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Carlos Moorhead, longtime congressional representative, dies at 89

He was known for his ability to work across party lines to get things done.

November 30, 2011|By Tiffany Kelly, tiffany.kelly@latimes.com
  • Former Congressman Carlos J. Moorhead pictured in 2005. (File photo)
Former Congressman Carlos J. Moorhead pictured in 2005.…

Former Rep. Carlos Moorhead — whose 24 years in Congress representing the tri-city area earned him the title of dean of the California Republican Congressional delegation — has died. He was 89.

Moorhead represented Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena for two dozen years after serving in the California Assembly for six years, and in that time, amassed a faithful base of support in the region.

He died Nov. 23 at an assisted living facility after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to his stepson, Paul Bradford.

“I think of three key words when I think about him: principled, patient, determined,” said Bradford. “He would gladly welcome being called a workhorse. He loved working hard for his constituents.”

His stepfather, whom Bradford called “pop” since he was 7 years old, was innately calm when faced with difficult situations and political spats, he said.

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“You rarely saw him get agitated,” Bradford said. “I think he modeled how to disagree without being disagreeable.”

His widow, Valery Moorhead, said in a statement the former congressman drew on his faith to motivate his involvement in politics.

“I know he felt blessed to serve this community … it was really his calling,” she said. “He felt the Lord tugging him into public service, and he did his best to care for people and serve their interests.”

After working as an attorney, Carlos Moorhead entered politics in 1967 when he was elected to the California Assembly. In 1973, he was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives, where he served until his retirement in 1997.

Moorhead also served as Republican minority chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Judiciary Committee.

Eric Ashton, a Glendale CPA and longtime Moorhead confidant, praised the congressman’s ability to get along with members of both political parties.

“He was a solid Republican,” Ashton said. “He was not overly ideal. He was rational and reasonable and the Democrats liked him.”

Ashton served as treasurer to Moorhead throughout his entire congressional career. They met in Glendale in 1959 at a Young Republicans group meeting.

Moorhead later introduced Ashton to President Gerald Ford when he made a campaign stop in Glendale. The congressman, said Ashton, was on a first-name basis with Ford, as well as presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

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