Robert Edgar; lawmaker led Common Cause; at 69

BURKE, Va. — Robert W. Edgar, who represented Pennsylvania for six terms in the House of Representatives and went on to lead the public interest group Common Cause, died Tuesday. He was 69.

Mr. Edgar collapsed Tuesday morning in the basement of his home in Burke after a run on the treadmill, said his wife of 48 years, Merle Edgar.

A liberal Democrat, Mr. ­Edgar was elected in 1974 in a large class of newcomers who came to Washington following the Watergate scandal. His ­political career ended after he lost a US Senate campaign in 1986 to Arlen Specter.


Mr. Edgar had maintained an active travel schedule with Common Cause until his death, advocating for open government. He was the group’s president and chief executive from 2007 until his death.

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An ordained United Methodist minister, Mr. Edgar was president of Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, ­Calif., from 1990 to 2000 and was general secretary of the ­National Council of Churches from 2000 to 2007.

His wife said that his career after politics was a natural extension of his work as an elected official; he gravitated to jobs in public service.

‘‘He was always trying to make the world a better place for all human beings,’’ she said.

Common Cause board chairman Robert Reich said in a statement: ‘‘Bob will be remembered for his decency, kindness, compassion and humor. His deep commitment to social ­justice and strengthening our democracy is his greatest gift to Common Cause and the ­nation.’’


Mr. Edgar represented Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District outside Philadelphia, a seat held mostly by ­Republicans since before the Civil War.