ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Former U.S. Sen. Charles McC. Mathias, a liberal Republican from Maryland who championed civil rights and protection of the Chesapeake Bay during his 26 years in Washington, has died. He was 87.
Mathias died Monday at his home in Chevy Chase from complications of Parkinson’s disease, said his sons Charles and Robert.
Mathias’ career spanned the turbulent years of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, and he often found himself at odds with his party on those and other issues.
In retirement, Mathias broke with his party again in 2008 when he endorsed Sen. Barack Obama. He said Obama was “better suited to recharge America’s economic health, restore its prestige abroad and inspire anew all people who cherish freedom and equality.”
He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1960 from a western Maryland district and quickly gained a reputation as a Republican Party maverick. He was elected senator eight years later.