Edward Brooke, first black popularly elected to U.S. Senate, dies: Republican party spokeswoman

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Edward Brooke, Senator, dies at 95
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Edward Brooke, first black popularly elected to U.S. Senate, dies: Republican party spokeswoman
Brooke, who was best known as the first black U.S. Senator elected since Reconstruction, died at age 95.
Former Massachusetts Sen. Edward William Brooke speaks in the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, during a ceremony where he received the Congressional Gold Medal. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Former Massachusetts Sen. Edward William Brooke talks to friends in the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, after a ceremony where he received the Congressional Gold Medal. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Former Sen. Edward W. Brooke, 86, poses at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Tuesday, April 24, 2007. According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Senate, Brooke became the first African-American elected by popular vote to the U.S. Senate in 1966 as a Republican from Massachusetts. Brooke was at the historical society for a talk and to sign copies of his book "Bridging the Divide: My Life". (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Sen. Edward W. Brooke is abou to pat Republican Presidential contender John B. Anderson, R-Ill., left, on the back Thursday, Feb. 1, 1980 at a Boston news conference, after Brooke endorsed Anderson for the nomination. Brooke called Anderson the only true moderate among the GOP contenders. (AP Photo/Martell)
Rep. Jesse Jackson, right, claps hands with Sen. Edward Brooke as the two spoke to a campaign rally in Boston’s City Hall Plaza, Sunday, Nov. 6, 1978. (AP Photo)
Sen. Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) after his defeat to Paul E. Tsongas in Boston, Massachusetts, Nov. 7, 1978. (AP Photo/Dave Tenenbaum)
Coretta Scott King, left, president of the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change in Atlanta, and Gloria Steinem, founder and editor of Ms. Magazine also one of the first leaders in the women's movement, speak at the Boston City Women's Club, Oct. 29, 1978 giving their support to incumbent Sen. Edward Brooke who is running against senatorial hopeful Paul Tsongas. (AP Photo/Paul Benoit)
Sen. Edward Brooke, R-Mass., waves a sheaf of papers as he testifies before the Senate Ethics committee, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 1978 in Washington. Brooke denied any wrongdoing in connection with a complicated series of financial transactions. (AP Photo/Harrity)
Sen. Edward W. Brooke of Massachussets, enters Middlesex Probate Court in Cambridge, Mass., June 7, 1978 to tell judge Lawrence Perara about so-called mistatements made by Brooke on a deposition of his financial status in connection with his divorce from his Italian-born wife Remigia. (Ap Photo)
Senator Edward Brooke (R- Mass.), March 12, 1975. (AP Photo/Henry Griffin)
Sen. Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) in Washington, March 25, 1971. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)
U.S. Sen. Edward W. Brooke, (R-Mass) fights to hold back tears after President Lyndon Johnson thanked him, by phone, for his first hand report to the people on his fact finding journey to Southeast Asia, March 26, 1967. Brooke was interviewed on nationally televised “Face The Nation” program in a Boston studio. (AP Photo)
United States Senator Edward Brooke (R-Mass) meets former Mass. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, in Saigon, March 17, 1967 where Lodge is US Ambassador to South Vietnam, in the last weeks of his service. Brooke is on a fact-finding tour of Asia, and spent several days in Vietnam. (AP Photo/Cung)
Edward W. Brooke, candidate for Attorney General flashes confident smile when pre-primary Republican convention delegates went into second ballot, at Worcester, Mass. on June 16, 1962. Brooke and Eliot Richardson are seeking the delegates endorsement. (AP Photo/J. Walter Green)
Senator Edward Brooke, Republican-Massachusetts, Jan. 12, 1967. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)

n">(Reuters) - Edward Brooke, the Massachusetts Republican who was the first African-American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, died on Saturday at the age of 95, the state Republican Party said.

Brooke was Massachusetts attorney general when he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1966, at a time when the country was gripped by racial unrest.

Before his election, there were two other African-American senators shortly after the Civil War. But until early in the 20th century, senators were picked by state legislatures and not by popular vote.

In the Senate, Brooke joined a small band of liberal Republicans who often went against the wishes of the Republican president, Richard Nixon.

Brooke opposed the buildup of troops in Vietnam, and later in the middle of the Watergate scandal, he became the first Republican senator to call for Nixon to resign.

He was re-elected in 1972 by an almost 2-1 margin. But by the time he ran for a third term in 1978, he was involved in a public divorce proceeding. And questions were raised about a sworn statement he made regarding a $49,000 loan that he later admitted was a "misstatement and a mistake."

His popularity plummeted and he was defeated by Democrat Paul Tsongas by 55 to 41 percent.

Brooke was born in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26, 1919. His father was an attorney for the Veterans Administration.

Brooke entered Howard University at the age of 16, fought in World War Two and earned a law degree from Boston College.

As a lawyer, he lost several political bids before being appointed chairman of the Boston Finance Commission and then won the job of attorney general in 1962, the first African-American in the country to rise to that high state office.

As attorney general, he oversaw the investigation into the case of the "Boston Strangler," a serial killer who terrorized women in New England.

After leaving the Senate he returned to private law practice.

In 2002 Brooke was diagnosed with breast cancer and became a national leader in raising awareness of the disease in men, which occurs much less frequently than in women.

Brooke's name surfaced in gossip columns in 2008 when TV journalist and interviewer Barbara Walters said in her autobiography that she had an affair with the senator in the 1970s.

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