Packwood sq
  • Oregon State Representative, 1963-1968.
  • United States Senator from Oregon, 1969-1995.

About U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood

Born in Portland in 1932, Bob Packwood came from a family of politicians. In his oral history, he recounts how as a young boy he listened to political discussion around his family’s dinner table with invited guests who were members of the legislature, the press and lobbyists.

Sen. Bob Packwood’s 1962 campaign for the Oregon House was considered “groundbreaking” in terms of his campaign techniques: lawn signs, coffees and bumper stickers. The Willamette University Archives is the repository for Packwood’s papers, and his original campaign “how-to” notebook is held there. It gives step-by-step instructions, with slides, on how to run a successful political campaign. He used this handbook to recruit Republican candidates and teach them his successful campaign methods for many years. 

Another key innovation Packwood developed during his time in the Oregon State Legislature was the Dorchester Conference. Designed to cultivate emerging leadership in the moderate wing of the Republican in the mid-1960s, the first conference ruffled some party feathers but proved to be a hit among many Republicans. Sessions focused on such topics as “Constitutionalism and Representative Democracy” and “Race and Reality: Republican Heritage or Republican Myth.”

Considered one of the rising stars of the Republican party, Bob Packwood took on and beat the incumbent and iconic Senator Wayne Morse in the 1968 election. Packwood served as U.S. senator from Oregon, and was reelected for four more terms. 

After his time as a U.S. senator, Packwood founded the lobbying firm Sunrise Research Corporation. He also played a key role in the 2001 fight to repeal the estate tax, and returned to the Senate as a witness for the Senate Finance Committee. 

– Interview recorded September 11, 2015