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Chic Hecht

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Title: Chic Hecht  
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Subject: United States Senate election in Nevada, 1982, United States Senate election in Nevada, 1988, United States Senate election in Tennessee, 1988, United States Senate elections, 1988, Richard Bryan
Collection: 1928 Births, 2006 Deaths, Ambassadors of the United States to the Bahamas, American Jews in the Military, American Military Personnel of the Korean War, Cancer Deaths in Nevada, Deaths from Prostate Cancer, Jewish United States Senators, Nevada Republicans, Nevada State Senators, People from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Republican Party United States Senators, United States Army Officers, United States Senators from Nevada, Washington University in St. Louis Alumni
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Chic Hecht

Chic Hecht
United States Senator
from Nevada
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1989
Preceded by Howard Cannon
Succeeded by Richard Bryan
Personal details
Born Mayer Jacob Hecht
(1928-11-30)November 30, 1928
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Died May 15, 2006(2006-05-15) (aged 77)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Gail Kahn
Alma mater Washington University in St. Louis
Religion Judaism

Mayer Jacob "Chic" Hecht (November 30, 1928 – May 15, 2006) was a Republican United States Senator from Nevada and U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas.[1]


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and career 1.1
    • Political career 1.2
    • Activism for Soviet Jews 1.3
    • Relationship with John Kerry 1.4
    • Post politics 1.5
  • References 2
  • External links 3


Early life and career

Hecht was born into a Jewish family in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in retailing from Washington University in St. Louis in 1949.[2]

Hecht attended Military Intelligence School at Fort Holabird and served as an intelligence agent with the U.S. armed forces during the Korean War, from 1951 to 1953. Hecht was a member of the National Military Intelligence Association, and was inducted into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame in 1988.[1]

After leaving military service, Hecht moved to Nevada. His business activities included retailing, the operation of a bank, and interests in hotels. He married the former Gail Kahn in 1959.

Political career

In 1966 he was elected to the Nevada Senate, the first Republican to represent his predominantly Democratic district in and around Las Vegas in more than 25 years. He was a state senator from 1967 to 1975, serving as Senate minority leader from 1969 to 1970.

In 1982 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, ousting four-term incumbent Democrat Howard Cannon in a major upset. He served only one term, from 1983 to 1989, having been defeated for reelection in 1988 by Democratic Governor Richard Bryan. In the Senate, Mr. Hecht became known for his verbal slips and miscues, including a vow at one point to not permit a "nuclear suppository" in his home state.[3]

After his loss, he was then appointed ambassador to the

United States Senate
Preceded by
Howard Cannon
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Nevada
Served alongside: Paul Laxalt, Harry Reid
Succeeded by
Richard Bryan
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Carol Boyd Hallett
United States Ambassador to the Bahamas
August 23, 1989–March 1, 1993
Succeeded by
Lino Gutierrez
(as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim)

External links

  1. ^ a b "Hecht, Jacob Chic". 
  2. ^ a b Vogel, Ed (2006-05-16). "Hecht, former U.S. senator, dies in LV". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 
  3. ^ "Chic Hecht, 77, Former Senator and Businessman From Nevada, Is Dead". New York Times. 18 May 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Reidy, Chris (July 12, 1989). "Graham Loses Battle On Hecht Ex-senator Confirmed As Ambassador To The Bahamas". Orlando Sentinel. Sentinel Washington Bureau. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Senator-Hecht and President Reagan
  8. ^ "EDITORIAL: Chic Hecht, at 77". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 2006-05-18. 
  9. ^ a b "Jewish Sightseeing". 2006-06-20. 
  10. ^ "Obituary: Senator Jacob ("Chic") Hecht (1929-2006)". 2006-05-15. 
  11. ^ a b Searer, Kirsten (2004-02-06). "Former GOP Sen. Hecht owes life to Democratic candidate Kerry". Las Vegas Sun. 
  12. ^ CQ Politicsl
  13. ^ Campaign Line


After finishing his time as ambassador to the Bahamas in 1994, Hecht returned home to Las Vegas to focus on his business activities. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005. Hecht died of the disease on May 15, 2006, at age 77. He was survived by his wife and two daughters, Lori and Lesley.[2]

Post politics

[13] For the rest of his life, Hecht called Kerry on

Hecht's name reappeared in the news in the course of the 2004 presidential election because of an event during his term in the Senate. On July 12, 1988, Hecht was leaving a Republican weekly policy lunch when he began to choke on an apple slice from his lunch of fruit salad and cottage cheese. Unable to talk to his colleagues and not wanting to vomit on them, he ran into the hallway, where Senator Kit Bond, a Republican from Missouri, unsuccessfully tried to help Hecht. Senator John Kerry, stepping off an elevator at the time, recognized what was happening and quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver, saving Hecht's life.[11]

Relationship with John Kerry

Hecht credited the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, for prompting him to undertake the effort.[10]

The former senator related that Reagan told him afterwards that he had given the list to the Soviet leader at the beginning of the summit when the two men met alone. Hecht said that Reagan was told by Gorbachev, "as long as nothing is in the paper, there is no publicity, and we don't hear about it," Jews on the list would be quietly released.[9]

Before the Reykjavík Summit in 1986, Hecht met with President Ronald Reagan.[7] Hecht urged Reagan to ask Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to ease emigration requirements for Soviet Jews, including those on a list that had been prepared by a member of the Council for Soviet Jewry.[8][9] Hecht reported his effort as successful:

Activism for Soviet Jews

He served from 1989 until 1993. [6] Nevertheless, Hecht was easily confirmed by a 78 to 19 vote on July 11, 1989.[5] argued Hecht was unqualified to serve in a position growing in importance in the war against drugs and took exception to Hecht's remarks during his confirmation hearing, when he stated he would feel at home because the position "is a nice lifestyle" with "a lot of nice golf courses and good fishing."John Breaux and Bob Graham During his confirmation, he encountered opposition from some Democratic Senators, an unusual occurrence for Senators to oppose the nomination of a former colleague. Some members like Senator [4]

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