Ralph R. Harding

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Ralph R. Harding
Ralph R. Harding.jpg
Harding in 1963
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1961 – January 3, 1965
Preceded byHamer Budge
Succeeded byGeorge Hansen
Member of the Idaho State Legislature
In office
Personal details
Born(1929-09-09)September 9, 1929
Malad City, Idaho
DiedOctober 26, 2006(2006-10-26) (aged 77)
Blackfoot, Idaho
Resting placeMalad City Cemetery
Malad City, Idaho
NationalityUnited States
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Wilhelmina Conrad Harding
(m.1954–2006, his death)
Children2 sons, 3 daughters
ProfessionAgriculture, Accountant
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceU.S. Army
Years of service1951–1953
Battles/warsKorean War

Ralph R. Harding (September 9, 1929 – October 26, 2006) was a former congressman from eastern Idaho; he served two terms as a Democrat from 1961 to 1965.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Malad City, Idaho, Harding served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah in 1956, after serving in Korea from 1951 to 1953 in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.


Harding served in the Idaho state legislature from 1955 to 1956. He ran against Republican congressman Hamer Budge, a ten-year incumbent in Idaho's 2nd district in 1960. Harding pulled off an upset victory with 51.1 percent, winning by 4,000 votes. He was re-elected in 1962, but was one of the few incumbent Democrats in the U.S. House who lost to Republican challengers even as President Lyndon B. Johnson won in a landslide in 1964. Many attribute Harding's congressional defeat to a speech he made in the U.S. House of Representatives for criticizing LDS Apostle Ezra Taft Benson for being a "spokesman for the radical right of this nation."

Benson was Secretary of Agriculture for two terms during the Eisenhower administration. After he left the Department of Agriculture, Benson vigorously supported the views of John Birch Society founder Robert Welch. In his book "The Patriot" Welch called Eisenhower a communist sympathizer. In a letter to Harding, Eisenhower thanked Harding for defending him against Welch's allegations. LDS members constituted a large portion of the population in Harding's Idaho congressional district.

After his 1964 defeat, Harding served as special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force.[3] In 1966, Harding won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by Republican incumbent Len Jordan in the general election.

U.S. House elections (Idaho's 2nd district): Results 1960–1964
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1960 Ralph Harding 90,161 53.0% Hamer Budge (inc.) 86,100 47.0%
1962 Ralph Harding (inc.) 83,152 52.8% Orval Hansen 74,203 47.2%
1964 Ralph Harding (inc.) 84,022 47.8% George Hansen 91,838 51.8%
U.S. Senate elections in Idaho (Class II): Results 1966
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1966 Ralph Harding 112,637 44.6% Len Jordan (inc.) 139,819 55.4%

Harding attempted to regain the 2nd district seat again in 1978, but lost the Democratic primary to Stan Kress.[4] He then worked on a variety of business ventures, including representing the Philippine sugar industry and attempting to launch an Asian version of the NBA.

Death and legacy[edit]

Harding died at the age of seventy-seven in Blackfoot. According to a news report in the Idaho Statesman, a cause of death was not released by the hospital or family at the time of his death. He is interred at Malad City Cemetery in Malad City.[5]

Harding was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Harding and baseball hall of famer Harmon Killebrew of Payette co-founded the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial, formerly the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament, in 1977. The tournament is held annually in Sun Valley in late August to benefit leukemia and cancer research at St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute in Idaho and Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.[2][6]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

  1. ^ "Obituary: Ralph Ray Harding". Deseret News. October 30, 2006. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Cordes, Jeff (November 1, 2006). "Ralph Harding, driving force of the Thompson, dies at 77". Idaho Mountain Express. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  3. ^ "Ralph Harding finishes tour". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. April 14, 1966. p. b3.
  4. ^ "Kress has rematch with George Hansen". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. August 9, 1978. p. 12A.
  5. ^ "Ralph R. Harding". Find A Grave. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Cordes, Jeff ((August 23, 1984), November 1, 2006). "Ralph Harding: back room maestro of the Thompson". Idaho Mountain Express. Retrieved July 29, 2013. Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Hamer Budge
United States House of Representatives, Idaho Second Congressional District
January 3, 1961–January 4, 1965
Succeeded by
George Hansen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gracie Pfost
Democratic Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1966 (lost)
Succeeded by
William E. Davis