Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tobacco's man in D.C. dies at 84

Horace Kornegay, the former U.S. Representative from Greensboro who went on to be one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington as head of the Tobacco Institute, has died at age 84. Rob Christensen of the News & Observer has an online piece on it here.
Kornegay was my congressman when I was growing up in Greensboro and becoming more aware of politics in the 1960s. He was one of a generation of Americans who grew up in the Great Depression, went off to serve in Europe in World War II and came back to North Carolina after the war to finish college, go to law school and build a career. A native of Asheville and graduate of Wake Forest, he was a popular local prosecutor in the 1950s whose nickname was "Dag" after the comic strip character Dagwood Bumstead. A Democrat, he went to Washington the year John Kennedy was sworn in and stepped down from the 6th District seat in 1969, when he became a vice president and later president and chairman of the Tobacco Institute, the cigarette manufacturer's lobby,until 1986. As Christensen notes in his story, Sen. Teddy Kennedy, D-Mass., regarded the tobacco lobby as the most powerful in Washington.
But tobacco's decline was already visible even before Kornegay became a lobbyist for tobacco. In 1964, the Surgeon General's report linking smoking and adverse health consequences touched off a long and sometimes rancorous public debate over tobacco. Today there aren't many folks still arguing that smoking is benign. In the N.C. General Assembly this year, there will be attempts to ban smoking in more public places, or at least give local governments more power to do so.
His daughter Kathy Kornegay married Jack Cozort, former legal counsel of Gov. Jim Hunt and a former judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals, who himself is a lobbyist in Raleigh where he is in private practice.

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