|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 1st district
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||John Jacob Rhodes III|
|Succeeded by||Matt Salmon|
May 22, 1955 |
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Alma mater||Harvard University (1976);
Yale Law School (1982)
|Website||liberaldesert.blogspot.com (personal blog)|
Coppersmith was born May 22, 1955 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1976, and then worked as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department, assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He returned to the U.S. then earned a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1982. After law school, he clerked for Judge William C. Canby, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and served as an assistant to the Mayor of Phoenix.
House of Representatives
In 1992, Coppersmith won the Democratic primary in Arizona's 1st District and faced three-term Republican Jay Rhodes in the general election. On paper, Coppersmith faced extremely long odds. This East Valley-based district had been in Republican hands without interruption since 1953, and the Democrats had only made two serious bids for the seat since then. It had seemingly become even more Republican when many Hispanic neighborhoods in Phoenix were shifted to the 2nd District during redistricting. Also, popular Senator John McCain (who had represented the district from 1983 to 1987) was running for re-election. Rhodes, however, was hobbled by ethics problems, and Coppersmith defeated him in what was later called one of the biggest upsets in Arizona political history.
While serving in Congress, he kept a campaign promise by returning a congressional pay raise he opposed by writing a check each month to the U.S. Treasury. Coppersmith also gained national attention with his leadership of the effort to eliminate the Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor program, an effort that united a coalition of budget-cutters, environmentalists, and foreign policy experts concerned about plutonium. Also, through his efforts, the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Education talked with each other to end an interpretation of labor laws that kept parents in some Arizona schools from participating in their children's classrooms.
Senate race and private practice
In 1994, Coppersmith gave up his seat after only one term to run for the U.S. Senate when Dennis DeConcini retired. He lost to fellow Congressman Jon Kyl by 14 points. Proving just how Republican this district still was, no Democrat has come within 10 points of winning the district since Coppersmith left office. The district has since been renumbered as the 6th and then the 5th Congressional District.
After leaving Congress, Coppersmith spent two years as the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party. He is currently an attorney specializing in real estate law and a managing partner of the law firm of Coppersmith Schermer & Brockelman PLC. He has a blog called LiberalDesert.
- United States Congress. "Sam Coppersmith (id: C000767)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
|United States House of Representatives|
John Rhodes III
|U.S. Representative for Arizona's 1st Congressional District
|Party political offices|
|Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Arizona
|103rd||Senate: D. DeConcini | J. McCain||House: B. Stump | J. Kolbe | J. Kyl | E. Pastor | S. Coppersmith | K. English|