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Steve D. Symms Edit Profile

United States representative , journalist , lobbyist , officer , politician , United States senator

Steve D. Symms, former United States Senator from Idaho. Served with United States Marine Corps, 1960-1963.


Symms, Steve D. was born on April 23, 1938 in Nampa, Idaho, United States. Son of Darwin and Irene (Knowlton) Symms.


Symms attended public schools in Canyon County and graduated from Caldwell High School in 1956. He studied horticulture at the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he was a reserve center on the football team and was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He graduated in 1960 with a B.S. in agriculture, then served in the U.S. Marines for three years, after which he worked as a private pilot and apple farmer.


He served as a four-term congressman (1973–81) and two-term U.S. Senator (1981–93). He took conservative stances on significant issues. He is currently a partner at Parry, Romani, DeConcini & Symms, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. From 1969–72, he was editor of the newspaper, the Idaho Compass.

CongressIn 1972, Symms ran for Congress with a theme tied to his apple farm. He featured a drawing of a big red apple and the slogan, "Take a bite out of big government!" He was elected to the open seat in the U.S. House at age 34 and was re-elected three times, then ran for the U.S. Senate in 1980. Aided by political action committees, he unseated four-term incumbent Democrat Frank Church, winning by less than one percent in the Republican landslide.

Symms was re-elected in 1986, defeating Democratic Governor John V. Evans in another hard-fought and close election. Symms chose not to seek a third term in 1992 and was succeeded by the Republican mayor of Boise, Dirk Kempthorne, a future two-term Idaho governor and U.S. Secretary of the Interior. During part of his tenure in the Senate, Symms sat at the Candy desk.

Post-SenateAfter leaving the U.S. Senate in 1993, Symms founded Symms, Lehn Associates, Inc., a consulting firm. In January 1999, he partnered with John Haddow and formed Symms & Haddow Associates, a lobbying firm. In January 2001, the firm joined forces with Romano Romani and former Senator Dennis DeConcini of Parry, Romani & DeConcini to form Parry, Romani, DeConcini & Symms.

Prior to his senior year at Idaho, Symms married college sweetheart Frances E. "Fran" Stockdale of Helena, Montana, in August 1959. Following his re-election in 1986, the couple separated, and their divorce was finalized in 1990. Symms married Loretta Mathes Fuller in 1992, a former aide and later the Deputy Sergeant of Arms of the U.S. Senate.

Symms was one of several Republican senators who in 1981 called into the White House to express his discontent over the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court. The opposition hinged over the issue of O'Connor's presumed unwillingness to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the 1988 U.S. presidential election, Symms claimed in a radio interview that a photograph existed from the 1960s showing Kitty Dukakis, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, burning an American flag to protest the Vietnam War.

Kitty Dukakis angrily denied the accusation as "totally false and beneath contempt," and Symms later admitted that he could not substantiate it. Nevertheless, the claim became national news, as media outlets began searching for the photograph Symms said he had "heard" about. The flag-burning story was one of several false rumors about Dukakis that circulated during the 1988 campaign.

"Mr. Symms's comment was the third time in a few days that prominent Republicans have publicly aired allegations that the Democrats have swiftly rebutted," the New York Times reported.


Served with United States Marine Corps, 1960-1963.


Children: Dan, Susan, Amy, Katy.

Darwin Symms

Irene (Knowlton) Symms

Dan Symms

Susan Symms

Amy Symms

Katy Symms