In Memoriam: Gov. Richard Lamm

Richard Douglas Lamm was an American politician and lawyer. He served three terms as Governor of Colorado as a Democrat (1975–1987) and ran for the Reform Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 1996.

Lamm obtained his law degree in 1961 from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1969 Lamm joined the faculty of the University of Denver.

In 1972, as a member of the Colorado General Assembly, Lamm led the movement against Denver’s hosting of the 1976 Winter Olympics. Denver had already been awarded the games, but the movement succeeded in cutting off public funding for the games, forcing the city to cancel its hosting. Innsbruck, Austria replaced Denver as the host.

Lamm was elected as Governor of Colorado in 1974. When he left office in 1987, he was the longest serving governor of the state. In 1984, his outspoken statements in support of physician-assisted suicide generated some controversy, specifically over his use of the phrase “we have a duty to die.” One of his acts as governor was designating folk music poet John Denver as the Poet Laureate of Colorado.

In 1985, while still in the governor’s office, he tried his hand at published fiction as a novelist. The resulting novel, 1988, was a story about a former Democratic governor of Texas running for U.S. President on a populist, third-party ticket, declaring himself a “progressive conservative.” The main character bore a number of similarities to Lamm himself, in his stated political positions, his background as a Democratic governor, as well as presaging Lamm’s own unsuccessful run for the Reform Party nomination in 1996. Interestingly, though, the main character in 1988 was also portrayed as a pawn of an international conspiracy to capture the White House.

He served as the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and on the Board of Directors of the Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America (DASA). He was the Co-Director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University of Denver. He was also a Certified Public Accountant. He authored a book, The Brave New World of Health Care, a criticism of current United States health care policies and proposals for reforming them.

Share this Page