Wednesday, November 30, 2011

News Archive: Kuchel stays potent force even out of governor’s race.

In late September 1965, Evans and Novak reported on rumors that though Tom Kuchel had ruled out a gubernatorial bid, the powerful CA senator was being entreated to play the kingmaker role, by publicly backing one of the moderate-liberal Republicans in the GOP primary in order to prevent Ronald Reagan from securing the nomination.  Given the fractured state of the CA GOP liberals, however, the authors acknowledge that even with Kuchel backing, there would have been “no certainty [of beating] Reagan.”  

The authors reported that the Reagan camp’s only real concern was long-time Nixon assistant and then-candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Robert Finch.  The fear—according to Evans and Novak—was that in the event of a divided and bruising primary, Nixon forces would push for Finch at the last minute as a compromise candidate.  However, since “Finch’s candidacy would be interpreted as a Nixon operation…[and]…Finch could not beat Reagan if billed as a Nixon front, a late Finch-for-Governor drive [was deemed] remote.”

The reporters’ rather pessimistic conclusion was that:
All this is reminiscent of 1963 and 1964 when moderate Republicans never united in one battle plan to stop Barry Goldwater for President.  On a state level here, the moderates are in exactly the same sorry condition and will stay there unless Kuchel tries to assume the uncharacteristic role of peacemaker.  That at least provides a ray of hope that was wholly lacking at last weekend’s San Francisco convention.

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