John Edwards

U.S. Senator

Born: 20 June 1953
Birthplace: Seneca, South Carolina
Best known as:

The Democratic candidate for vice president in 2004

John Edwards is the 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate whose career exploded in 2008 because of his extra-marital affair with videographer Rielle Hunter. John Edwards attended North Carolina State University and earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina in 1977. Over the next two decades he made his name in North Carolina as a trial lawyer who represented "the little guy" in lawsuits against large companies, frequently winning huge cash awards for his clients. As a newcomer to politics, he defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in 1998 to become North Carolina's junior senator. John Edwards then ran for the Democratic party's presidential nomination in 2004, despite being a relative unknown nationally. He surprised political pundits by making a strong showing and ended up taking the vice-presidential spot on the ticket behind Senator John Kerry. (They were defeated by GOP incumbents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.) Having run for vice-president rather than for reelection to the Senate, he ended his single term in the Senate in early 2005 and was succeeded by a Republican, Richard Burr. John Edwards again ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but withdrew in January of 2008 after trailing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama through the early primaries.

After revelations by news outlets including the National Enquirer, John Edwards admitted in early 2010 that he'd fathered a child by Rielle Hunter in February of 2008. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, filed for divorce but died in December of 2010. Edwards then faced accusations in 2011 of using campaign funds to cover up his affair with Hunter. He was tried on six different federal counts stemming from his misuse of campaign funds; in May of 2012 a jury found him not guilty of one count, and deadlocked on five other charges. The judge declared a mistrial on the five undecided counts.

Extra credit:

John Edwards married Elizabeth (birth name Mary Elizabeth Anania) in 1977; she graduated from UNC's law school the same year. Their four children are Wade (b. 1980), Cate (b. 1982), Emma Claire (b. 1998) and Jack (b. 2000). Wade died at age 16 in a 1996 traffic accident, and Elizabeth Edwards died 7 December 2010 from cancer... John Edwards should not be confused with television psychic John Edward.

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