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Linda Chavez: 1947—: Civil Rights Advocate, Columnist, Commentator

Experienced Political Transformation

Despite her growing disillusionment with prevailing liberal philosophy, Chavez still considered herself a Democrat. She also remained deeply committed to educational issues. She worked briefly for the Democratic National Committee shortly after she arrived in Washington. Not long thereafter, she went to work on Capitol Hill for Don Edwards, a Democratic congressman from California and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. She also worked briefly for the National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest teacher's union, but left when she found herself increasingly at odds with some of the NEA's policies. In 1977 she signed on as editor of American Educator, the official magazine of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second largest U.S. teachers' union and a rival of the NEA.

During her tenure as editor of American Educator, which continued until 1983, Chavez also served in 1977 as a consultant to the civil rights division of the Office of Management and Budget during the presidential administration of Democrat Jimmy Carter. In her position as editor, Chavez won growing popularity among conservatives for her support of a return to traditional values in the public schools as well as for her opposition to affirmative action. Shortly after the 1981 inauguration of Republican President Ronald Reagan, she was hired as a consultant to the White House, and in 1983, at the urging of William Bennett, who then chaired the National Endowment for the Humanities, Chavez was named director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

In the spring of 1985 Chavez became the highest-ranking woman on Reagan's White House staff when she was named director of the White House Office of Public Liaisons. With her appointment to that post, the time had finally come for her to officially switch her party allegiance from Democratic to Republican. One of her primary duties in that post was to lobby Congress in support of administration policies. She grew disillusioned with the job when she found that her influence over public policy was minimal and in February of 1986 resigned to seek the Republican Party's nomination as its candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from Maryland. Although she cleared the first hurdle, winning the GOP nod as candidate, Chavez was soundly defeated in the November election by Democrat Barbara Mikulski, who had served five terms in the House of Representatives.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographyLinda Chavez: 1947—: Civil Rights Advocate, Columnist, Commentator Biography - Difficult Childhood Lead To Early Action, Deemed "not Minority Enough", Experienced Political Transformation, Advanced Conservative Causes