Edwards, John Reid

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Edwards, John Reid

John Reid Edwards (Johnny Reid Edwards), 1953–, U.S. politician, b. Seneca, S.C., grad. North Carolina State Univ. (B.A., 1974), Univ. of North Carolina (J.D., 1977). The son of a textile-mill worker and a postal employee, he was raised in a small North Carolina town and was the first person in his family to attend college. For two decades he had a successful practice as a trial lawyer, specializing in personal injury cases. A vigorous and photogenic Democrat, Edwards turned to politics in 1998, defeating the Republican incumbent to become a U.S. senator from North Carolina. In office, he served on the intelligence committee and supported such causes as affirmative action, abortion rights, and the reform of health-care insurance and campaign finance laws. Edwards ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, but was picked by the nominee, John Kerry, as his running mate. Kerry and Edwards lost to President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the Nov., 2004, election. Edwards subsequently ran unsuccessfully for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. In 2009 it was revealed that he had had an extramarital affair and fathered an out-of-wedlock child. He was charged in 2011 with campaign funding violations arising from a cover-up of the affair, but his trial in 2012 ended largely in a mistrial, and the charges subsequently were dropped. He reestablished a law practice in 2013.

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