Robert Smylie, 89, the only man elected to three consecutive terms as governor of Idaho, died Saturday at his home in Boise. He had recently struggled with pneumonia and suffered several illnesses, including emphysema, cancer and congestive heart failure, said his son, state Rep. Steve Smylie.
It was Robert Smylie's decision to embrace the imposition of a sales tax in 1965 that enabled supporters to round up the votes needed for passage. In his autobiography, Mr. Smylie wrote that his support for the 3-cent tax was probably a major factor in his defeat in the Republican primary a year later by then-state Sen. Don Samuelson.
Mr. Smylie's administration saw an increase in the minimum wage and institution of the five-day workweek for state employees.
He helped moderate Republicans nationally regroup after the defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. Before his failed re-election bid in 1966, Mr. Smylie had been mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee in 1968 -- a selection that went to then-Maryland Gov. Spiro T. Agnew.