American politicianDied when: 86 years 260 days (1040 months)
Star Sign: Libra
Jesse Alexander Helms Jr. (October 18, 1921 – July 4, 2008) was an American politician.A leader in the conservative movement, he served as a senator from North Carolina from 1973 to 2003.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1995 to 2001, he had a major voice in foreign policy.Helms helped organize and fund the conservative resurgence in the 1970s, focusing on Ronald Reagan's quest for the White House as well as helping many local and regional candidates.
On domestic social issues, Helms opposed civil rights, disability rights, environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, affirmative action, access to abortions, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Helms brought an "aggressiveness" to his conservatism, as in his rhetoric against homosexuality.The Almanac of American Politics once wrote that "no American politician is more controversial, beloved in some quarters and hated in others, than Jesse Helms".
As chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he demanded an anti-communist foreign policy.His relations with the State Department were often acrimonious, and he blocked numerous presidential appointees.
Helms was the longest-serving popularly elected Senator in North Carolina's history.He was widely credited with shifting the one-party state into a competitive two-party state.
He advocated the movement of conservatives from the Democratic Party – which they deemed too liberal – to the Republican Party.
The Helms-controlled National Congressional Club's state-of-the-art direct mail operation raised millions of dollars for Helms and other conservative candidates, allowing Helms to outspend his opponents in most of his campaigns.
Helms was considered the most stridently conservative American politician of the post-1960s era, especially in opposition to federal intervention into what he considered state affairs (including legislating integration via the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and enforcing suffrage through the Voting Rights Act of 1965).