Jewish, yes; serious candidate, maybe not
He focused more on being Senate majority leader than president in '76.
From Ken Rudin's Collection
There are 8,731 miles between New Hampshire and Saigon.
Q: On NPR I heard a discussion pertaining to possible running mates for John Kerry and whether Sen. John McCain could be nominated, though he is a Republican. The reporter said that Abraham Lincoln had done just that in the election of 1864, when he picked Democrat Andrew Johnson, and that Lincoln actually ran not as a Republican but on the ticket of the National Union Party. Is that true? — Landoll Sorrell, Anderson, Ind.
A: The 1864 Republican convention came in the midst of the Civil War, and President Lincoln found himself running for re-election before a deeply divided country. In addition, he had troubles within his own cabinet and party on how to conduct the war. Picking Johnson — the pro-Union Democratic governor of Tennessee — was a brilliant move, perhaps the savviest ticket-balancing act of all time. In the same vein, they used the "National Union Party" label to attract Democrats to the cause, and it worked. But Lincoln's party was always the Republicans, and Lincoln ran as the Republican nominee.
Of course, what's the first thing Republicans focused on following Lincoln's assassination? The impeachment of Andrew Johnson.
Back to the present, whatever differences McCain may have with the president, personal as well as political, the Arizona lawmaker still considers himself a loyal Republican and is not about to join any ticket designed to make Bush a one-termer.
Q: With all the speculation about a John Kerry-John Edwards pairing, was there ever a ticket where the president and vice president had the same first name? — Ralph Santarpia, Ann Arbor, Mich.
A: The last time candidates on a major-party ticket had the same first name was in the 1916 election, when Republicans offered up Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes and former vice president Charles Fairbanks. They lost. The only occasion when a same-name ticket was victorious came in 1824, with John Quincy Adams and John C. Calhoun. Calhoun, a former House member from South Carolina, was secretary of war under President Monroe.
Q: In your Feb. 18 column (see link below), there was a question whether Joe Lieberman or Barry Goldwater was the first true Jewish presidential candidate. What about then-Pennsylvania Gov. Milton Shapp, who sought the Democratic nomination in 1976? — Frank Ferrari, Mesa, Ariz.
A: All I pointed out was that it wasn't Goldwater, the Arizona Republican who was baptized and raised as an Episcopalian, the faith of his mother. Shapp indeed did run in '76, though he didn't get far. The Pennsylvania governor, who headed up what was then the third-largest state in terms of delegates, decided to run as a Washington "outsider" that year.
But there were many roadblocks standing in Shapp's way. One was that another candidate — former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter — was making serious headway as a Washington "outsider." Another was that Shapp was basing his hopes on his state's primary, which wasn't going to be held until late April, and he was gambling that voters would hold off on committing until then. Finally — perhaps most significant — there was the perception that Shapp was, if not personally corrupt, running a corrupt administration. When he announced his presidential candidacy, 23 state officials were already convicted on extortion or bribery charges, and another 29 were under indictment. Not a good resume to run on in the first post-Watergate election.
Until the Pennsylvania primary, Shapp (who by the way was born Milton Shapiro) hoped to get early notice in the March 9 Florida contest by appealing to the state's Jewish Democratic voters. But he finished a poor fifth there, getting little more than two percent of the vote, and withdrew from the race shortly afterwards.
Q: I understand that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) ran (or was available for a draft) for president in 1976. I recently won a "Byrd for President" button on eBay. What can you tell me about his candidacy? — Richard Perry, Martinsburg, W.Va.
A: Byrd, at the time the Senate majority whip, announced as a "favorite son" candidate, declaring that he would only campaign in his home state of West Virginia. There were several other regional candidates for the Democratic nomination that year, and some ran thinking that the convention could be deadlocked and that they would be able to hold some influence as a power broker.
Every other Democrat but George Wallace stayed off the W.Va. ballot in deference to Byrd, and even Wallace didn't campaign in the state. Byrd won by a near 9-1 margin. But he was never a serious candidate for the nomination, and in fact was focusing on a different prize that year, that of majority leader (in the wake of Mike Mansfield's retirement). Byrd actually spent more time campaigning for majority leader than he did seeking re-election to his own Senate seat (He had no opposition from either party in winning his fourth term). And by the time the vote for majority leader was at hand, he had it so wrapped up that his lone rival, Minnesota's Hubert Humphrey, withdrew before the balloting took place.
This Day in Campaign History: Henry Cabot Lodge, the U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, wins the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary on a write-in campaign ... despite never announcing his candidacy and never campaigning in New Hampshire. In fact, he never left Saigon during the entire campaign. And yet he beat out the two frontrunners, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater and New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller (March 10, 1964).