Howard Cannon

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Howard Cannon
Howard Cannon.jpg
United States Senator
from Nevada
In office
January 3, 1959 January 3, 1983
Preceded by George W. Malone
Succeeded by Chic Hecht
Personal details
Howard Walter Cannon

(1912-01-26)January 26, 1912
St. George, Utah, U.S.
DiedMarch 5, 2002(2002-03-05) (aged 90)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Dorothy Pace Cannon
Profession Attorney

Howard Walter Cannon (January 26, 1912 March 5, 2002) was an American politician. He served as a United States senator from Nevada from 1959 until 1983 as a member of the Democratic Party.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.

Nevada U.S. state in the United States

Nevada is a state in the Western United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho to the northeast, California to the west, Arizona to the southeast, and Utah to the east. Nevada is the 7th most extensive, the 32nd most populous, but the 9th least densely populated of the U.S. states. Nearly three-quarters of Nevada's people live in Clark County, which contains the Las Vegas–Paradise metropolitan area where three of the state's four largest incorporated cities are located. Nevada's capital is Carson City.


Early life and education

Cannon was born in Saint George, Utah. His grandfather David Cannon, was the younger brother of George Q. Cannon, and a leading figure in the building of the St. George Temple, who was later the third president of that temple. His father Walter Cannon was one of David Cannon's 31 children. Howard's parents had married in 1909, his mother was Leah Sullivan. When Cannon was two years old his father left for England to served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years. [1]

George Q. Cannon Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and five-time Utah Territorys At-large congressional district

George Quayle Cannon was an early member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served in the First Presidency under four successive presidents of the church: Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow. He was the church's chief political strategist, and was dubbed "the Mormon premier" and "the Mormon Richelieu" by the press. He was also a five-time Territorial Delegate to the US Congress.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nontrinitarian Christian restorationist church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States, and has established congregations and built temples worldwide. According to the church, it has over 16 million members and 65,000 full-time volunteer missionaries. In 2012, the National Council of Churches ranked the church as the fourth-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with over 6.5 million members there as of January 2018. It is the largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith during the early 19th century period of religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening.

Cannon went to Woodward School in St. George, close enough to his home he could walk home for lunch. He then went to Dixie High School. During summers, he worked as a Bell Hop at the North Rim Lodge along the Grand Canyon. In the evenings he would form a small band where he used his skills as a saxophonist to entertain guests. He delivered copies of the Deseret News around St. George on horseback. [2]

He graduated from Dixie Junior College, and received a bachelor's degree in music education from Arizona State Teachers College (now Northern Arizona University) in 1933. He then received an LL.B. degree from the University of Arizona Law School (1937). [3] While studying at the University of Arizona he was the director of the university pep orchestra. Between the summer of his second and third year he directed this group at a hotel in Seattle, Washington. In the summer of 1936 after his graduation he directed an orchestra of four, performing on the SS Jefferson on a cruise from Seattle, Washington to Yokohama, Japan. Also during his law school years Cannon competed in rodeos and learned to be an airplane pilot.

Dixie State University is a public university in St. George, Utah, in the state's Dixie region. The university offers 1 master's degree, 41 bachelor's degrees, 15 associate degrees, 38 minors, and 21 certificates/endorsements. As of fall 2017, there are 9,673 students enrolled at DSU, and the university has a 100% acceptance rate. The student body is 56% female and 44% male, and DSU is in the top three for diversity in the state of Utah, with 23% of the student body being minority students.

Northern Arizona University public research university located in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a public research university with its main campus in Flagstaff, Arizona. Governed by the Arizona Board of Regents and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the university offers 158 baccalaureate and graduate degree programs. The university's oldest branch campus, and the largest, is NAU Yuma.

James E. Rogers College of Law is the law school at the University of Arizona located in Tucson, Arizona and was the first law school founded in the State of Arizona, opening its doors in 1915. Also known as University of Arizona College of Law, it was renamed in 1999 in honor of broadcasting executive James E. Rogers, a 1962 graduate of the school, and chairman of Sunbelt Communications Company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Also in the summer of 1936, Cannon began dating Dorothy Pace of Alamo, Nevada. She went to Los Angeles, California to study at the Sawyer School of Business and then worked as a secretary there in her uncle's company. Their relationship did not progress much at this time. For the next few years Cannon dated Carma Fawcett who was killed in a car accident in 1940.

Alamo, Nevada Unincorporated town in Nevada, United States

Alamo is an unincorporated town in Lincoln County, Nevada, United States, about 90 miles (140 km) north of Las Vegas along U.S. Route 93. Its elevation is 3,449 feet (1,051 m). As of the 2010 census it had a population of 1,080.

After he finished law school he returned to St. George. Among his actions on his return was buying a house adjacent to Dixie College as an investment property.

Early career

Cannon became a lawyer after passing the bar exams in Arizona (1937), Utah (1938) and Nevada (1946). He served as a reference and research attorney for the Utah State Senate in 1939, and won election as County Attorney of Washington County, Utah in 1940.

Utah State Senate Upper house of the Utah State Legislature

The Utah State Senate is the upper house of the Utah State Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Utah. The Utah Senate is composed of 29 elected members representing an equal number of senate districts. Each senate district is composed of approximately 95,000 people. Members of the Senate are elected to four-year terms without term limits. The Senate convenes at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.

Washington County, Utah U.S. county in Utah

Washington County is a county in the southwestern corner of Utah, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 138,115, making it the fifth-most populous county in Utah. Its county seat and largest city is St. George. The county was created in 1852 and organized in 1856. It was named for the first President of the United States, George Washington.

Military service

During World War II, Cannon served as a troop carrier pilot in the United States Army Air Corps and its subsequent incarnation as the United States Army Air Forces. Assigned to the European theater, he dropped paratroopers at Saint-Come-du-Mont, Normandy and during the following combat mission in September 1944 was shot down over the Netherlands. He spent 42 days trying to return to the Allied lines with the assistance of the Dutch underground. Released from active duty in 1946, he joined the Army Air Forces Reserve until 1947 when he transitioned to the Air Force Reserve concurrent with the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service. Continuing to fly in the Air Force Reserve, he achieved command pilot status and ultimately retired from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of major general. His military decorations included the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Air Medal (three awards). [4]

Continued career

In 1946 Cannon established law offices in Las Vegas. In 1949 he was elected Las Vegas City Attorney, and he served until 1958. In 1958 he won election to the U.S. Senate after defeating incumbent George Malone by a wide margin. He won reelection in 1964, 1970, and 1976. [5]

U.S. Senate


In 1956, Cannon ran for the U.S. House of Representatives to succeed Republican incumbent C. Clifton Young, who ran for the U.S. Senate, but lost the Democratic primary to former Congressman Walter Baring, who then won the general election. In 1958, he was elected to the United States senate, unseating Republican Senator George W. Malone with 58% of the vote. Cannon was nearly defeated in his first re-election bid in 1964, holding off Republican Lieutenant Governor Paul Laxalt in one of the closest Senate elections ever. On election night, one of the networks actually projected that Cannon had lost, but several precincts didn't report in until the next morning and gave Cannon enough votes to secure a second term. Ultimately, Cannon only won by 48 votes. He likely would not have won had it not been for Lyndon Johnson's presence atop the ticket; Johnson easily carried the state as part of his 44-state landslide that year. Cannon was re-elected with far less difficulty in 1970, defeating then Washoe County District Attorney William Raggio. He also won re-election easily over former Congressman David Towell in 1976.

In the early 1980s, Cannon was ensnared in a scandal when Teamsters President Roy L. Williams was indicted by federal prosecutors for attempting to bribe Cannon in exchange for using his influence to block a bill deregulating the trucking industry. He testified that he did not know Williams or his associates and denied being offered a bribe, but other witnesses corroborated the story and Williams was convicted. Cannon was challenged in the 1982 Democratic primary by U.S. Representative Jim Santini, winning by about 4,500 votes, but lost the general election to Republican nominee Chic Hecht, a former state senator and businessman. [6]


Senator Cannon meets with President Jimmy Carter, c. 1978 Jimmy Carter with Senator Howard Cannon - NARA - 177902.tif
Senator Cannon meets with President Jimmy Carter, c. 1978

In 1964 Cannon voted for the Civil Rights Act. In the Senate, he was known as a moderate in the Democratic Party. In 1981, he was the recipient of the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation. Cannon retired from politics and died in Las Vegas in 2002 at the age of 90.

Committee assignments

He had an interest in the rules and administration of the Congress, serving as chairman of several committees on that subject, including the rules committee and the inaugural arrangements committee.


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  1. Vernetti, Michael (September 1, 2008). "Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada: A Biography". University of Nevada Press via Google Books.
  2. Vernetti, Michael (September 1, 2008). "Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada: A Biography". University of Nevada Press via Google Books.
  3. Evans, K. J. (February 7, 1999). "Howard W. Cannon". Las Vegas Review-Journal .
  4. "Howard W. Cannon, Major General, United States Air Force Reserve & United States Senator".
  5. Hulse, James W. The Silver State: Nevada's Heritage Reinterpreted.
  6. Stout, David (March 7, 2002). "Howard Cannon, 90, Senator Who Served Four Terms, Dies". The New York Times . Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  7. "Meeting Your Research Needs - Cannon Survey Center".
  8. "Cannon Aviation Museum". Clark County Nevada.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
George W. Malone
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Nevada
Served alongside: Alan Bible, Paul Laxalt
Succeeded by
Chic Hecht
Political offices
Preceded by
B. Everett Jordan
North Carolina
Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee
Succeeded by
Claiborne Pell
Rhode Island
Preceded by
Warren Magnuson
Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
Succeeded by
Bob Packwood