The name of one-time “boy wonder” and former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen must have been placed in nomination for president at national political conventions more times than that of any other member of a major party. Norman Thomas doesn’t count. Deacon wrote briefly about Stassen in posing the question recently whether Howard Dean might become “The new Harold Stassen?”
Deacon observed that Stassen’s 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 (Deacon correctly recalled that it was the Oregon primary). Having come so close, he apparently could never get running for president out of system. His ninth and last “race” was in 1992.
Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge G. Barry Anderson knows more about about Minnesota politics than anyone else we know. Judge Anderson wrote to comment briefly on Deacon’s post:
Deacon’s post on Stassen was interesting but not complete. Stassen entered the Oregon primary in good position. But at the key Oregon debate, according to folks who were there, he was ill with the flu and 102 degree temperature and the results were disastrous to his campaign. As a consequence, the GOP nominated an awful candidate in Thomas Dewey and Truman went on to victory.
It is impossible to overstate Stassen’s influence on politics and government in Minnesota. Among other accomplishments, the civil service reforms he instituted “cleaned up” government and the framework he created survives to today. Regardless of personal ideological preferences, there were two Minnesota political giants — Hubert Humphrey and Harold Stassen — and then everybody else.
DEACON is grateful: to Judge Anderson for adding this information. I had hoped to learn more about Stassen when I took the liberty of discussing him on a site with a large Minnesota readership. For some reason, I find it really neat to discover “the rest of the story” about the people who occupied the stage, even in bit roles, when I was a kid. It’s like unfreezing them from the moment in time when I randomly happened to first encounter them. Stassen has a better story than just about any of them.