Sonny Callahan

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Sonny Callahan
Sonnycallahan.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st district
In office
1985–2003
Preceded by Jack Edwards
Succeeded by Jo Bonner
Personal details
Born (1932-09-11) September 11, 1932 (age 81)
Mobile, Alabama
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Karen Reed
Religion Roman Catholic

Herbert Leon "Sonny" Callahan (born September 11, 1932) is a politician from Alabama.

Callahan was born in Mobile, Alabama he had eight brothers and sisters and he attended classes at a branch of the University of Alabama that was located in Mobile. He did not graduate. Callahan served in the United States Navy from 1952 to 1954. Callahan was involved in trucking and warehousing businesses. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1970 and he was elected to the Alabama Senate in 1978. Callahan lost his bid to become Lieutenant Governor in 1982.

When retiring representative Jack Edwards requested that Callahan run for his seat as a Republican, Callahan switched parties and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1984 from the Mobile-based district. He narrowly defeated Democrat Frank McRight by just over 4,000 votes, mostly on the strength of a 6,000 vote margin in heavily Republican Baldwin County. Callahan was also undoubtedly helped by the presence of Ronald Reagan atop the ticket; Reagan carried the 1st by over 60 percent of the vote. To date, it is the only time the Democrats have come close to retaking the 1st since Edwards won it for the Republicans in 1964.

Proving just how Republican this district was at the national level (though conservative Democrats would hold most of the district's seats in the state legislature well into the 1990s), Callahan was unopposed for reelection in 1986, a year widely reckoned as a bad one for the Republicans at the national level. He easily defeated underfunded Democrats in 1988, 1992, 1994 and 1996, was unopposed in 1990 and 1998, and only faced a Libertarian challenger in 2000.

When the Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, Callahan became the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs. Callahan had voted against numerous foreign aid bills before taking the chairmanship, and he remained skeptical of foreign aid. In 1998, Callahan became somewhat famous after it became known that he was speaking with President Bill Clinton on the phone during one of the President's first sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky.[1] In 2001, Callahan became the chairman of the Energy and Water Development subcommittee.

Callahan retired from the House in 2003. His closest congressional aide, Jo Bonner, won the election to replace Callahan, receiving huge support from both Callahan and Edwards.

After leaving Congress, Callahan founded Sonny Callahan and Associates, a lobbying firm that he currently heads. He is also served as campaign chairman for businessman Tim James' unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for Governor of Alabama.

Steve Russo scandal[edit]

In the Summer of 2004, Callahan wrote a letter to State Lands Director James Hillman Griggs complaining that Federal Coastal Zone Management pass through grant money that had been entrusted to the City of Orange Beach for beach development was not going to the intended recipients. Griggs cancelled the grant and additional funding that had been requested by Orange Beach Mayor Steve Russo and City Attorney Larry Sutley. The United States Department of Justice initiated an investigation and in 2006, Mayor Russo and Attorney Sutley were convicted in what is viewed as a political payback prosecution.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jack Edwards
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st congressional district

1985–2003
Succeeded by
Jo Bonner