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Dale Leon Bumpers (August 12, 1925 – January 1, 2016) was a retired Democrat politician from the U.S. state of Arkansas. He was governor of his state from 1971 to 1975 and U.S. senator from 1975 until his retirement in 1999.
A native of Charleston in Franklin County in western Arkansas, Bumpers served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and was a long-time admirer of former Governor Adlai Stevenson. He served as the Charleston city attorney and briefly as a special justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court.
In 1970, the politically unknown Bumpers defeated former Governor Orval E. Faubus in the Democratic gubernatorial primary runoff election. Then, by a wide margin, he unseated the incumbent Republican Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. After four years as governor, he was succeeded by fellow Democrat David Pryor. In 1974, Bumpers won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate by a wide margin over incumbent J. William Fulbright, known for his opposition to the Vietnam War. Thereafter, Bumpers was elected to the Senate again in 1980, 1986, when he defeated Republican Asa Hutchinson, and in 1992, when he toppled future Governor Mike Huckabee. Bumpers stepped down from the Senate in 1999 and was succeeded by the Democrat Blanche Lincoln.
Like Fulbright his predecessor and intraparty rival, Bumpers was a long-time admirer of U.S. President Bill Clinton. In 1999, as a former senator, Bumpers delivered an impassioned speech before the Senate in successful opposition to the trial of the impeachment of Clinton on grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Bumpers and his wife, the former Betty Flanagan, also a defender of various liberal causes, are retired in Charleston, Arkansas. In 2012, Bumpers spoke out for the reelection of U.S. President Barack H. Obama.