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Al the Pal returns to Springfield

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013

* Sneed

Former U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon, once a household name in Illinois, has just penned an autobiography, “The Gentleman from Illinois.”

Dixon, who lost re-election in 1992, served 43 consecutive years in elected office. He was a . . .

    ◆ State representative? Check.

    ◆ State senator? Check.

    ◆ State treasurer? Check.

    ◆ Secretary of state? Check.

    ◆ U.S. senator? Check.

◆ Ink spot: Dixon, who won election 30 times and suffered one defeat, will be signing books at Boone’s Saloon in Springfield on Tuesday night.

Should be an interesting crowd. I’ll be there. The Boone’s event starts at 5 o’clock this afternoon.

* From the Amazon book description

In 1993, Alan J. Dixon’s political career came to an end with a defeat—the first one in his forty-three years of elected service. Beginning his legislative career in 1950 as a Democrat in the Illinois House of Representatives, Dixon also served in the Illinois State Senate, worked as state treasurer and secretary of state, and concluded his political career as a U.S. senator. The Gentleman from Illinois is an insider’s account of Illinois politics in the second half of the twentieth century, providing readers with fascinating stories about the people he encountered and events he participated in and witnessed during his four decades of service.

With a degree of candor often unheard of in political memoirs, The Gentleman from Illinois reveals Dixon’s abilities as a storyteller. At times chatty and self-effacing, Dixon pulls no punches when it comes to detailing the personalities of major political figures—such as Mayor Richard J. Daley, Adlai Stevenson, Paul Simon, and presidents of the United States. Indeed, he uses this same honest approach when examining himself, fully describing the setbacks and embarrassing moments that peppered his own life.

As a moderate Democrat who regularly crossed party lines in his voting and his views, Dixon also shares his thoughts on the proper way to run a government, the difficulties of passing legislation, the balancing act required to be a statewide official, and other valuable observations on local, state, and national politics. Full of behind-the-scenes insights presented in 121 short vignettes, The Gentleman from Illinois entertains as much as it informs, making it a necessary book for everyone interested in Illinois politics.

* The book has its own Facebook page as well.

* Bernie

Back in May, Dixon talked about the book when he was in Springfield for a fundraiser hosted by Sangamon County Young Democrats to benefit a summer food program run by the Illinois Coalition for Community Services. The book’s cover picture, he noted, shows him speaking to ward committeemen in Chicago as then-Mayor Daley “sits there stroking his chin.” Dixon also made it clear that he’s really anxious for people to enjoy his stories.

On the subject of food, Dixon told the gathering one of the stories in the book: how he worked to keep $100 million for a food program in the federal budget that was on the chopping block under President RONALD REAGAN. He said he got a letter from then-Chicago Mayor HAROLD WASHINGTON asking for help. He called Washington and said, “I would be his instrument and return that money to the budget.”

In those days, he said, “one of my great friends” was then-Rep. DAN ROSTENKOWSKI, D-Chicago, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“And Rosty’s best pal was the Speaker of the House, TIP O’NEILL, and I used to go out and have an occasional drink with those guys,” Dixon said. “So I got together with them and introduced the bill to put the $100 million back in the budget. … We kicked out the money for covert assistance to the contras in Nicaragua and put in the money for food for people.”

* Check out the blurbs…

“Alan Dixon served more than forty years in elected office, and never wavered from his characteristic civility and kindness. His career is proof that a strong leader can treat even his greatest adversaries with the greatest respect.” —Richard M. Daley, former mayor of Chicago

“Here’s the good one—the book we waited 20 years for. The Gentleman from Illinois chronicles Alan Dixon’s four decades in Illinois and Washington politics, and gives us a ring side seat to the passion, intrigue, and excitement that seeking and holding public office in a state like Illinois can command. One of the state’s most revered public servants has told it all without fear or favor and we are right there with him”—Governor James R .Thompson

“Like Alan, The Gentleman from Illinois is entertaining, enlightening, and informative, and I highly recommend it.”—Sam Nunn, former U.S. senator from Georgia


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - downstate demo - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    Alan Dixon was best downstate politican for years.
    Built an impressive record and did not have to list it on his tombstone.
    Al the Pal was a real leader like others of his generation like Phil Rock who could things done.
    I will travel there tonight to salute this fine Democratic icon.

  2. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    My wife and I were interns for Sen. Dixon back in the day and are looking forward to reading his book.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 11:09 am:


    Will be a book I pick up, for sure.

  4. - Andy Raucci - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    You can add elected Police Magistrate at the age of 21 to the list of offices held by Alan Dixon.

  5. - Pike County Guy - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 11:23 am:

    A big middle finger to Al Holfeld as the spoiler candidate who gave us 6 glorious years of Carol Mosely Braun as our U.S. Senator.

  6. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 11:25 am:

    Hungry Americans, Si! Contras, No!

    That’s some fine trade!

    What did Ollie North then do? — a felony.

  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    Look forward to the book.

  8. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    Boone’s is an appropriate venue for this event. I’m a fan of his, but wonder if it’s taken him twenty years just to finally remember all of these anecdotes. It isn’t exactly a timely book, and my guess is many of the people featured are deceased, so we’ll have to take Dixon’s recollections for what they are. Still, I look forward to reading it.

  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    I wonder how often Al thinks about that Clarence Thomas vote. It wasn’t needed; Thomas would have been confirmed without it.

  10. - LisleMike - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    My dad was his press secretary until his electino to the US Senate, where Dad passed just before Alan went on to Congress. He was always a fine person to me, a great friend of the press and very good to my Dad. “Gentleman” sums him up well.

  11. - downstate commissioner - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 6:56 pm:

    jumped the ticket and voted for him several times- his loss to what’s her name was a huge loss to Illinois.

  12. - Downstate GOP Faithless - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 7:34 pm:

    Only met Senator Dixon once or twice, but his son is one of my favorite Springfield operatives! A true reflection of the way his father raised him.

  13. - Pat C - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 7:57 pm:

    I wonder how often Al thinks about that Clarence Thomas vote. It wasn’t needed; Thomas would have been confirmed without it.

    Can someone remind me how it’s only one party that demands ideological purity? If we complain that Texas won’t elect a guy like Mark Kirk, let us also moan about California not electing someone like Al Dixon.

  14. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 9:08 pm:

    –If we complain that Texas won’t elect a guy like Mark Kirk, let us also moan about California not electing someone like Al Dixon.–

    Who’s doing any of that?

    Dixon was hardly a victim of ideological purity. It was a hot issue in a three-way race in which Al Hofeld pounded lumps on his head with negative spots.

    Dixon still almost won.

  15. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 9:28 pm:

    Senator Dixon was one of the best. I wish we still had guys who were willing to have a drink with the the opposition and work out a reasonable deal.

  16. - mokenavince - Tuesday, Aug 13, 13 @ 10:11 pm:

    Dixon Dirksen Douglas made you proud to be from Illinois.

  17. - Sangamon GOP - Wednesday, Aug 14, 13 @ 1:56 am:

    It was a very nice event, but I was not impressed when Bill Daley showed up and cut into line in front of just 10 or so people patiently waiting to say hi to Senator Dixon. Really? He is too self important to stand in line? It would have been a good place for him to meet and enjoy talking to some voters. He even had staff with him that could have held him a spot while he worked the room.

  18. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 14, 13 @ 8:55 am:

    ===was not impressed when Bill Daley showed up and cut into line===

    I was there and I think he was invited to do so. Dixon announced he was endorsing Daley, maybe jokingly, but at least Daley showed up. Quinn didn’t.

  19. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 14, 13 @ 8:56 am:

    By the way, I bought a book and Dixon signed it, “To the Big Dog.” lol

  20. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 14, 13 @ 9:18 am:

    – Dixon announced he was endorsing Daley, maybe jokingly, but at least Daley showed up. Quinn didn’t–

    Al was pretty honked when Quinn took on his pal, incumbent treasurer Donnewald, in the primary back in the day.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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