, although of minimal immediate impact, is remembered fondly by conservatives who admire Ashbrook for having stood for their principles. Ashbrook said in criticism of the Nixon administration,"I still believe it in the best American tradition to speak out even when it is in criticism of your party's actions."
When Nixon became mired in the Watergate scandal, Ashbrook became the first House Republican to call for the President's resignation.
In 1982, he announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum and polls showed him winning the race with a plurality, but on April 24, 1982 he suffered a gastric hemorrhage and died.
His wife, Jean Spencer Ashbrook, was chosen in a special election to serve the remaining seven months of his congressional term.
The Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University was named for Ashbrook in 1983. A periodic John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner at the center features leading conservative speakers from President Ronald Reagan (first dinner; dedication of the Center, in 1983) and Margaret Thatcher (1993) to Mitt Romney (April 2010) and John Boehner (June 2011). Also George H.W. Bush, Justice Clarence Thomas and Henry Kissinger.
Ronald Reagan was president at the time of Ashbrook's death. He honored him with these words: "John Ashbrook was a man of courage and principle. He served his constituents and his country with dedication and devotion, always working towards the betterment of his fellow man. His patriotism and deep belief in the greatness of America never wavered and his articulate and passionate calls for a return to old-fashioned American values earned him the respect of all who knew him."