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CHAPTER 20 One Progressive Position Too Many In early 1970, the year I ran for reelection, Washingtonian magazine published a long feature story about me with a provocative but worrisome headline: “Will the Gun Lobby Get Joe Tydings?” The subtitle to that headline was a bit more hopeful: “In This Year of Spiro Agnew, Can a Kennedyite Liberal, Unloved by the Party Pros, Hated by the Gun Lobby, with Only Good Looks, a Famous Name, Guts, and $2,581,520, Win Reelection to the United States Senate and Grow Up to Be Vice President? . . . Why Not?”1 It was a clever title that pretty much said it all. The gun lobby was undoubtedly after me. So were Agnew and the Nixon administration, which didn’t like my stand on Vietnam or my opposition to the two judges it nominated to the Supreme Court. And it was true that the hierarchy in the Maryland Democratic Party had never liked me because I had always operated pretty much as an independent as a state legislator, federal prosecutor, and US senator. Yet, it also was true that I had a famous last name, particularly in Maryland, and that I still carried the aura of the Kennedys, even though both Jack and Bobby were gone by then. I had a substantial campaign war chest, had built a reputation for “never ducking the tough ones,” and my name had been mentioned as a potential candidate for vice president one day.2 The Republican candidate I feared the most, Representative Rogers 1. Ernest B. Ferguson, “Will the Gun Lobby Get Joe Tydings?,” Washingtonian Magazine, February 1970. 2. Tydings’s 1970 campaign slogan was “Joe Never Ducks the Tough Ones.” It was later referenced in many news stories, e.g., in John W. Finney, “Administration Aiming Its Big Guns at Tydings,” New York Times, October 23, 1970, archives/administration-aiming-its-big-guns-at-tydings.html; and “Is 1970 AnotherTydings to BeallYear?,” Hagerstown Morning Herald, October 30, 1970, 2. 305 ONE PROGRESSIVE POSTION TOO MANY Morton from the Eastern Shore, had announced that he was not going to challenge me, so I was fairly confident I would win reelection. I had compiled a strong record—particularly strong for a freshman senator. And early that year, it was not even clear who was going to oppose me. Campaigning I beat the bushes hard. I set up a huge number of interviews with newspapers, television and radio stations, editorial boards, and magazine writers—everything from the New Yorker to the Diamondback, the student newspaper at the University of Maryland. UPI reporters asked me about population issues; a Maryland radio reporter interviewed me about Vietnam; a writer for the New Republic asked about the gun lobby. I hit the Baltimore- and Washington-area markets hardest but also took a statewide tour that allowed me to visit with local officials and news organizations in the smaller towns on the Eastern Shore and in southern and western Maryland. I spent a lot of my time mending fences with local Democrats who disagreed with me on Vietnam, or gun control, or civil rights, or some other issue. I carved out time to attend and be seen at special events—the University of Maryland homecoming football game, the Baltimore Orioles’ appearance in the World Series that fall, the White House Correspondents ’ Association dinner at the Sheraton Park Hotel, and the Goshen Hunt point-to-point race in Montgomery County. I emphasized conservation issues on a fifty-mile hike with Goodloe Byron, a Democrat then running for the congressional seat representing western Maryland.3 We began a new series of Teas for Tydings, the receptions that had been so helpful during my 1964 campaign. I held private meetings with my longtime supporters, Frank Gallagher, Irv Blum, Dick Schifter, and others to make sure we were hitting our fundraising targets.4 And I made a number of appearances before chapters of the Young Democrats , trying to enlist their young members in my cause. At a meeting at 3. Byron would be elected and serve in the House of Representatives until his death from a heart attack while jogging on the C&O Canal tow path in October 1978. He was succeeded by his widow, Beverly Byron. 4. Irv Blum was a business and civic leader in Baltimore, brother-in-law to Jerry Hoffberger , and one of my closest political advisers and fundraisers. 306 CHAPTER 20 Oakington, I helped organize a group...


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