“Hello, Americans...this is Paul Harvey....”
After some months showing my face on tv each night to become recognized (sinister plot) I resigned and tossed my hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Congress. There was one other candidate but with my name recognition he didn’t stand a chance.
Paul Harvey read the announcement about my candidacy in Kup’s column in the Sun Times and used it on his national news on ABC Radio. When I won the nomination I think Harvey and Kup both plugged it.
Now, I was up against a powerhouse machine and the GOP in a predominately Republican district....with little money to wage a campaign. I remember making the begging voyage to Chicago to talk to the Teamsters Union boss. I got a few thousand out of them. My Father also kicked in so with that money I bought some bus billboards and made a good tv spot (a must for a tv guy.)
The bus cards looked great and my opponent, Congressman John Anderson and I hit the men's room at the same time once and he was joking about every time he left an engagement he’d see the bus cards. He thought it was funny.
Bobby Kennedy would have been president (not Nixon) but he was murdered in Los Angeles so Hubert Humphrey stepped in to lose it.
Vice President Humphrey came to Rockford for a rally and I was on the platform sitting next to him. He looked tired and worn at that stage (probably knowing he had no real chance) and was pissed because I ask him to sign my program. I thought that was a sure sign the Democrats were in trouble. And they were.
I ran into some other politicians who were more friendly.
The most impressive was Illinois Senator Charles Percy. Although a Republican, Chuck was a moderate and easy to make friends with as we appeared at a fair along with another famous Illinoisan...Secretary of State Paul Powell...to be famed later for the shoe box full of cash found in his hotel room after he died.
As I met Powell he shook hands and slipped me a few hundred dollars and laughed, “walking around money” he said. I thanked him. I also ask him to see if the regular license plate of SM 1 was available and he told me to call him after the election and he’d check.
On a more serious note I was going door to door in a small town near our farms and a woman greeted me sobbing.....
"I’m so glad you came. I lost my son in Vietnam and I’m thankful you are running...maybe you can do something to stop this stupid war!”
I held her and tried to comfort her but it was one of those moments that speaks a thousand words.
I wouldn’t be able to help on that score...I lost in a landslide.
Then...if that wasn’t enough of a “downer” about a month later...a personal disaster.
I burned our house down.