The Decline and Fall of Progressive Republicans

The Republican Party has now become a right to ultra right entity. This has happened in stages.  Let me concentrate on the Senate but begin with the 1969 election for Mayor of New York City.  What happens first in the Big Apple eventually spreads to the entire country.

1969-John Lindsay, running for a second term, lost the Republican Primary to State Senator John Marchi.  Nothing against Staten Island; but a Mayor from that borough is like having NATO headquartered in Spain.   Lindsay retained the support of the Liberal Party.  He won a second term with 42% of the vote against Marchi and the Democrat, Mario Procaccino.  Politicians get very greedy and self centered and forget the cause is more important they are.  Both major parties should have worked out a deal with one withdrawal.  I am glad they did not.  John Lindsay was one of my favorite public figures.  The Right Wing shot itself in the foot.

1970-After the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Governor Rockefeller appointed  Congressman Charles Goodell to fill the remainder of the term, or 1970.  Rockefeller was a clever politician. Goodell should have run in November of 1968 to fill out the unexpired part of the term.  Somehow Republicans worked around this issue.   Almost immediately,  Charles Goodell followed a liberal line on domestic issues and a strong dovish position on the Vietnam War.  As might be expected, this angered both President Nixon and Governor Rockefeller.  Goodell was his own man and did not defer to his party in place of his own beliefs.  The Democrats nominated Richard Ottinger from upstate and he also was generally a Liberal.  The Conservatives were understandably dissatisfied with both men.  James Buckley got their nod to run as a Third Party Conservative.  At that time, the Republican Party was simply too Far Left to suit them.

President Nixon and his men began an all out campaign on Charles Goodell attacking him as a Radical Liberal.  Both Rockefeller and Nixon supported Buckley.   Buckley indicated during the campaign that he expected to follow the Nixon Administration most of time.  The Democrats, with Ottinger in the lead, should have withdrawn from the race and supported Goodell.  James Buckley won in November with 39% of the  vote.  Greed runs rampantly in each party.

1972-Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, in her bid for a fifth term, lost to William Hathaway.   Smith, the First Lady of the Senate, came up short more from her age rather than any ill feelings.  She had a unique ability to see both sides of an issue.   John Sherman Cooper,  the Global Kentuckian, retired.

1978-Clifford Case, from New Jersey, lost the Republican Primary, to Right Winger Jeffery Bell.   Case was running for his fifth term.  Bill Bradley defeated Bell in November.  In Massachusetts,  Edward Brooke lost to Paul Tsongas. Brooke was trying for his third term.

1980-Jacob Javits lost the Republican Primary  to Alfonse D’Amato.   The Liberal Party did endorse Javits in his bid for a fifth term.  Javits pulled enough votes from Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman to hand the victory to D’Amato.  Javits  tarnished his legacy.  It looks like the Liberals in New York State did not learn much from the experience in 1970.

1984-Two Republicans, both seeking their fourth term, left the Senate.  In  Illinois, Paul Simon defeated Charles Percy.  Percy was the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which sometimes is a hindrance. Howard Baker from Tennessee retired and became the Chief of Staff for Reagen.

1988-This one in Connecticut really hurt.  Joe Lieberman defeated Lowell Weicker. Weicker was up for his fourth term.  Weicker became the Governor of Connecticut running as an independent  in 1990.

1992-After two terms,  Warren Rudman of New Hampshire retired, tired of the brazen partisanship.  Rudman became of nationally known name in his second term.  He was involved in the investigation of both the Iran Contra Affair and the Keating Five; the nomination of his friend David Souder to the Supreme Court; and the sponsorship of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction effort.

1996-Tough year for Moderate Republicans.  Leaving the Senate were Mark Hatfield of Oregon, William Cohen from Maine; Nancy Kassebaum from Kansas; and Alan Simpson from Wyoming.  In a quick turn around,  Bill Clinton nominated and the Senate confirmed  Cohen as Secretary of Defense.

2001-Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont won his bid for a third term in 2000.  Within a few weeks,  Jeffords left the Republican Party and became an Independent.  Jeffords stated he would caucus with the Democrats.  Prior to this move the Senate was even with each party at 50; now the Democrats had a slim majority.

2006-Lincoln Chaffee from Rhode Island paid a price just for being a Republican.   Sheldon Whitehouse defeated him in a reaction to the Bush Administration.  This was very unfair.  Chafee had done more to oppose George Bush than most Democrats.

2012-Rather than seek a fourth term, Olympia Snowe from Maine retired.  She was of the one most respected and influential women in the country.

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