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John Jefferson Hawke (August 18, 1933 - December 30, 2011) was an American politician, lawyer and progressive activist best known for his decades of service as a U.S. Representative for Connecticut's 1st District, centered around Hartford and the center of the state. Regarded as an icon of the progressive left, Hawke was a former member of the Socialist Party of the United States in his youth, a fervent opponent of the death penalty, an advocate of a punitive regulatory system, of increased government spending for a variety of causes, and of the reduction of the American nuclear arsenal. He was passed over for Speaker of the House on numerous occasions due to his outspokeness, and was often regarded as a wildcard in the House. Elected to the House in the 1974 midterms, he served in his seat until his death on December 30, 2011 at the age of 78 after a battle with cancer. At various points, he held the positions of House Majority/Minority Whip, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman of the House Finance Committee, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Chairman of the Democratic Party of the United States, and was the longest-serving Democrat in the House by the time of his death, having served thirty-six years, a single term longer than longtime friend Kurt Goessens.