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Victor F. Snyder (1947–)

Victor Frederick Snyder served seven terms in the U.S. Congress representing Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. Snyder’s experiences in the U.S. Marine Corps, as a family physician, and as a lawyer have helped shape his career in government service.

Vic Snyder was born on September 27, 1947, in Medford, Oregon, to Don Snyder, a bartender, and Marjorie Snyder, a bookkeeper. He has one younger sister. In 1965, Snyder graduated from Medford High School and enrolled in Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Two years later, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1967 to 1969, including one year in Vietnam. Returning to school, Snyder graduated from Willamette in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then went on to earn an MD from the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center in Portland, Oregon, in 1979.

Following graduation, Snyder became a family practice resident at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County). After completing his residency in 1982, Snyder remained in central Arkansas, working as a family practice physician. In 1985, he enrolled in the University of Arkansas Law School in Little Rock (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law), receiving a law degree in 1988. He ran for the state Senate as a Democrat in 1990 and won, representing the Twenty-third District (part of Pulaski County) in the Seventy-eighth Arkansas General Assembly and, after redistricting, the Sixteenth District (still part of Pulaski County) in the Seventy-ninth and Eightieth Arkansas General Assemblies. During his three terms in the state Senate, Snyder was known for his support of conservation issues, his efforts to overturn anti-gay laws in Arkansas, and his challenge to the power of the Arkansas Highway Commission.

Snyder first ran for U.S. Congress in 1996. Defeating Republican Bud Cummins by roughly 10,000 votes (out of nearly 220,000 votes cast in the Second District), he joined Marion Berry and Asa Hutchinson as freshmen in Congress, along with Jay Dickey, the only returning congressman from Arkansas in the 105th Congress. Reelected six times, Snyder was in Congress for the second term of President Bill Clinton, both terms of President George W. Bush, and the first half of President Barack Obama’s first term.

In Congress, Snyder has served on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the House Armed Services Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee. In 2007, he was elected chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Snyder was the only member of the Arkansas delegation in the House to vote against the 2003 resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. In 2009, he was also the lone Arkansas congressional delegate to vote in support of climate-change legislation. He defended his willingness to support healthcare legislation in the 111th Congress in various “town hall meetings” in his district in 2009.

Snyder married Elizabeth (Betsy) Singleton in July 2003; she was then pastor of the Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church in Little Rock. They have four sons. In January 2010, Snyder announced that he would not be seeking an eighth term in Congress, saying that “election year forces are no match for the persuasive and powerful attraction of our three one-year-old boys under the leadership of their three-year-old brother” and promising that “it is clear from observing how much our four little boys eat that I will be working for a long, long time.” On January 24, 2011, Snyder announced that he was joining the staff of insurance company Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield as senior vice president and chief medical officer.

For additional information:
Daniels, Alex. “Snyder Cites Family, Won’t Seek an 8th Term.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. January 16, 2010, pp. 1A, 5A.

Nelson, Rex. “Snyder Settles in as a Rebel in Senate Without a Cause.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. April 6, 1993, p. 4B

Rowett, Michael. “Snyder, Thomas Race Takes Familiar Shape.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. October 22, 2000, pp. 1A, 12A.

“Victor F. Snyder.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000672/ (accessed January 26, 2010).

Steven Teske
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 8/21/2015

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