Sen. Dick Durbin: Former Senator Alan Dixon has died - Dallas News |

Sen. Dick Durbin: Former Senator Alan Dixon has died

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Alan Dixon, a fixture in Illinois politics having served in the Illinois legislature before going on to the U.S. Senate, has died, according to a statement issued Sunday by Sen. Dick Durbin’s office.

He was 86.

Dixon was known as “Al the Pal” -- to both supporters and critics alike.

His opponents suggested the Belleville Democrat was little more than an old-school, glad-hander, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

But Dixon made no apologies for his amiable style. As recently as last year he argued that it was what was sadly missing in Washington, D.C. today.

“We don’t have any bipartisanship now. We’ve just got everybody mad at one another. Not speaking,” Dixon said in an interview on WTAX radio.

“When I was there, you went out at night and had a beer with Danny Quayle or Bob Dole or somebody like that. I mean everybody was friendly. You worked out things.”

Dixon told of serving as a go-between in talks between Dole, the Senate’s Republican leader, and Dixon’s friend “Danny” Rostenkowski, then powerful Democratic head of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“We all talked in those days and were friends’ and carried on in a way that was civilized. Annd that’s got to happen again in this country.”

“From his days as a Police Magistrate in Belleville to his leadership position in the United States Senate, Alan Dixon was known for his honesty, his hard work and his commitment to the state he loved,” Durbin, also an Illinois Democrat, said in the statement.

Durbin, a fellow Democrat, said in a statement: “I lost a pal today and Illinois lost a man who brought honor to public service.”

Dixon was the first Democrat in the state to fully disclose his net worth, as well as the first to host bipartisan Illinois Congressional lunches, Durbin said.

Holding a series of elected offices over roughly four decades, his 42-year winning streak ended in 1992 when Carol Moseley Braun snagged the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate and eventually won the seat.

Dixon, who would have turned 87 on Monday, graduated from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1949 before he was admitted to Washington University’s law school, according to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

He served in the United States Navy Air Corps in 1945 and eventually went on to serve 20 years in the Illinois state house as both a state representative and a senator, according to the directory.

In 1971, Dixon became state treasurer and served six years before becoming secretary of state in 1977. He was elected in to the United States Senate in 1980.

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