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    Junkie Mail: Your Feedback

    By Ken Rudin
    Special to
    Friday, April 16, 1999

    This week we look at some of your comments, corrections and elaborations on recent columns:

    Comment: Regarding your March 12 column about presidents' sons who have tried to follow in their fathers' footsteps, there were some you didn't mention.

    Charles Francis Adams, the son of one president and the grandson of another, was considered a likely candidate in 1872 by many Liberal Republicans seeking to challenge their party's incumbent, Ulysses S. Grant. Adams wanted the nomination, but was much less willing to fight for it. Instead of taking part in the Liberal Republican Convention in Cincinnati, he sailed to Europe. Upon reaching London, he learned that the more aggressive Horace Greeley had been nominated instead.

    Then there was Jesse Root Grant, who abandoned his father's party to become a Democrat. In 1908, following a national speaking tour, he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He lost to William Jennings Bryan, who would be defeated by William Howard Taft in the general election. Jesse Root Grant's greatest legacy, as it turns out, was helping to transform present-day Tijuana, Mexico, into a popular tourist site. – Bob Cullen, Baltimore, Md.

    The first woman candidate to receive an electoral vote was Tonie Nathan, the Libertarian vice presidential nominee in 1972. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    Comment: In your Jan. 22 answer about women running for the presidency, you left out one interesting piece of trivia. The first woman to receive a vote in the Electoral College was Tonie Nathan, the Libertarian Party's vice presidential nominee in 1972. Roger MacBride, a Republican elector from Virginia, decided he couldn't vote for Richard Nixon that year and cast his vote instead for the Libertarian ticket of John Hospers and Tonie Nathan. MacBride himself later ran for president as the Libertarian nominee in 1976, but did not receive any electoral votes. – Robert Booth, Bellingham, Wash.

    Question: In your March 4 column about the lack of incumbent mayors who successfully moved up to statewide offices, you forgot about Dirk Kempthorne, who was the mayor of Boise, Idaho, when he was elected to the Senate in 1992. – Mike Coumbe, Anchorage, Alaska

    Answer: Good catch! In addition, Kempthorne was elected governor in 1998, only the third sitting senator to go on and win a governorship in the past half century. The previous two: Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) in 1990 and Price Daniel (D-Tex.) in 1956.

    Question: Where did you get the term "jungle primary" [in referring to the upcoming Louisiana congressional election in the April 9 column]? I have been involved with Louisiana politics for most of my life and have run several campaigns here, and I have never heard the term. Frankly, it sounds like a made-up Washington term. It is offensive and unnecessary, it should be removed and I would like you to post an apology on your web page! – Ron Simpson, La.

    Answer: Of all your objections, I'm most fascinated by the fact that you find it "offensive." What exactly do you find offensive? The term refers to the voting systems in which all candidates run on one ballot, regardless of party. Such "jungle primaries" are conducted in Louisiana, Washington and California. I have never seen anyone take offense to it. If it is a "made-up term," there are a lot of folks who could take credit for its creation. Such as:

  • The Grolier on-line encyclopedia of the American Presidency, in its section about primaries, mentions that Washington "has gone a step further with its unique 'jungle' primary, in which the voter, regardless of party affiliation, is permitted to go back and forth between the major party columns to select one nominee for each office."

  • On May 22, 1991, New Orleans Times-Picayune political writer Jack Wardlaw, in writing about that year's gubernatorial race, referred to Louisiana's "jungle" primary system.

  • An August 1996 blurb by Congressional Quarterly mentioned that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against "Louisiana's unique 'jungle' primary system."

  • In his Dec. 20, 1996, column, campaign finance expert Dwight Morris wrote about the general election in Louisiana, "where candidates from all parties contest a single 'jungle' primary."

  • Washington Post columnist George Will, writing about California gubernatorial hopeful Al Checchi on Oct. 19, 1997, noted that the Democrat "will have to prevail in California's new 'jungle primary,' in which all candidates for both parties appear on a single ballot."

  • September 1998 press releases by then-National Republican Congressional Committee chairman John Linder and the League of Conservation Voters talked about Washington's "jungle primary."

    No apology.

    Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin:

    Ken Rudin, political editor at National Public Radio, is also the creator of's ScuttleButton contest.

    © Copyright 1999 Ken Rudin

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