WASHINGTON — Tom Foley, the courtly former speaker of the U.S. House who lost his seat when Republicans seized control of Congress in 1994, has died of complications from a stroke. He was 84.
His wife, Heather, said the former speaker had suffered the stroke in December and was hospitalized in May with pneumonia. He returned home after a week and had been on hospice care there ever since, she said.
Foley also served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years in the Clinton administration.
He served 30 years in the U.S. House, including more than five years as speaker.
The Democrat, who had never served a single day in the minority, was ousted by a smooth young Spokane lawyer, Republican George Nethercutt, who won by 4,000 votes in the mostly rural, heavily Republican district in eastern Washington state.
Foley wasn’t the victim of scandal or charges of gross incompetence. Instead, his ability as speaker to bring home federal benefits was a point Nethercutt used against him, accusing Foley of pork-barrel politics.
He was replaced as speaker by his nemesis, Georgia Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich.