Bill Clinton loses an Arkansas congressional race

After graduating from Yale Law School, Clinton returned to Arkansas and became a professor at the University of Arkansas.

A year later, he ran for the House of Representatives in 1974. The incumbent, John Paul Hammerschmidt, defeated Clinton by a 52% to 48% margin.

Clinton ran for office for the first time in 1974, shortly after graduating from law school. It was for an Arkansas congressional seat held by a popular incumbent Republican and Clinton lost, but only by 4 points.

His closest campaign was in the 1974 election, when he defeated Bill Clinton (then a University of Arkansas law professor) by only a few thousand votes. Clinton had harshly criticized Hammerschmidt for being one of the few Republicans to stand by Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal. This election was one of only two in which opponents receive more than one-third of the vote against Hammerschmidt (the other being James McDougal in 1982).