from the Ohio Historical Society
Frank John Lausche was Ohio’s only five-term governor.
Lausche was born on November 14, 1895, in Cleveland, Ohio. After a brief stint as a minor-league baseball player, he enlisted in the United States Army during World War I. He attained the rank of second lieutenant. With the war’s conclusion, Lausche entered the John Marshall School of Law, graduating in 1920.
For the next twelve years, Lausche practiced law in Cleveland. In 1932, he embarked upon a career in politics, becoming a municipal judge in Cleveland. He held this office from 1932 until 1937, when he became a judge with the Court of Common Pleas. In 1941, Lausche, a Democrat, won election as mayor of Cleveland, an office that he held until 1944, when he was elected Ohio’s fifty-fifth governor. Lausche received seventy-one percent of the vote in the mayor’s race in 1941.
Lausche was a member of the Democratic Party, but in his various political offices, Lausche became well known for his moderate views. He routinely crossed party lines, voting for what he thought was right and not what his party demanded of him. As governor, he became well known for his fiscal conservatism. His moderate views partly cost him reelection as Ohio’s governor in 1946, but two years later, Ohio voters reelected Lausche to the governor’s seat. Lausche served as governor from 1945 to 1947 and then from 1949 to 1957. What remains surprising about Lausche’s lengthy time in office is that the Republican Party held a dominant majority in state offices during this time. By being moderate in his views, Lausche probably remained in office much longer than he otherwise would have done so. Of Slovenian ancestry, Lausche also attracted ethnic voters, especially in Ohio’s major cities. He was the only five-term governor in Ohio’s history. While Lausche served as governor, Harry Truman, a Democrat, and Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, considered selecting Lausche as their vice-presidential running mate.
In 1956, Lausche successfully ran for one of Ohio’s two United States Senate seats. He became known as “Frank the Fence” because of his willingness to cross party lines. He won reelection in 1962, but because of his apparent lack of loyalty to the Democratic Party, Lausche failed to secure his party’s nomination in 1968. He served in the Senate from January 3, 1957 to January 3, 1969.
Following his two terms in the U.S. Senate, Lausche retired from public life. He died on April 21, 1990.