William Proxmire had been a member of the U.S. Senate for nearly 20 years before he hit on an idea that was to assure him of easy identification with a vast number of voters.
One of his favorites, he says today, went to the National Science Foundation, which spent $103,000 to study whether sun fish that drink tequila are more aggressive than sun fish that drink gin. "It was kind of a contest between gin and tequila," says Proxmire.
His popularity with the voters grew right along with his Senate longevity. He won his Senate seat in a special election in 1957, filling the seat left vacant by the death of Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy. "Wisconsin had elected only one Democrat to the Senate since 1896," he said. "When I ran for re-election the first time, it was very close, but after that I did fine."
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