5-term Arizona congressman Sam Steiger dies at 83

PRESCOTT, AZ - Sam Steiger, who served five terms as an Arizona congressman in the 1960s and 1970s, has died. He was 83.

A Yavapai County official and friends said Steiger died Wednesday in the northern Arizona town of Prescott, where he once served as a mayor.

The cause of death wasn't immediately available Friday.

Steiger had been absent from the political scene since suffering a stroke in September 2002.

He served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, two terms in the Arizona Senate in the early 1960s and one term as Prescott's mayor.

Steiger twice launched unsuccessful bids for governor of Arizona and also served on the staff of embattled Gov. Evan Mecham in the 1980s.

"It's a great loss for the state," said Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer, adding that she knew Steiger for more than 30 years. "He was one of the most colorful personalities we've had in Arizona. He'll be greatly missed."

Steiger, a Republican, decided to run for a vacant U.S. Senate seat in 1976. He lost in the general election to Democrat and then Pima County prosecutor Dennis DeConcini, who won his first of three six-year Senate terms.

Born and raised in New York City, Steiger moved to Prescott in 1954 after serving a stint in the Army during the Korean War. He bought a ranch north of Prescott and was involved in ranching for years afterward.

Steiger ended his political career as the leader of the hometown he had adopted years before. In 1999, Prescott voters elected him as mayor. He served a two-year term and chose not to run for re-election in 2001.

He hosted a talk show on Prescott television for years and also wrote a column for the Daily Courier periodically since the 1980s.

Throughout his political career, Steiger's outspokenness was his trademark.

"I pride myself on being absolutely candid," Steiger once told the Courier.

Funeral services and a list of Steiger's survivors wasn't immediately available Friday.

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