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Former Nebraska Rep. Hoagland Dies at 66

Former Nebraska Rep. Peter Hoagland (D) died Tuesday at age 66. Friends said Hoagland had been suffering from symptoms of Parkinson’s disease since 2000. [IMGCAP(1)]

Hoagland served three terms in the House from 1989 until 1995, after a career as a Nebraska state Senator from 1978 to 1986. He had been a principal at the D.C. public affairs and lobbying firm Capitol Partners since 2004.

Friends and colleagues described Hoagland as a passionate intellectual.

Rep. Lee Terry (R), who represents the same district that Hoagland previously had, said that Hoagland enjoyed exchanging ideas without the burden of partisan politics.

“He expressed frustration that great ideas were drugged down by politics,” Terry said of the late Democrat.

Nebraska Democratic Party chairman Steve Achelpohl also remembered Hoagland as a man who was true to his beliefs.

“He always did what he thought was right,” said Achelpohl. “He called it like he saw it.”

In the state Legislature, Hoagland championed issues that he valued, including state sunshine laws, drunken-driving prevention, public education, health care reform and environmental issues, and eventually rose to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee, according to Jim Crounse, who was Hoagland’s chief of staff until 1991.

“Peter was an intellectual. He was a very smart guy, very passionate about issues,” said Crounse, who first met Hoagland when they were both running for the same seat in the state Legislature in 1978.

Hoagland began his career representing Nebraska’s 2nd district as a Member of the 101st Congress in 1989 and sat on the Banking Committee as a freshman, where Crounse said he was regarded as a “serious legislator.”

“Honestly, he made tough votes and didn’t really give it a second thought,” Crounse said.

Hoagland served as a member of the Ways and Means committee from 1992 to 1994. During that time, Hoagland voted in favor of President Bill Clinton’s controversial 1993 budget, said Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), because he was a man who was steadfast to his principles.

“He didn’t measure his success in the House with how long he stayed,” Pomeroy said, rather it was the work he was able to accomplish that mattered most.

In 1994 Hoagland lost his seat to Republican challenger Jon Christensen by less than 2,000 votes. Christensen left the House after two terms.

Hoagland was born in Omaha on Nov. 17, 1941. He received his primary education at Harrison and Dundee grade schools and Omaha Central High School. Hoagland received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1963 and served as a 1st lieutenant in the Army from 1963 to 1965 before receiving a J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1968.

Hoagland originally was affiliated with the Republican Party, like his parents, but switched sides during the Watergate era because he thought he was more philosophically in line with the Democratic Party, Crounse said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hoagland’s friends and colleagues sponsored a moment of silence on the House floor at 3:15 p.m. in honor of his memory.

Hoagland is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their five children. According to friends, funeral services will be held in Omaha, although an exact time and date has not been chosen yet.

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