Rupert Vance Hartke

Rupert Vance Hartke (May 31, 1919 – July 27, 2003) was a Democratic United States Senator from Indiana from 1959 until 1977. In 1994, he was indicted by a grand jury in Indiana for polling violations. As part of a plea agreement, Hartke received a six-month suspended sentence.

Early life, education, military service

Born in Stendal, Pike County, Indiana on May 31, 1919, Hartke attended public schools in Stendal. He graduated from Evansville College (now the University of Evansville) in 1940, and from 1942 until 1946 Hartke served in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, rising from Seaman to Lieutenant. Hartke graduated from the Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington in 1948.

Legal and political career

After joining the Indiana State Bar in 1948, Hartke began practicing law in Evansville. He also worked as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney of Vanderburgh County (1950–1951) and Mayor of Evansville (1956–1958) before being elected to the United States Senate in 1958 and reelected in 1964 and 1970 (1959–1977). He lost reelection in 1976 to Richard Lugar. Hartke was also an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972.

Senate service and later life

In the Senate, Hartke was known for his opposition to the Vietnam War and his chairmanship of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Hartke died in Falls Church, Virginia on July 27, 2003, aged 84, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Hartke left behind his wife, Martha, and his seven children: Sandra, Jan, Wayne, Keith, Paul, Anita, and Nadine as well as thirteen grandchildren: Angela, Vance, Jason, Jessica, Travis, Melody, Chelsea, Hanna, Ryan, Tyler, Dean, Zachary, and Wyatt, and two great grand children: Colby and Jackson.
Hartke’s daughter, Anita Hartke, was the 2008 Democratic candidate for the United States House of Representatives from the 7th congressional district of Virginia. She lost to the Republican incumbent, Eric Cantor.

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