Dawson Mathis, a Georgia TV newscaster turned politician who served five terms in Congress and later became a lobbyist in Washington, died April 17 at a hospital in Tifton, Ga. He was 76.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said his wife, Cathy-Jo Mathis.
Mr. Mathis, a Democrat with a conservative voting record, represented a southwestern, heavily agricultural district that included Albany, Ga., from 1971 to 1981. He served on the House Agriculture Committee and what was then the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee.
In 1980, he decided not to seek reelection to a seat that was considered safely his and instead mounted a challenge to Sen. Herman E. Talmadge, who had been censured by his colleagues a year earlier for financial malfeasance. Talmadge, a former governor with a deep well of support, won the Democratic primary but lost the general election to Republican Mack Mattingly.
Two years later, Mr. Mathis failed to recapture his old congressional seat from his successor, Charles Hatcher (D).
Instead, Mr. Mathis prospered as a lobbyist, with clients including the United Parcel Service, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Westinghouse Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric, and the Georgia Peanut Producers Association.
Marvin Dawson Mathis was born in Berrien County, Ga., on Nov. 30, 1940, and attended South Georgia State College in Douglas. He worked in radio before serving as news director of WALB-TV in Albany from 1964 to 1970. He parlayed his high profile to a congressional career when Rep. Maston O’Neal Jr. (D) opted to retire in 1970.
Mr. Mathis moved to Nashville, Ga., from Washington in 2005 and continued working as a lobbyist for four more years.
His first marriage, to Patricia Connell, and his second marriage, to Sharon Beavers, ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 12 years, the former Cathy-Jo Kaseman of Nashville; three sons from his first marriage, Tony Mathis of Orange Park, Fla., Jason Mathis of Albany and Rusty Mathis of Leesburg, Ga.; two brothers, Ron Mathis of Fairfax County and Rick Mathis of Lumberton, N.C.; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A son from his first marriage, Craig Mathis, died in April.
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