Tim Babcock

Last updated
Betty Lee
(m. 1941;died 2013)
Tim Babcock
Tim Babcock 1965 (cropped).jpg
16th Governor of Montana
In office
January 25, 1962 January 6, 1969

Timothy Milford Babcock (October 27, 1919 – April 7, 2015) was an American politician, the 16th Governor of the state of Montana, from 1962 to 1969. [1]


Early life

Babcock was born in Littlefork, Minnesota, the son of Olive (Rinehart) and Erwin Babcock. [2] He later moved to Glendive, Montana and graduated from Dawson County High School in 1939. [3] He married Betty Lee on September 21, 1941, and they had two children. [4] After graduating from Dawson County High School in 1939, he worked at a Douglas Aircraft factory in California. In 1944, he enlisted in the US Army as an infantryman, and served with the 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division in the European Theater during World War II. [4] He fought at Elsenborn Ridge, part of the Battle of the Bulge. He later took part in the capture of the Remagen Bridge, where he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for valor. [5]


Babcock served three terms in the Montana Legislature prior to being elected lieutenant governor in 1960. He became governor in 1962 upon the death of Governor Donald Nutter. During his tenure, he proposed a three-percent sales tax to support the state government, and moderated the budget signed by Governor Nutter. In 1964, Babcock endorsed Barry Goldwater of Arizona for the Republican presidential nomination. Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, however, was an easy winner that year of Montana's then four electoral votes. [6] He ran for re-election in 1964 against Roland Renne, the former President of Montana State College and the Democratic nominee. Following a close campaign, Babcock was narrowly re-elected over Renne. From 1964 to 1965, he a member of the National Governors' Conference Executive Committee, and he chaired the Western Governors' Conference from 1966 to 1967.

In 1966, he ran against incumbent United States Senator Lee Metcalf, and despite the fact that Democrats nationwide lost three Senate seats that year, Metcalf not only defeated Babcock, but increased his margin of victory from 1960.

When Babcock ran for re-election in 1968, he faced a stiff challenge in the Republican primary from Ted James, who had served with Babcock as his Lieutenant Governor since 1965. Babcock ended up defeating James, and advanced to the general election, where he faced Forrest H. Anderson, the State Attorney General, whom he lost to by a solid margin.

Following his defeat, he was appointed by then-President Richard Nixon to the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere.

In 1969, Babcock, who was a close friend of Nixon, was hired by Armand Hammer's Occidental Petroleum as a vice president and as Hammer's lobbyist with access not only to the White House but also to Babcock's friend President Nixon. [7]

He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention eleven times and served on the National Republican Committee in 1997 and 2000.

In 1978, Babcock and his wife wrote a book: Challenges: Above & Beyond.

Illegal financial support of Nixon's Watergate fund

In September 1972, Armand Hammer made three illegal contributions totaling $54,000 to Richard Nixon's Watergate fund through friends of former Montana Governor Tim Babcock, who had been a vice president of Hammer's Occidental Petroleum, after which both Babcock and Hammer pleaded guilty to charges involving illegal contributions. [8] [9] [10] In August 1989, George H. W. Bush pardoned Hammer for the illegal contributions to aid Nixon's re-election in 1972. [10] [11]

Personal life and death

The Hauser Mansion Hauser Mansion, Helena.jpg
The Hauser Mansion

Babcock purchased the Hauser Mansion in Helena in 1969. [12] Built for Governor Samuel Thomas Hauser, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [12]

On April 7, 2015, Babcock died in Helena, Montana, aged 95. [13]

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  1. "Former Governors of Montana". Netstate.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  2. "Tim Milford Babcock | Obituaries". Billingsgazette.com. 2015-04-09. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  3. "Tim M. Babcock". Soylent Communications. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Tim M. Babcock". National Governors Association. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  5. "Local Vets Remember Battle of Bulge on Its Anniversary". Helenair.com. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  6. Thomas Payne (June 1965). "The 1964 Election in Montana". The Western Political Quarterly. 18 (2): 491–494. doi:10.2307/445294. JSTOR   445294. The 1964 Elections in the West
  7. Epstein 1996, p. 270.
  8. Ripley, Anthony (December 11, 1974). "Guilt Admitted by a Nixon Donor". New York Times . Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  9. Oelsner, Lesley (October 2, 1975). "Hammer Enters Plea In Nixon Fund Case". New York Times . Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  10. 1 2 Rampe, David (August 15, 1989). "Armand Hammer Pardoned by Bush". The New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  11. Andrews, Robert M. (August 15, 1989). "Armand Hammer, Elated Over Bush Pardon, Usually Gets What He Wants". Associated Press . Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  12. 1 2 "National Register of Historic Places Inventory--Nomination Form: Hauser Mansion". National Park Service. United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  13. Kristen Inbody (2015-04-07). "'A sad day for Montana' as former Gov. Babcock dies". Greatfallstribune.com. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Cannon
Lieutenant Governor of Montana
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Montana
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Montana
1964, 1968
Succeeded by
Ed Smith
Preceded by Republican nominee for Senator from Montana
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Henry Hibbard