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Oral History Project

Roy L. Elson Administrative Assistant to Senator Carl T. Hayden; Candidate for the U.S. Senate (1955–1969)

Photo of Roy Elson

In 1952, when Senator Carl Hayden was 75, he hired 22-year-old Roy L. Elson as an assistant secretary on his Washington office staff. By age 27, Elson had become Hayden's administrative assistant. The aging senator found that the youthful staff member "thought his thoughts." Elson became the senator's surrogate in countless meetings involving the Central Arizona Project and other legislative issues. In 1962 he planned the senator's last campaign for reelection. As Hayden neared retirement, Elson himself ran as the Democratic candidate for the Senate from Arizona, in 1964 against Paul Fannin, and in 1968 against Barry Goldwater. He was one of the first Senate staff members to become a candidate. As Carl Hayden wrote in endorsement of Roy Elson's Senate candidacy, "Roy knows the Congress." In these interviews he shares that knowledge and experience, recalls his personal career, reflects on the senators and staff with whom he served, and offers a candid view of the legislative and appropriations processes. Roy L. Elson died in Sonoita, Arizona, on February 25, 2010.


Scholarly citation: "Roy L. Elson: Administrative Assistant to Senator Carl Hayden and Candidate for the United States Senate, 1955–1969,” Oral History Interviews, April 27 to August 21, 1990, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.