James JeffordsU.S. Senator
Born: 11 May 1934
Birthplace: Rutland, Vermont
Best known as: The senator who switched parties in 2001
James Jeffords was elected to the U.S. Senate from Vermont in 1988, then re-elected in 1994 and 2000. Previously he had been a Vermont state senator and Attorney General and had served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975-89. For much of his Senate career Jeffords has been regarded as a liberal Republican who sometimes voted with Democrats on issues like the environment and abortion. On 24 May 2001 Jeffords announced he would leave the GOP to serve as an independent. The move shifted Senate power to the Democrats, giving that party a 50-49 edge over the Republicans. Jeffords became the Senate's only independent; Vermont's U.S. Representative, Bernard Sanders, also is a registered independent.
Extra credit: Jeffords served in the U.S. Navy from 1956-59... Like George W. Bush, Jeffords has an undergraduate degree from Yale and a graduate degree from Harvard. (Jeffords' Harvard degree was in law, Bush's was in business.)
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