Former Rep. Clarence Long dead at 85

September 20, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Clarence D. Long, a Johns Hopkins economics professor who represented Maryland's 2nd District as a Democratic congressman for 22 years, died Sunday at Stella Maris Hospice from complications to neurological disease. He was 85.

Mr. Long, a resident of Sparks, first was elected to the House of Representatives in 1962. He was re-elected 10 times before his defeat by Republican Helen Delich Bentley in 1984 -- a loss attributed in part to redistricting, the second Ronald Reagan landslide and perhaps his own advancing years.

He was a master of constituent service -- "I'll see anybody who is sober and not carrying a gun twice a day, at 11:45 a.m. or 4:45 p.m.," he once said -- and a strong supporter of Israel, which stood him well in the Jewish precincts of Pikesville and Northwest Baltimore that he lost to reapportionment after the 1980 census.

"Doc" Long, as he was called, also had a reputation for voting his conscience -- which tended to be more liberal than his constituency -- and some of the causes he championed came back to haunt him politically.

"He represented a district that was certainly not liberal, but when his conscience was involved, he voted the right way," fellow Democrat and former Baltimore Rep. Parren J. Mitchell said yesterday.

Mr. Mitchell said he once asked Mr. Long if his vote on a school busing amendment might hurt him, and that Mr. Long replied, "If you can't do what you believe in, you don't belong in Congress."

Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, who served in the House with Mr. Long, said that as a member of Congress, educator and community leader, he was "a public servant of integrity, commitment, energy and accomplishment," and his standard of service to constituents "still serves as an example for public officials."

"He came into politics as a white knight riding on his Ph.D., challenging the machine," said Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland's other U.S. senator and also a former House member.

Mr. Long was an advocate of a strong American manufacturing base and of local businesses and industries, and in his work as chairman of the House subcommittee that handled foreign aid insisted that it be "a tool of diplomacy," Ms. Mikulski said.

Native of Indiana

Clarence Dickinson Long was born Dec. 11, 1908, in South Bend, Ind.

He worked in his youth at a variety of jobs -- truck driver, factory sawmill hand, vacuum cleaner salesman and self-described dirt farmer in the early years of the Depression.

A 1932 graduate of Washington and Jefferson College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he did graduate work there and at Princeton University where he was awarded a doctorate in 1938.

He lived and taught at Wesleyan University in Connecticut during the late 1930s.

He moved to Princeton, N.J., after his marriage to the former Susanna Larter in 1937.

Mr. Long saw wartime service as a Navy lieutenant, from 1943 to 1946, and the couple thereafter moved to Baltimore, where he became a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

His taste for politics was whetted by service during the mid-1950s on President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Council of Economic Advisers -- that despite his 1952 efforts as Baltimore County chairman of the Volunteers for Adlai Stevenson's Democratic presidential campaign.

From loner to party activist

Mr. Long was not an organization politician, however.

He was a political loner -- until losing a primary race for the 1958 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

He worked his way into party circles, becoming acting chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee in late 1961.

The party contacts helped Mr. Long in his successful 1962 campaign for the congressional seat then covering most of Baltimore County and part of Harford.

Over the years, he slowly rose in the ranks through seniority to become chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations -- the committee that controlled foreign aid spending. He held that post from 1977 until his defeat.

But over the long years in office he returned to the ways of a loner. He attended few Maryland delegation meetings -- even after he became dean of the delegation by virtue of his seniority.

Although he voted as a liberal on civil rights issues and was one of the first congressmen to hire a black staff member in 1963, a controversial appearance before the Baltimore County National

Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1980 left some voters questioning that commitment, while others questioned the ravages of age.

His remarks on the role of genetics in determining the superior abilities of blacks caused a furor and a later call for Long's defeat by the NAACP.

He was also involved in disputes over the years on local public works projects and problems.

He was the leader of a campaign that temporarily blocked construction of the second, parallel Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Mr. Long favored a second bridge -- one connecting Baltimore County with the Eastern Shore.

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