Wendell R. Anderson Biography

Wendell Richard Anderson was born in St. Paul on February 1, 1933 and graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1960. Prior to receiving his law degree, he was an Army infantry officer and played on the U.S. Amateur Hockey Team (1955, 1957) and the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team (1956).

In 1958, while still in law school, Anderson, a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member, was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 1960 and then went on to two terms in the Minnesota Senate, in 1962 and 1966. Anderson was selected as an outstanding Minnesota legislator by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. He served as chairman of the 1968 Humphrey for President campaign in Minnesota.

Anderson was elected governor of Minnesota in 1970, focusing his campaign on the need to reduce the burden of high property taxes and to provide local communities—primarily schools—with major non-property revenues from the state. The resulting fiscal reform laws, passed in 1971, came to be known as the “Minnesota Miracle.”

Governor Anderson chaired the Democratic Governor’s Conference (1974–1975) and was a member of the Democratic National Committee during the same period. He was re-elected governor in 1974, but resigned in December 1976 to accept appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Walter F. Mondale after his election as vice-president. Anderson lost this Senate seat to Independent-Republican Rudy Boschwitz in the 1978 general election, due in part to backlash against the circumstances of his original appointment.

Following his Senate service, Anderson remained active in the DFL Party and served for a number of years on the University of Minnesota board of regents.

He died in 2016 in St. Paul.