Skip to Content

John Edwards Fast Facts


CNN Editorial Research

Here is a look at the life of John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina.


Birth date: June 10, 1953

Birth place: Seneca, South Carolina

Birth name: Johnny Reid Edwards

Father: Wallace Edwards, textile mill worker

Mother: Catherine “Bobbie” (Wade) Edwards, postal worker

Marriage: Elizabeth (Anania) Edwards (July 30, 1977-December 7, 2010, her death)

Children: with Rielle Hunter: Frances Quinn Hunter; with Elizabeth Edwards: Jack, Emma Claire, Cate and Wade

Education: North Carolina State University, B.S., 1974 (with honors); University of North Carolina, J.D., 1977 (with honors)

Religion: Methodist

Other Facts

He was the first person in his family to attend college.

Edwards had no previous political experience before winning the 1998 Senate election.

Candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008, and Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004.

As a presidential candidate in the 2008 election, Edwards repeatedly lied about an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, a documentary filmmaker. He admitted the affair on ABC News on August 8, 2008.


1981 – Joins the Wade Smith Law Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.

1993Starts his own law firm with partner David Kirby, concentrating on personal injury law.

1996 – Edwards’ son Wade dies in a car accident.

1998 – Receives 51.2% of the vote to win a seat in the US Senate.

January 3, 1999 Is sworn in as senator.

June 29, 2001 – Edwards and Senator John McCain act as chief sponsors of the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act.

January 2, 2003 – Announces the formation of a presidential campaign exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission.

September 16, 2003 – Formally announces his candidacy for president in the town where he grew up, Robbins, North Carolina.

October 14, 2003 – Announces that he will not vote for the $87 billion Iraq aid package.

January 19, 2004 – Takes second place in the Iowa caucuses with 32% of the vote.

February 3, 2004 – Wins the South Carolina Primary with 45% of the votes, second in Oklahoma and Missouri.

March 3, 2004Announces that he is dropping out of the race.

July 6, 2004 – John Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate, names Edwards as his vice presidential running mate.

August 2004 – Edwards’ book, “Four Trials,” is published.

November 3, 2004 – Kerry calls President George W. Bush to concede the White House race.

January 3, 2005 – Leaves the US Senate when his term expires.

February 2005 – Becomes the director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

December 27, 2006Announces at an event in New Orleans that he is running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

March 22, 2007 – Announces that his wife Elizabeth’s cancer has returned after three years of remission, but he is continuing with his presidential campaign.

January 30, 2008 – Edwards announces that he’s suspending his race for the Democratic nomination. In May, Edwards endorses Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for president.

August 8, 2008 – In an interview with Nightline, Edwards admits to an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, a woman hired to make documentary videos for his campaign. He denies he is the father of her daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, born in February.

February 2009The Justice Department opens an investigation into Edwards’ 2008 campaign finances.

May 2009 – Elizabeth Edwards publishes a memoir, “Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities.” She addresses the affair saying, “I wanted him to drop out of the race, protect our family from this woman, from his act.”

August 6, 2009 – Hunter testifies in front of a grand jury investigating Edwards’ campaign finances.

January 21, 2010 – Admits he fathered Quinn with Hunter and has been providing financial support for the last year.

January 27, 2010Separates from his wife of more than 32 years.

January 30, 2010 – “The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down,” by his former aide, Andrew A. Young, is published. Young claims campaign donation money from socialite Bunny Mellon was used to pay for Hunter’s pregnancy expenses.

December 2010 – A federal investigation into Edwards campaign finances includes grand jury appearances by Mellon’s family. Mellon gave various checks totaling $700,000 to Edwards. The question is whether the money was a gift or campaign contributions.

December 7, 2010 – Elizabeth Edwards dies of cancer.

February 2011 – Mellon testifies on camera in the Edwards investigation.

February 8, 2011 – Edwards gives a deposition in the lawsuit of Hunter against Young. Hunter is suing Young to reclaim materials that she says belong to her, including an alleged sex tape that involves Edwards.

April 29, 2011 – A North Carolina judge rules that Edwards must testify again in the lawsuit of Hunter against Young.

June 3, 2011 – Edwards is indicted on six counts including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws. Edwards pleads not guilty. “There’s no question I’ve done wrong … but I did not break the law.”

July 21, 2011 – The Federal Election Commission rules that Edwards will have to pay back over $2 million in federal matching funds given to his 2008 campaign for president.

February 2012 – The civil lawsuit between Hunter and Young is settled. The settlement mandates the imminent destruction of sex tapes featuring Edwards and Hunter.

April 23, 2012 – Edwards’ trial begins.

May 31, 2012 – On their ninth day of deliberations, the jury reaches a not guilty verdict on one count and deadlocks on the other five counts. Judge Catherine Eagles declares a mistrial.

June 13, 2012 The Justice Department formally dismisses the remaining charges against Edwards.

June 26, 2012 – Hunter’s book “What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me” is published. She also announces that she and Edwards are no longer a couple.

May 17, 2013 – Edwards reactivates his license to practice law.

November 18, 2013 – Edwards announces the formation of Edwards Kirby Attorneys at Law. The North Carolina firm reunites Edwards with Kirby, his former law partner.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


KVIA ABC 7 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content