Victor Fazio, longtime Democratic House leader, dies at 79

Victor Fazio, a longtime Democratic congressman from California who served as the House leadership for several years, died March 16 at h...


Victor Fazio, a longtime Democratic congressman from California who served as the House leadership for several years, died March 16 at his home in Arlington, Virginia. He was 79 years old.

The cause was cancer, according to a statement from his former congressional office.

Mr. Fazio represented the Sacramento area from 1979 to 1999. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he helped fund numerous projects, including a multi-million dollar environmental institute at the University of California, Davis. He also lobbied for funds to protect 3,700 acres of wetlands west of Sacramento as a refuge; dedicated by President Bill Clinton in 1997, it is known as the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area.

Known for his low-key, bipartisan style, he often worked in partnership with the powerful Republican Representative from California Jerry Lewis, who died last year.

Mr. Fazio’s most difficult time may have been his tenure as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1994 – the year Republicans, led by Rep. Newt Gingrich, took control of the House to the first time in 40 years.

Yet because of Mr. Fazio’s ability to work across the aisle, his colleagues chose him the following year as chairman of the House Democratic caucus.

After retiring from Congress, he worked at a public relations firm in Washington run by Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman. He then joined the Washington office of the powerful law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and was regularly named to the annual list of top lobbyists by the political newspaper The Hill. He retired from Akin Gump in 2020.

Victor Herbert Fazio Jr. was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, on October 11, 1942. His father was an insurance salesman, his mother a housewife and manager of a clothing store.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Union College in Schenectady, NY, in 1965 before moving to California on a Caro Foundation scholarship.

In 1970, he co-founded California Journal now-defunct magazine that covered state government and politics, and served in the California State Assembly before winning his House seat in 1978.

His first marriage, to Joella Mason, ended in divorce. His second wife, Judy Neidhardt Kern, whom he married in 1983, deceased in 2015.

In 2017 he married Kathy Sawyer. Besides her, he is survived by a daughter from his first marriage, Dana Fazio Lawrie; two stepchildren, Kevin and Kristie Kern; and four granddaughters. A daughter, Anne Noel Fazio, died in 1995.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Victor Fazio, longtime Democratic House leader, dies at 79
Victor Fazio, longtime Democratic House leader, dies at 79
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