Republican Who Gave Senate to Dems Dies

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) (R) applauds Senator Jim
Jeffords (I-VT) during a rally to mark Jefford's historic party switch
a year ago, on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, May 23,
2002. Jeffords' surprise defection last May 24, which threw the
Republican-led Senate into Democratic hands and brought the return of
divided government, could echo well into the 2004 presidential
campaign. REUTERS/William Philpott


    William Philpott/Reuters

    James Jeffords, the Republican senator who quit the GOP and threw control of the chamber to Democrats in 2001, has died at age 80. Jeffords was the last Vermont Republican to be elected to federal office. The former congressman and senator had been struggling with Alzheimer's disease. Born to a Vermont Supreme Court justice, Jeffords began his career in politics in 1966 as a state senator, eventually serving six terms in the U.S. House and then winning a Senate seat in 1988. Jeffords quit the Republican Party in 2001 over concerns it was becoming too right wing. By becoming an Independent, he gave Democrats control of the Senate following George W. Bush's contentious election. “Thanks, Jim” bumper stickers became popular in Vermont immediately after. 

    Read it at Burlington Free Press