Who are the most influential US political figures from west of the Mississippi?

Discussions about an East Coast bias on some political podcasts I follow made me wonder:

Who are the most influential political figures in US history from the West?

For purposes of the question:

[li]“The West” is west of the Mississippi River[/li][li]“From” means primarily raised there, if not born there. Born in the west but raised in the east doesn’t qualify.[/li][li]“Influence” and “political figure” are up to you to define[/li][/ul]
Thoughts? The first three that sprung to my mind were Barack Obama, Richard Nixon, and Barry Goldwater, but there must be more. (Looks like 8 presidents total qualify.)

Ronald Reagan
Diane Feinstein
William Mullholland (without him, Los Angeles couldn’t have become the metropolis it is)

Earl Warren was born, raised, and had a full political career in California, before becoming one of the most influential Chief Justices of the United States ever.

Bill Clinton?

Harry Truman had a bit of influence on history.

Let’s not forget Lyndon Johnson.

I’d actually disqualify him because he grew up in Illinois and didn’t head to California until young adulthood. But clearly his political career was spent in the west.

Looking at it by state:

Influential Politicians: Nixon and Reagan. Yeah, Reagan was a adult transplant, but he is pretty solidly Californian with Hollywood & Governor. Their national impact can’t be questioned.
Others: Michael Boskin (econ). Similar to Reagan - he came to Cal as an undergrad, and got his PhD there as well. Then he went to Stanford and Hoover where he was part of the econ team advising Reaganomics among other things. Again - very influential.

AZ: Goldwater certainly

AR: Bill Clinton, no question

LA: Huey Long

WY: Dick Cheney?

OK: Carl Albert (Speaker of the House who helped drive LBJ’s policies)


That leaves Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho and a few others I am forgetting off the top of my head.

I meant to write a longer post earlier. So, Truman was born in southwest Missouri and spent his adult life in the Kansas City area, returning there after his presidential term. As President, he wrapped up WWII, ushering in the age of atomic terror in doing so. His State Department then initiated the Marshall Plan. He went on to be a key early supporter of the founding of Israel, and he set the precedent that the US would sacrifice its young men to stop the spread of Communism in Asia. He also took an early step toward the Civil Rights era by ordering the desegregation of the US military.

I don’t know if he was ultimately more or less influential than some of the other nominees. It’s hard to beat Johnson’s mix of domestic progress and foreign policy calamity. But, for good or ill, Truman had a shit ton of impact on the second half of the 20th century.

I’d say where the political career was spent is more important than the relatively trivial place of birth. Based on that, I’d accept Reagan but reject Obama, who some included above.

Some of the other states,


Henry “Scoop” Jackson
Warren Magnuson
Tom Foley
Dixie Lee Ray ?


Mark Hatfield
Tom McCall
Bob Packwood (well, until the scandal)


Cecil Andrus
Frank Church


Orrin Hatch
Frank Moss

Kansas has Dwight D. Eisenhower, possibly one of the most underrated Presidents of the 20th century. If you disagree, think what your life would be like if you just erased all the interstate highways in the country. He made those happen among many other things.

Minnesota: Hubert H Humphrey

More from California: Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom (for his role in pushing the country toward the legalization of same-sex marriage) and Pierre Salinger.

Harry Reid from Nevada

Many California governors incl. Jerry Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Earl Warren

Gary Hart, Senator from Colorado

Terry Branstad ® (IA)… longest serving governor in US history. We keep voting him into office for some reason.

I would say anyone who’s made it to president qualifies as influential.

IA: Herbert Hoover
MO: Harry Truman
KS: Dwight Eisenhower
TX: Lyndon Johnson
CA: Richard Nixon
AR: Bill Clinton
HI/KS: Barack Obama

I’m torn on Reagan; he was born and raised in the east, but he was California through and through.

Some presidential candidates:

South Dakota has McGovern.

Nebraska has William Jennings Bryan.

Kansas also has Bob Dole. (Arlen Specter has the same hometown as Dole (Russel, KS) but made his name in Pennsylvania.)

Mike Mansfield (Montana senator)

I think in the final analysis of politicians from Texas, Sam Rayburn(D- TX) may outrank LBJ in terms of influence, having been Speaker of the House for 17 years - off and on from 1940 through 1961, during FDR, Truman and Ike’s presidencies.

He’s probably a contender for most influential overall as well, I’d think.

Also Walter Mondale