Sam Coppersmith

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Sam Coppersmith
Sam Coppersmith.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by John Jacob Rhodes III
Succeeded by Matt Salmon
Personal details
Born (1955-05-22) May 22, 1955 (age 63)
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Harvard University (1976);
Yale Law School (1982)
Occupation Lawyer
Website (personal blog)

Samuel G. "Sam" Coppersmith (born May 22, 1955) is an American attorney and former Democratic United States Congressman from Arizona from 1993 to 1995.

Early years[edit]

Coppersmith was born May 22, 1955 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.[1] He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1976,[2] 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.[1] He returned to the U.S. then earned a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1982.[2] 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.[2]

House of Representatives[edit]

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. Rhodes had won the seat with over 70 percent of the vote each time, and no Democrat even filed against him in 1990. 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 by just over six points in what was later called one of the biggest upsets in Arizona political history.[3]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Senate race and private practice[edit]

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 District, and is now the 5th District.

After leaving Congress, Coppersmith spent two years as the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party.[1] He is currently an attorney specializing in real estate law and a managing partner of the law firm of Coppersmith Schermer & Brockelman PLC.[2] He has a blog called LiberalDesert.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Sam Coppersmith". Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership. Archived from the original on 2003-01-13.
  2. ^ a b c d "Samual G. Coppersmith". Coppersmith Schermer & Brockelman PLC. Archived from the original on 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  3. ^ Former Arizona Congressman John Rhodes III dies. East Valley Tribune, 2011-01-20.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Rhodes III
U.S. Representative for Arizona's 1st Congressional District
Succeeded by
Matt Salmon
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dennis DeConcini
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Arizona
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Jim Pederson