Jack French Kemp (July 13, 1935 – May 2, 2009) was an American politician and a collegiate and professional football player. A Republican, he served as Housing Secretary in the administration of President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, having previously served nine terms as a congressman for Western New York's 31st congressional district from 1971 to 1989. He was the Republican Party's nominee for Vice President in the 1996 election, where he was the running mate of presidential nominee Bob Dole. Kemp had previously contended for the presidential nomination in the 1988 Republican primaries.
Before entering politics, Kemp was a professional quarterback for 13 years. He played briefly in the National Football League (NFL) and the Canadian Football League (CFL), but became a star in the American Football League (AFL). He served as captain of both the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills and earned the AFL Most Valuable Player award in 1965 after leading the Bills to a second consecutive championship. He played in the AFL for all 10 years of its existence, appeared in its All-Star game seven times, played in its championship game five times, and set many of the league's career passing records. Kemp also co-founded the AFL Players Association, for which he served five terms as president. During the early part of his football career, he served in the United States Army Reserve.
As an economic conservative, Kemp advocated low taxes and supply-side policies during his political career. His positions spanned the social spectrum, ranging from his conservative opposition to abortion to his more libertarian stances advocating immigration reform. As a proponent of both Chicago school and supply-side economics, he is notable as an influence upon the Reagan agenda and the architect of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which is known as the Kemp–Roth tax cut.
After his days in political office, Kemp remained active as a political advocate and commentator, and served on corporate and nonprofit organization boards. He also authored, co-authored, and edited several books. He promoted American football and advocated for retired professional football players. Kemp was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama.
By Dean Hanley
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