Harold Hughes

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Harold Hughes (10 February 1922–23 October 1996) was governor of Iowa during the 1960s and a U.S. Senator for one term during the early 1970s. Hughes was a liberal Democrat but also a born again Christian, having recovered from alcoholism and citing his newfound faith and involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous for his recovery. In 1964 he supported Lyndon Johnson for president, and in 1968 supported anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy. Hughes ran for president himself in 1972 and 1976, bowing out early in each race.

Friendship with Chuck Colson[edit]

Hughes had become a fierce critic of the Vietnam War and later, the Watergate scandal which broke during his term in the Senate. As the Watergate scandal unfolded, Nixon aide Chuck Colson underwent a conversion to evangelical Christianity after reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This led to a friendship between Hughes and Colson. When a meeting between the two was first suggested, Colson remarked, "Harold Hughes? he considers me the number one menace to America!" but Colson was told that now that he was a born again Christian he would have a lot of new friends on both sides of the aisle due to his conversion. Sure enough, Hughes forgave Colson at the meeting, hugged him and called him brother.

Bottom line, solely because of their shared faith, Hughes turned overnight from one of Colson's fiercest critics in the Senate to one of his fiercest defenders, someone who in his words "will stand with you, defend you anywhere, and trust you with ANYTHING I have."[1]

C Street involvement[edit]

Harold Hughes did not run for a second term, instead announcing he would dedicate his activities to "efforts in alcoholism and drug treatment fields, working for social causes and world peace" through a "spiritual approach". This meant founding a religious retreat in Maryland, continuing to work closely with Chuck Colson on evangelistic outreach, and serving as president of the Fellowship Foundation (also known as The Fellowship, The Family, or C Street), a group that has recently come under much scrutiny as a purported evangelical Christian shadow government. C Street has even been glowingly described by Chuck Colson as a "veritable underground of Christ’s men all through the U.S. government.”[2]


Harold Hughes was the likely model for Senator Davenport in the 1990 movie Air America, a klutzy and not-too-bright liberal midwestern Senator, recovered alcoholic, and born again Christian who was visiting Laos on a fact-finding mission about opium smuggling.

Hughes portrayed himself in the 1978 film Born Again, a biopic of Chuck Colson.

He is also not to be confused with Howard Hughes, the controversial aviator, film producer, and later owner of several Las Vegas casinos.


  1. http://www.vop.com/previous_broadcasts/1999/sep/99376.html
  2. Colson, Charles. Born Again, Spire Books 1977