Today's Post:

Dark horse candidates a part of history

Could we see a dark-horse candidate this year?
Could we see a dark-horse candidate this year?
What if a major political party held a convention and nobody came?

    Republicans aren’t quite at that point yet. But a number of prominent players will be absent when the Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland on July 18. The presumptive Republican nominee, businessman Donald Trump, upended the presidential bid of Jeb Bush, once regarded as the front-runner. So it came as no surprise when the former Florida governor took a pass on the convention.  
    But not everyone has that excuse. When asked about attending their party's signature event, an obligation that rolls around just once every four years, some politicos sounded like high school cheerleaders ducking the advances of the school mathletes.
    "Sorry, but I'm doing my hair."
    "My cat is having her manicure."
    "Oh snap! I have to buy new strings for my ukulele."
    On July 20, as the convention is building to its climax, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, will be tucking into a plate of seafood at the annual crab and clam bake in Crisfield, Maryland, reports The Frederick, Maryland, News Post. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a former presidential candidate, says he can watch the convention on TV, according to The New York Times. And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also a former presidential candidate, will meet with voters as he campaigns to retain his Senate seat in the Sunshine State, his spokesman told the Tampa Bay Times.
     Given the uneasiness (or maybe the panic) over the presumptive nominee, this convention could see a stop-Trump movement. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP candidate, recently noted that his children would like to see him jump into the presidential race. It wouldn’t be the first time attempts were made to unseat the front-runner and install a dark horse candidate:

1844: During the Democratic convention, former President Martin Van Buren, the front-runner, did not get the needed two-thirds vote on the first ballot. As balloting continued, other candidates (including Sen. James Buchanan of Pennsylvania), whittled away at Van Buren’s lead. On the eighth ballot, James K. Polk, former governor of Tennessee, received a vote. On the ninth ballot, the convention got behind him. “Polk was the first dark-horse candidate to be nominated for president by a major party,” according to William A. DeGregorio and Sandra Lee Stuart in The Complete Book of Presidents, (Barricade Books; 2013).

 1852: Four major candidates vied for the Democratic nomination, and none  was named Franklin Pierce.  With the party unable to agree, Pierce was nominated as a compromise choice on the 35tth ballot. He was chosen as the candidate on the 49th ballot, according to DeGregorio.

1876: During the Republican convention, the front-runner was Sen. James Blaine of Maine. Blaine's problem was that he had not sufficiently confronted charges that he had used his office for personal gain, according to Encyclopedia Britannica online. A stop-Blaine movement gave the momentum to another candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, who fought for the Union during the Civil War and went on to become Ohio's governor. Hayes became the Republican nominee and was eventually elected president.

1932: There was a movement by the 1928 nominee, Alfred E. Smith of New York, to stop Franklin Roosevelt from winning the Democratic nomination as the party convened in Chicago. Roosevelt's clever campaign managers finagled delegate seating “to isolate pockets of opposition in a sea of Roosevelt supporters and strategically located the convention floor microphones so that the roar of the crowd always favored Roosevelt,” according to the Chicago Historical Society.

1964: The Republicans nominated Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona. His primary opponent had been New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, whose candidacy was hurt by divorce and remarriage, recounts an article on the PBS website. A stop-Goldwater movement formed around another governor, William Scranton of Pennsylvania. But Goldwater was nominated on the first ballot.

1976: President Gerald R. Ford, the incumbent, faced a challenge from Ronald Reagan, former governor of California. Reagan even announced his pick for vice president, Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania. Ford still won the nomination on the first ballot.

1980: President Jimmy Carter was challenged by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who wanted the Democratic convention to change its pledged delegates system, recounts the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. The senator was unsuccessful. Carter was renominated, but lost the election to Reagan. 


    Research: Divided political parties lose

    Why was inauguration day changed?     

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