Floyd K. Haskell

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Floyd K. Haskell
United States Senator
from Colorado
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Gordon L. Allott
Succeeded by William L. Armstrong
Personal details
Born Floyd Kirk Haskell
(1916-02-07)February 7, 1916
Morristown, New Jersey
Died August 25, 1998(1998-08-25) (aged 82)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Eileen Nicoll (1941-1976; divorced; 3 children)
Nina Totenberg (1979-1998; his death)
Alma mater Harvard University

Floyd Kirk Haskell (February 7, 1916 – August 25, 1998) was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Senator from Colorado from 1973 to 1979.

Early life and career[edit]

Floyd Haskell was born in Morristown, New Jersey, to Edward Kirk and Gladys (née Clarkson) Haskell.[1] His father was an investment banker.[2] He attended Harvard University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937.[3] During college, he played on the football, rugby, and soccer teams and was president of the Rocky Mountain Club.[4][5][6] He received a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1941.[3] That same year he married Eileen Nicoll, to whom he remained married until their divorce in 1976; they had three daughters, Ione, Evelyn, and Pamela.[7]

During World War II, Haskell served in the U.S. Army from 1941 to 1945, seeing action in Asia and reaching the rank of major.[3] He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his intelligence work.[7] Following his military service, he was admitted to the bar in 1946 and moved to Denver, Colorado, where he worked as a tax lawyer.[2]

In 1964, Haskell was elected as a Republican to the Colorado House of Representatives from Arapahoe County, serving until 1969.[3] As a state legislator, he became assistant majority leader in 1967 and also served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the House Education and Finance Committees.[7] In 1970, he left the Republican Party and became a Democrat in protest of President Richard Nixon's invasion of Cambodia.[2]

U.S. Senate[edit]

In 1972, Haskell decided to challenge three-term Republican incumbent Gordon L. Allott for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He defeated state Senator Anthony F. Vollack (later chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court) in the Democratic primary.[8] In the general election, he narrowly won a four-way race between Allott and candidates from the Raza Unida Party and the American Independent Party, receiving only 49% of the vote.[9] He defeated his closest competitor, Senator Allott, by less than 10,000 votes while President Richard Nixon carried Colorado by over 267,000 votes.[9]

Haskell was sworn into the Senate on January 3, 1973.[3] He served as a member of the Senate Finance and Energy and Natural Resources Committees, where he earned a reputation as a tax reformer and advocate for the environment.[2] He supported the regulation of auto emissions, the Panama Canal treaties, and alternative sources of energy.[10] In 1978, he was defeated for re-election by Representative William L. Armstrong, losing by a margin of 59%-40%.[11]

Later life and death[edit]

After his Senate career, Haskell established his residence in Washington, D.C., where he practiced law before joining Common Cause and a bipartisan group of retired lawmakers calling for campaign finance reform and an end to congressional gridlock.[10] In 1979, he married Nina Totenberg, the legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio; they remained married until his death in 1998.[7]

Haskell suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1994 after falling on ice near his home in Washington.[10] He died of pneumonia four years later, at age 82, while returning from a vacation with his wife in Maine.[2]


United States Senate
Preceded by
Gordon L. Allott
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Peter H. Dominick, Gary Hart
Succeeded by
William L. Armstrong