Military Wiki
Ike Skelton
Chairman of the
House Armed Services Committee

In office
January 4, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by Duncan Hunter
Succeeded by Buck McKeon
Ranking Member of the
House Armed Services Committee

In office
February 6, 1998 – January 4, 2007
Leader Dick Gephardt
Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by Ron Dellums
Succeeded by Duncan Hunter
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by William Randall
Succeeded by Vicky Hartzler
Member of the Missouri Senate

In office
Personal details
Born Isaac Newton Skelton IV
(1931-12-20)December 20, 1931
Lexington, Missouri
Died October 28, 2013(2013-10-28) (aged 81)
Arlington, Virginia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susan Anding Skelton (m. 1961–2005)
Patty Martin (m. 2009; his death 2013)
Residence Lexington, Missouri
Alma mater Wentworth Military Academy, University of Missouri, University of Edinburgh
Occupation Attorney
Religion Disciples of Christ

Isaac Newton Skelton IV (December 20, 1931 – October 28, 2013) was an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 4th congressional district from 1977 to 2011. During his tenure, he served as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He was a member of the Democratic Party. On November 2, 2010, he lost his seat to Vicky Hartzler.

Early life, education and career[]

Skelton was born in Lexington, Missouri, a rural town with extensive Civil War history. He was the son of Carolyn Marie (Boone) and Isaac Newton Skelton III.[1]

In 1928, Skelton's father met Harry S. Truman, then a Jackson County judge, and the men became good friends. When he was 17, Skelton attended Truman's 1949 inauguration.[2]

Skelton was an Eagle Scout.[3] He earned an associate of arts degree from Wentworth Military Academy and College in 1951, an A.B. in 1953 and an LL.B. in 1956 from the University of Missouri. He is a brother of Sigma Chi and Alpha Phi Omega at the University of Missouri. He also attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1953. Skelton then became a lawyer and entered private practice in Lafayette County, Missouri.

He was a prosecuting attorney from 1957 until 1960 and a special assistant attorney general.

Missouri Senate[]

Skelton was a member of the Missouri Senate, representing Lafayette County, from 1971 until 1977.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives[]

Inaugural Congressional photo of Skelton from the 1977 Congressional Pictorial Directory.

Committee assignments[]

As chairman of the full committee, Skelton served as an ex officio member of all subcommittees.

Skelton served as Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, having previously served as Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee since 1998 but was promoted to Chairman following the 2006 midterm elections when Democrats regained control of Congress.

Political positions[]

Skelton voted with Democratic leadership 94.6% of the time during the 111th Congress, meaning he broke with his party more frequently than 82% of the Democratic Caucus.[5] Vicky Hartzler, Skelton's 2010 Congressional opponent, stated on the campaign trail that Skelton has voted in line with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 95% of the time during his tenure in the House.[6]

Before the 2006 election, Skelton told columnist George Will that if the Democrats won control of Congress, his main priority would be "oversight, oversight, oversight!" While he voted for the War in Iraq, he expressed serious misgivings about troop readiness. In 2006, he favored reducing the number of troops in Iraq and supported redeploying a brigade from Iraq to Kuwait. Will suggested that under Skelton, the Armed Services Committee would resemble a U.S. Senate committee created to examine defense spending during World War II. This committee was chaired by Skelton's hero, Harry S. Truman.[7]

Fiscal issues[]

Skelton voted against the 2001 Bush Tax cuts.[8] In 1981, he voted against Reagan's tax cuts.[9] He was supportive of labor.[10] The League of Conservation Voters rated Skelton at 53 percent on environmental issues. He was one of the few Congressional Democrats to vote in favor of CAFTA and mostly supported free trade deals. He was a supporter of TRiO programs.

Social issues[]

Skelton was fairly conservative on social issues. He opposed abortion and gun control. He helped craft the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and voted against its repeal in 2010.

Military issues[]

Skelton was a long-time proponent of the Missouri National Guard, in recognition for which the National Guard Training Center in Jefferson City is named in his honor. However, at times he has disagreed with other members of Missouri's congressional delegation over the state's defense installations. In 2005, for instance, he opposed Senator Kit Bond's efforts to keep open the 131st Air National Guard Fighter Wing in St. Louis County.

The wing was considered an "alert site" by the Defense Department, responsible for maintaining sovereignty over United States air space. In its final report, the 9/11 Commission found that the lack of alert sites, and with their positions primarily on the nation's periphery, reduced the capability of the military to respond effectively to the 9/11 attacks.[11] Senator Bond testified in the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) hearings against the closure of the 131st, which was based at Lambert International Airport. He noted that this wing, which was located in a strategically important location, had protected critical assets on 09-11-01. He warned that the loss of the wing would compromise security over a vast area of the Midwestern United States.[12] Representative Skelton, as the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee,[13] voted in favor of closure.[14] The House passed the BRAC recommendations, and the base was subsequently closed, with its components deployed elsewhere.[15]


On October 8, 2009, Skelton, after addressing fellow Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, a Republican, on the House floor, said to Akin, "stick it up your ass." The comment was picked up by the microphone and could be heard on the C-SPAN broadcast. Skelton's spokeswoman, Jennifer Kohl, said the comment was not intended to be broadcast and was "said out of frustration in the heat of debate." Akin's spokesman, Steve Taylor, said the remark was "shocking and not characteristic of Skelton's behavior."[16]

Political campaigns[]

When William J. Randall retired after 17 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Skelton won the Democratic nomination to succeed him with 40% of the vote in a crowded primary field of nine Democratic candidates.[17] He ran with the endorsement of Truman's widow, Bess, which he attributes to his own father's support for Harry S. Truman in the 1940 U.S. Senate primary.[18] He was reelected 16 times, usually by well over 60 percent of the vote. Before 2010, he only faced one truly serious challenge, in 1982. That year, Missouri lost a district, and Skelton's district was merged with the neighboring 8th District, represented by freshman Republican Wendell Bailey. Although Skelton retained almost 60 percent of his former territory, Bailey held him to 54 percent of the vote.


Skelton seemed to have a fairly secure hold on his district, even though it had been trending Republican for some time. The rural areas of the district, once solidly Democratic, had turned increasingly Republican since the turn of the century. Indeed, in 2000, Republicans captured most of the area's legislative seats and have held them ever since. Even before then, the district had been shedding more of the strongly Democratic areas near Kansas City due to that city's dwindling population. As a result, it had been pushed further into heavily Republican Southwest Missouri. It was considered very likely that Skelton would be succeeded by a Republican once he retired.

In 2010, Skelton faced former Republican state representative Vicky Hartzler, who had been out of politics for more than a decade. Polls consistently showed a very competitive race, easily the most competitive the district had seen in decades. Most pundits rated it as a toss-up.

Skelton lost to Hartzler, 50 percent to 45 percent.[19] While Skelton ran evenly with Hartzler in the areas closer to Kansas City, he lost badly in the rural areas, including some that had supported him for many years.

Awards and honors[]

In 2005 the U S Navy Memorial Foundation awarded Skelton its Naval Heritage award for his support of the U S Navy and military during his years in Congress. In 2010, Skelton was recognized by then, Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, as an Honorary Marine, the first U.S. congressman to be awarded the title.[20] In 2012, the United States Military Academy recognized Skelton with the Sylvanus Thayer Award. In the same year, the USAF Air University presented Skelton with an honorary Doctor of Law degree for his work in the advancement of military education.

Personal life[]

His wife of 44 years, Susan Anding Skelton, died on August 23, 2005. Later that year, on November 26, Skelton was injured when a van carrying him and fellow U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy and Jim Marshall overturned near Baghdad Airport while on an official visit to Iraq. Skelton and Murphy were airlifted to a U.S. Military hospital in Germany after complaining of neck pain. Both made a full recovery.

On August 29, 2009, Skelton married Patty Martin, a longtime friend and widowed middle school counselor from his home town.[21]

Skelton was an honorary chieftain in Scouting's Tribe of Mic-O-Say. He was also of distant relation to Daniel Boone as well as to U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter of New York.[22]


Skelton died of pneumonia at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia on October 28, 2013, at the age of 81.[23] According to Skelton's colleague, Russell Orban, Skelton had been admitted to the hospital a week earlier with a bad cough.[24]

Skelton's memoir, Achieve the Honorable, had been published just two weeks before his death.


  1. "skelton". Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  2. "Ike Skelton (D-Mo.)". Who Runs Gov. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  3. "Distinguished Eagle Scouts". Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  4. IT, Missouri Secretary of State -. "Missouri Legislators S". Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  5. "House voting with party scores | 111th Congress | Congressional votes database |". Archived from the original on 2010-09-14. Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  6. Tiron, Roxana (2010-09-04). "GOP targets vulnerable Armed Services panel chairman Skelton". The Hill. Retrieved 2010-09-07. "Hartzler has repeatedly criticized Skelton for voting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) 95 percent of the time and is trying to make in-roads on issues such as climate change, which Skelton supported in 2009." 
  7. Will, George F. (2006-08-02). "A Species Yet Not Extinct". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-09-15. "Today some people say more—perhaps 50,000 more—troops should be sent to Iraq. Skelton says: "Oh, we have the troops. But are they ready? No." Two months ago he wrote to the president that "two thirds of the [Army's] brigade combat teams in our operating force are unready." He says 40 percent of the Army and Marine Corps ground equipment is in Afghanistan or Iraq; so, many troops outside those theaters cannot train properly." [dead link]
  9. "The Nevada Daily Mail - Google News Archive Search".,1935751&dq=ike+skelton&hl=en. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  10. "Ike Skelton, former Representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District -". Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  11. "The 9/11 Commission Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-09-18. 
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-05. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  15. Pike, John. "131st Fighter Wing [131st FW"]. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  16. [1][dead link]
  17. Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa (1981). The Almanac of American Politics 1982. Washington, D.C.: Barone and Company. p. 620. ISBN 0-940702-01-0. 
  18. Konieczko, Jill (October 26, 2006). "Rep. Ike Skelton (Missouri)–Armed Services Committee". U.S.News & World Report, L.P.. 
  19. "Longtime Mo. Rep. Skelton loses to GOP opponent". November 2, 2010. 
  21. Rothstein, Betsy (February 11, 2009). "Rep. Skelton: Engaged, full of wisdom on love". The Hill. Retrieved 2009-07-07. [dead link]
  22. Barone & Cohen, 2008 Almanac of American Politics, p.958
  23. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  24. Fields, Dana. "Former Rep. Ike Skelton Dead at 81." ABC News. N.p., 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <>.

External links[]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William J. Randall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Vicky Hartzler
Political offices
Preceded by
Duncan Hunter
Chairman of House Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
Howard McKeon

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