Richard Ottinger elected to US Senate in 1970--he might still be there!
Add Reply
David Tenner
2017-10-05 16:02:50 UTC
Raw Message
In 1970, there was a three way race for the US Senate from New York. The
candidates were Richard Ottinger, the Democrat,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Ottinger a liberal congressman who had
shown an interest in the environment before it became fashionable; Charles
Goodell, the nominal Republican candidate (he had been a moderate
conservative in the House of Representatives but had moved steadily to the
left after Governor Rockefeller appointed him to the Senate to fill Robert
Kennedy's seat) who also had the backing of the Liberal Party; and James
Buckley, the Conservative candidate, who the Nixon-Agnew administration
clearly regarded as the *real* Republican candidate. (Even Rockefeller
thought Goodell had moved too far to the left, and tacitly supported
Buckley.) Anyway, Spiro Agnew's baiting of Goodell had exactly the intended
effect: it not only rallied Republicans behind Buckley but led some liberals
to support Goodell, resulting in a narrow Buckley plurality victory--38.95%
Buckley, 36.96% Ottinger, 23.91% Goodell.

Suppose the liberals hadn't foolishly divided their vote and Ottinger had
won? (This is one of the rare cases where a *New York Times* editorial--they
endorsed Goodell--may actually have changed history. [1]) Here's my thought--
if he wanted to, he could still be US Senator today! I'm serious about that.
He would almost certainly have been re-elected in 1976 (when FORD TO CITY:
DROP DEAD doomed Republicans in New York). 1982 was a Democratic year, in New
York and nationally. In 1988, New York was one of the few states Dukakis
carried. 1994 would have been the most difficult year, but Senator Moynihan
was easily re-elected in OTL
http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=3459 and even Governor
Cuomo, for all the wear and tear he had accumulated, *almost* won.
http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=7207 So it's at least
conceivable Ottinger could have been re-elected in 1994, and if he had, he
could have won in 2000, 2006, and 2012, all good years for Democrats in New

So--no Senator Buckley, no Senator Moynihan, no Senator Clinton (presumably
that's the part with the greatest effect on history...), no Senator
Gillibrand? (And he might even decide to run again in 2018, despite being

[1] In the first--1972--edition of the Almanac of American Politics, Michael
Barone, who was then still a liberal, made clear his disgust with the *Times*
on this: "As a matter of tradition, New York liberals have been very much
taken by aloof WASP politicians like Adlai Stevenson; the tradition was bred
in the Tammany years, years of cigar-chomping Democratic machine candidates.
The New York liberal press works out of this heritage. Its columnists,
therefore, plowed through Goodell's conservative House record to find
evidence of the man's liberalism and then scanned Ottinger's liberal record
to find, as one writer put, 'feet of clay.' The *New York Times*
editorialized that voters should not be swayed by the polls in which Goodell,
whom they had endorsed, was doing badly; as if the right of franchise obliges
one to vote for a loser and against somebody who shares his views on the
issues. In Manhattan, Goodell won 30% of the vote, as against 14% city-wide.
If that 16% had gone for Ottinger, he would have won the election." p. 509
David Tenner
Rich Rostrom
2017-10-06 16:14:17 UTC
Raw Message
Post by David Tenner
So--no Senator Buckley, no Senator Moynihan, no
Senator Clinton (presumably that's the part with the
greatest effect on history...)...
Or suppose that Clinton decides to carpet-bag elsewhere.
I don't see any other clear openings in 2000; but suppose
Clinton decided to "go home" to Illinois and run in 2004,
thus pre-empting Obama?
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.