I was very sad to hear the news that former Senator Alan Dixon died Sunday morning only one day before what would have been his 87th birthday. Those who claim the moniker "Al the Pal" was a bad nickname are completely wrong. Whenever many of us used that name it was always with great respect and affection.
Alan Dixon was a moderate to sometimes almost conervative Democrat from a northern state. On the day that the Senate voted to confirm Clarence Thomas for the U.S. Supreme Court, his top aide Gene Callahan called me to tell me that Alan crossed the aisle to support President George H.W. Bush 41 and vote "yes" on the nomination.
Alan knew I would want to know about the vote because I knew Clarence Thomas and had vouched for him to Alan. But sadly that vote was costly for Alan and played some role in his Democratic primary defeat in 1992 when he lost to Carol Moseley-Braun. It was not the entire reason for Alan's defeat, since a third candidate spent a lof of money on negative ads aimed at Alan, but it was a factor.
I last saw Alan in October when he came to DC to promote his biography called The Gentleman from Illinois. He was a gentleman of the old school and a patriot who loved his country and state above his party. He will be missed by many of us who knew him. God bless his widow Jody and their three children.