Ed Edmondson, 71, an Oklahoma Democrat who served in the House of Representatives from 1953 to 1973, died Dec. 8 at a hospital in Muskogee, Okla. He had a heart ailment.
He announced his retirement from the House in 1971 to run for the U.S. Senate in 1972. He was defeated in the general election by Republican Dewey F. Bartlett. Mr. Edmondson ran for the Senate again in 1974, against Republican Henry Bellmon, and was defeated in a second close race. In 1978, he lost a Senate primary race to David Boren (D).
Mr. Edmondson was a native and resident of Muskogee. He was a 1940 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He then attended Georgetown University law school and worked for the FBI, where he rose from tour guide to clerk and then special agent, before entering the Navy during World War II. After service in the Pacific, he returned to law school and graduated in 1947.
He then returned to Oklahoma, where he served as Muskogee county attorney before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1952. Over the next 20 years, he rose to senior positions on the Public Works and Interior and Insular Affairs committees. He also served on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.
He represented Oklahoma's 2nd District. This included the state's northeast corner, except for the Tulsa area, and included most of Oklahoma's Indian population. Many of the district's other voters had political roots in the Democratic Party of the Deep South or the Republican Party of the Ozarks.
Mr. Edmondson, who gained a reputation as an increasingly conservative member of his party, decided to challenge the increasingly liberal Sen. Fred Harris in the 1972 primary. Harris eventually withdrew from the race, choosing to run for the Democratic presidential nomination instead. Mr. Edmondson lost the general election race by a razor-thin margin, a loss many attributed to the landslide reelection victory of President Nixon.
Since returning to Oklahoma in 1973, Mr. Edmondson had engaged in the private practice of law.
He was the brother of J. Howard Edmondson (D), a former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator who died in 1971.