One of Oklahoma's few Republican congressmen during the 1980s, Marvin H. "Mickey" Edwards was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 12, 1937, to Edward A. and Rosalie Miller Edwards. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1958. From that year until 1963 he was a reporter and editor for the Oklahoma City Times. He was public relations director for Beals Advertising Agency from 1963 to 1968 and editor of Private Practice magazine from 1968 to 1973.
Edwards received a J.D. from Oklahoma City University Law School in 1969, and he commenced practice in Oklahoma City the following year. In 1973 and 1974 he was a special legislative consultant for the Republican Steering Committee in Washington, D.C. In 1975-76 he taught law and journalism at Oklahoma City University.
In 1974 Edwards challenged incumbent John Jarman for Oklahoma's Fifth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost by a narrow margin but won in 1976. Edwards served in Congress from January 3, 1977, to January 3, 1993.
For twelve years he sat on the House Appropriations Committee, and he was the ranking minority member of two of its subcommittees: Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, and Military Construction. He was also a member of the Education and Labor, Interior and Insular Affairs, House Administration, and Budget Committees, and he was the ranking minority member on the Health and Safety and Energy and Environment Subcommittees and the Community and Natural Resources Task Force. He chaired the Republican Task Force on Congressional Reform, the Republican working group on campaign finance reform, and the Bipartisan Task Force on Central America. He played a crucial role in passage of legislation authorizing aid for Nicaraguan contras in 1986 and deployment of American troops in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91.
Although he differed from his party on such issues as the presidential line-item veto, Edwards achieved high status among his Republican colleagues. He was a deputy Republican whip. From 1988 to1992 he was House Republican Policy Committee chair, the fourth-ranking Republican leadership position in the House. During 1989-90 he also chaired the House Republican Research Committee.
In 1991 the Committee on Ethics revealed that several members of Congress, including Edwards, had overdrawn on their House bank accounts. The Oklahoma congressman's bad checks totaled $54,000, placing him in the bottom half of the worst offenders. The scandal contributed to his loss in the 1992 Republican primary.
After leaving Congress, Edwards joined the faculty at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he eventually became the John Quincy Adams Lecturer in Legislative Politics. He has also served an advisor to Harvard's Institute of Politics.
Edwards published a number of articles and books. These include Hazardous to Your Health: A New Look at the "Health Care Crisis" in America (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1972), Behind Enemy Lines: A Rebel in Congress Proposes a Bold New Politics for the 1980s (Chicago: Regnery Gateway, 1983), and Foreign Assistance and Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 1987). He coauthored What's the Matter with Democratic Foreign Policy? How the Modern Democratic Party Has Abandoned the Traditions of Harry Truman and John Kennedy, and What That Might Mean for America's Safety in a Dangerous World (Washington, D.C.: American Conservative Union, in cooperation with the House Republican Study Committee, 1984), Financing America's Leadership: Protecting American Interests and Promoting American Values, Report of an Independent Task Force (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1997), and Winning the Influence Game: What Every Business Leader Should Know about Government (New York: Wiley, 2001). Edwards has been married five times and has three children.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics, 1992 (Washington, D.C.: National Journal, 1991). Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Arlington, Va.: CQ Staff Directories, 1997). CQ's Politics in America: 1990, The 101st Congress (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1989). CQ's Politics in America: 1992, The 102nd Congress (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1991). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 19 March 1992, 27 August 1992. Who's Who in America, 1982-1983 (42nd ed.; Chicago: Marquis Who's Who Inc., 1982).
Todd J. Kosmerick
© Oklahoma Historical Society