Former U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins dead at 82

Dec. 4, 2009 at 6:24 PM
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WINTER PARK, Fla., Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins, the first woman elected to statewide office in Florida, has died at the age of 82.

Hawkins died Thursday night in Winter Park, the Orlando Sentinel reported. She had been in poor health in recent months, Wikipedia said.

Calling herself a "Maitland housewife," Hawkins entered politics as a consumer advocate. She was elected to the Public Services Commission in 1972.

Hawkins lost more elections than she won. She first sought a Senate seat in 1976, losing the Republican primary to Jack Eckerd, and was defeated again in 1978 when she ran for lieutenant governor while Eckerd was running for governor.

Two years later, Hawkins was elected to the Senate. She was defeated in 1986 by former Gov. Bob Graham when she sought a second term.

Hawkins was the first woman senator to bring her husband to Washington with her. As a result, the Senate wives' club went through a name change to the Senate spouses' club.

While she was in the Senate, Hawkins acknowledged she had been sexually molested as a child. Her book, "Children at Risk, My Fight Against Child Abuse: A Personal Story and a Public Plea," was published in 1986.

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