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257 Chapter 14 When Tom Blew the Whistle, 1960-62 An Untimely Death In 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower’s second term was ending and the nation was about to elect a new president. Would Vice President Richard M. Nixon, a Californian, become president? Would Democrats choose a new face after nominating Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956? A handful of Democrats jockeyed for position as seven state primaries got underway. With a May election at the end of the scheduled primaries, Oregon would be in the national political spotlight—if only briefly. Two days before Oregon’s March 11 filing deadline, tragedy struck. Richard Neuberger, Oregon’s junior United States senator, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Portland. Diagnosed with testicular cancer in summer 1957, Neuberger had undergone an operation and lengthy cancer treatment. While his health steadily deteriorated, he had continued to meet his rigorous Senate schedule. In spite of his continuing feud with Sen. Wayne Morse, Neuberger was optimistic and looking forward to running for reelection in 1960. With his popularity at an all-time high, it had seemed a certainty. Working through their shock, Democratic Party leaders scrambled to find a last-minute replacement for Senator Neuberger. Democratic officials convinced Maurine Neuberger, Dick’s widow, to run in her husband’s place. Though Representatives Edith Green and Charles Porter rushed home to Oregon to test their own possible Senate candidacies, both quickly stepped aside when Mrs. Neuberger said she would run for her husband’s seat. Senator Neuberger’s funeral, conducted at Portland’s Temple Beth Israel, was somber and sad. “Neuberger’s friends arose to speak a last farewell. Those who followed the rabbi included Governor Hatfield, Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson, former Gov. Robert Holmes, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and others.”1 Conspicuously absent was Senator Wayne Morse. 258 chapter 14 Maurine Brown Neuberger, a former state representative from Portland, and her husband’s closest political confidante, was a household name in Oregon. With a sympathy factor also working in her favor, she was a formidable candidate. Meanwhile, as candidates and their parties campaigned for the May primary, Republican Gov. Mark Hatfield appointed Democrat Hall M. Lusk, an Oregon Supreme Court Justice, to complete Richard Neuberger’s term until voters elected a new senator in November. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Oregon’s May election attracted national attention because of the uniqueness of the state’s open presidential primary law. According to Oregon statute, the secretary of state could place the names of any potential Republican and Democratic presidential nominee on Oregon’s primary election ballot. This meant that a potential candidate (who might even protest his or her inclusion on Oregon’s ballot) could sit back, and with little effort or money spent, find out if he or she could generate enough grassroots support to become a viable presidential candidate. Only Vice President Nixon was listed on the GOP primary ballot. The Democratic primary was quite a different story, with five prominent candidates : Senators Lyndon Johnson (Texas), Stuart Symington (Missouri), Hubert Humphrey (Minnesota), John Kennedy (Massachusetts), and Wayne Morse of Oregon,whosenameappearedontheballotasafavorite-soncandidate.* Sixstate primaries had taken place prior to Oregon’s May election and John Fitzgerald Kennedy had won all six. As the Democratic campaign swung into Oregon, Kennedy had the most and the least to lose of the Democratic candidates. If Kennedy lost in Oregon, he would go to the Democratic National Convention as a recent loser. If he won Oregon, Kennedy would go to the convention as the favorite to win the nomination for president. But John Kennedy was Catholic and the only other Catholic presidential nominee was New York Governor Alfred Smith in 1928. Smith was crushed by Republican Herbert Hoover. A generation later, the Democratic Party faced the question of whether JFK was electable. Would the “Catholic issue” doom his chances? Oregon has always * A favorite-son candidate is typically a prominent state politician whose name is placed on a state ballot or in nomination at the national convention as a courtesy. When Oregon’s secretary of state added Senator Wayne Morse’s name to the list of Democratic candidates for president in May 1960 it was an acknowledgement of Morse as a Democrat of national stature. When a state delegation casts all or part of their votes for their favorite son they are turning the political spotlight both on their state and on the candidate. When Tom Blew the Whistle, 1960-62 259 been a Protestant state...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780870716584
Print ISBN
9780870716577
MARC Record
OCLC
821734340
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-21
Language
English
Open Access
N
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