Tasker Oddie was practicing real estate law in New York when a client sent him to Nevada to resolve legal issues. Oddie adopted the state where he spent the rest of his life engaged in mining, agriculture, and politics. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 24, 1870, he earned a law degree at New York University in 1895. He settled in Nevada three years later.
A mining entrepreneur, Oddie was a principal player during the Tonopah-Goldfield boom of the early twentieth century. He served a term in the Nevada senate (1905-1909) and was elected governor in 1910 after a campaign during which he portrayed himself as sympathetic to the Progressive movement. In keeping with Progressive ideals, Oddie called for changes in the state's divorce law, but was vague on exactly how he would change it.
In 1914, Democrat Emmet Boyle defeated Oddie's gubernatorial reelection bid. Eight years later, Nevadans elected the former governor to the U.S. Senate, where he worked on legislation related to the Boulder Dam project. As a senator, he asked the U.S. Interior Department for an opinion on whether, in view of the recent grant of U.S. citizenship to Native Americans, there was any reason to continue Indian schools such as the one at Stewart, Nevada. Oddie also introduced legislation to name the lake that would be created behind Hoover Dam "Lake Nevada." He objected to federal plans to make Boulder City a federal reservation in which personal behavior was rigidly restricted. Interior Secretary Ray Wilbur argued that the state's permissive laws involving liquor, prostitution, and gambling made the restrictions necessary. Oddie lost the senatorial race against Patrick McCarran in 1932 and again in 1938.
Throughout his political career, Oddie was in debt and dunned by collection agencies, making him politically vulnerable: In March, 1921, Nevada political boss George Wingfield sent the recently elected senator money to pay his bills. In return, Wingfield instructed Oddie to nominate Washoe County Republican Louis Spellier to be U.S. marshal.
Tasker Oddie died in San Francisco on February 17, 1950. He is buried in the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, Nevada.
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