Governor Robert D. Holmes' Administration

Biographical Note

Robert Holmes was governor from January 14, 1957 to January 12, 1959.

Holmes was born in Canisteo, New York in May 11, 1909. After he graduated from Rochester's West High School in 1925, his family moved to Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1932 and married Marie Hoy in 1934. After some newspaper experience on The Oregonian and the Oregon Journal he went to Astoria and managed radio station KAST.

Holmes showed an interest in improving education and served on the Gearhart City and the Clatsop County rural school boards before 1948. He changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and was elected to the State Senate in 1948 and reelected in 1952. In 1953 he was named chairman of the Senate Education Committee by Republican Governor Patterson and won statewide recognition for his efforts to strengthen the state's system of education. Just days after Governor Patterson's death in 1956 Holmes declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He defeated Elmo Smith in the general election.

In his two years as governor Holmes worked at revising state government to make it more efficient and responsive. He created the first Department for Economic Planning. He reduced taxes by sixteen percent and was instrumental in creating new social welfare and education laws. He pressed for improved conditions and wages for workers, for public power development, and for the abolition of capital punishment in Oregon.

After he was defeated by Mark Hatfield in the 1958 general election, Robert Holmes returned to consulting, public relations, and public service. He conducted Portland's KOIN-TV program, "Let's Face It", which discussed issues of the day. He was named to the State Board of Higher Education in 1969 and resigned in 1974. He served on the commission to draft a revision of the Oregon Constitution during 1961 and 1962. Holmes died of cancer on June 6, 1976.

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