PASSINGS: John Durkin, Jackie Guthrie

PASSINGS: John Durkin, Jackie Guthrie
John A. Durkin, who served as a Democratic senator from New Hampshire, won his seat in 1975 in one of the closest elections in Senate history.
(Associated Press)

John Durkin

Former U.S. senator from New Hampshire

Former U.S. Sen. John Durkin, 76, a New Hampshire Democrat who won his seat in 1975 in one of the closest elections in Senate history, died Tuesday at Franklin Regional Hospital in Concord, N.H., after a brief illness. His death was confirmed by an official at the New Hampshire Veterans Home, where Durkin had lived since 2011.

Durkin was elected to the Senate on Sept. 16, 1975, after a long fight that wound its way from New Hampshire to Washington and back again. The initial vote tally in November 1974 showed Republican U.S. Rep. Louis Wyman winning by 335 votes. A recount put Durkin up by 10 votes, prompting an appeal to the state Ballot Law Commission, which was charged with making decisions on write-ins, strangely marked ballots and voter intentions.


After the commission ruled that Wyman won by two votes, Durkin appealed to the U.S. Senate, which handed the matter to its rules committee. But the committee sent it back to the full Senate. After 30 days of discussion, 32 roll call votes and a record-setting six cloture votes to cut off debate, the Senate declared the seat vacant on July 30, 1975, and returned the race to New Hampshire for a Sept. 16 runoff. Durkin won by 27,000 votes and was sworn in two days later.

He was defeated in 1980 by Republican Warren Rudman. Durkin ran again in 1990 but lost to Republican Bob Smith. In later years, he worked as an attorney.

Durkin was born March 29, 1936, and grew up in Brookfield, Mass. He graduated from Holy Cross College in 1959, spent two years in the Navy and earned a law degree from Georgetown University in 1965. Durkin moved to New Hampshire the following year to become an assistant attorney general and was named insurance commissioner two years later.

Jackie Guthrie, 68, who was married to folk singer Arlo Guthrie in 1969 and served as a videographer during his recent concert tours, died Sunday of liver cancer at the couple’s winter home in Sebastian, Fla., according to an obituary released by his record label. A Utah native, she grew up in Malibu and met her future husband in the late 1960s while a cashier at the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood. She had four children with Guthrie and one with singer David Crosby.


— Times staff and wire reports

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