November 30, 1967 – Gene McCarthy in the race

by carl on November 30, 2012

Eugene McCarthy announces his candidacy for President

 By Carl Stieren

Gene McCarthy, a Democratic senator from Minnesota and former college professor, was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for President in the upcoming 1968 elections. Running against a sitting President was a daring move, but the pressure to end the War in Vietnam convinced McCarthy to run. His youth organizer, Sam Brown, announced a “Clean for Gene” policy that required male volunteers to wear sport jackets or suits and definitely not hippie garb. In the New Hampshire primary election, McCarthy got 42 per cent of the vote against 49 per cent for President Lyndon Johnson.

By the time the primary elections were over, Robert Kennedy had been assassinated in California, and the political landscape had changed. McCarthy eventually won more state primaries than any other candidate and had the highest percentage of the popular vote in the primaries (38.7 per cent). However, McCarthy’s image as an academic, although a convincing one, and lack of charisma cost him in the end. The nomination went to his fellow senator from Minnesota, Hubert Humphrey, who did not run in the primaries but relied on his connections with big-city mayors such as Richard J. Daley of Chicago and the labor unions to win the nomination at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968.

Humphrey’s victory was a Pyrrhic one: even his victory speech was interrupted by clips of police beating demonstrators outside the convention. Groups such as the Yippies – who nominated Pigasus the Pig for President – inflamed Daley and the police, which apparently was the Yippie goal. The Walker Commission called the fracas a “police riot” although police had been pelted with ashtrays and feces from hotel windows before they charged the crowd. Even mailmen delivering U.S. Mail on their rounds were arrested because they had no credentials to enter the zone in Chicago where demonstrations were taking place.

In the 1968 election, the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon, was the victor with 43.4 per cent of the popular vote but carried 32 states with 301 votes in the electoral college. Hubert Humphrey won 42.7 per cent of the popular vote and 191 electoral college votes from 13 states plus DC. George Wallace, former governor of Alabama, won 13.35 per cent of the popular vote for the American Independent Party and carried 5 states, winning 46 votes in the electoral college.

 

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