Nick Galifianakis (born July 22, 1928) was a Democratic U.S. Congressman from North Carolina between 1967 and 1973.
Life and career
Galifianakis was born in Durham, North Carolina, the son of Greek immigrants Sophia (née Kastrinakis) and Mike Galifianakis. Galifianakis attended local public schools and then Duke University, earning a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a law degree in 1953. After serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from October 1953 to April 1956, he was admitted to the bar and practiced law in Durham. In 1960, he became an assistant professor of business law at Duke and was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1961. Galifianakis left both positions when elected to the United States Congress in 1966. For his first term, he represented the 5th District, which stretched from his home in Durham through Winston-Salem all the way to Stokes County on the other side of the state. However, after the state was forced to conduct a mid-decade redistricting for the 1968 elections, he was placed in the 4th District, a much more compact district stretching from Durham through Chatham County to Raleigh.
Galifianakis sought the Democratic Party nomination for the seat held by Senator B. Everett Jordan in the 1972 election, and defeated him in the primary. While Galifianakis led his Republican challenger, former television commentator Jesse Helms, by a substantial margin for most of the campaign, Helms closed the gap by tying Galifianakis to his party's presidential nominee, George McGovern, and with the late-campaign slogan, "Jesse Helms: He's One of Us," a reference to the Greek heritage of his opponent. Galifianakis knew that McGovern wasn't popular in his state and tried to distance himself from him. He also wasn't helped by several conservative Democrats defecting to Helms.
Ultimately, Helms pulled away and defeated Galifianakis by nine points. Galifianakis, like most Southern Democrats, was significantly hurt by Richard Nixon's gigantic landslide in the presidential election. Nixon carried North Carolina by 40 points and won all but two counties in the state.
After leaving Congress, he resumed his law practice, which continues to this day, and currently lives in Durham.
Since 1997, a nephew of his, also named Nick Galifianakis, has been drawing the satirical cartoons that accompany the advice column "Tell Me About It" in the Washington Post tri-weekly. The column is written by the younger Nick's ex-wife, Carolyn Hax.
He is also the uncle of comedian Zach Galifianakis, who is his brother's son.
^ Hunter, Marjorie (28 October 1972). "Major Races in North Carolina Seem Close". The New York Times. p. 14.
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