When I was a kid, there was a guy named Harold Stassen who ran in the Republican presidential primaries every four years. Although his candidacy had become a joke, it was always noted, and he always seemed to attract some votes, sort of like Kucinich this year. In 1964, I think he won a substantial number of votes in a midwest primary (Illinois or Indiana, if memory serves) in which he was the moderate alternative to Barry Goldwater.
At some point, I learned that Stassen had been a serious guy. Indeed, as this biographical sketch shows, he was elected governor of Minnesota at the age of 31, resigned in the middle of his third term to serve in key positions in the Navy during World War II, was a founding delegate to the United Nations and president of the University of Pennsylvania, and held an important post in the Eisenhower administration.
But his defining moment occurred in 1948, when he was the front-runner for the Republican nomination until faltering in one of the key primaries of that day (I think it was a western state, Oregon perhaps). Having come so close, he apparently could never get running for president out of system. His ninth and last “race” was in 1992.
Which brings us to Howard Dean, who clearly is “toast” this year. It would be rash to predict that he will become another Stassen. But considering the extent to which he became intoxicated during this race, and the sudden heartbreak he experienced, I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs again. Several times.
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