John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Ten random things: August 4

Ten California Superintendents of Public Instruction:

  1. William John Cooper
  2. Will C. Wood
  3. Walter F. Dexter
  4. Wilson C. Riles
  5. Paul K. Hubbs
  6. Max Rafferty
  7. Charles T. Meredith
  8. Jack O'Connell
  9. Henry N. Bolander
  10. Frederick M. Campbell

I heard something interesting about the sixth person on this list tonight. Max Rafferty was California Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1963 through 1971. He was extremely conservative; he liked to brag that he had "killed progressive education in California." In 1968, he ran again liberal Republican Senator Thomas H. Kuchel in the GOP primary and won decisively. According to Rick Perlstein, an interview with whom I was listening to on the way home from work this evening, Rafferty's primary win convinced Richard Nixon that there was a largely overlooked pool of deeply conservative voters waiting for the right candidate. This was very much against the conventional wisdom of the day, since just four years earlier the ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater had been resoundingly defeated by Lyndon Johnson. But Nixon was convinced, and he turned out to be correct.

As for Rafferty, he lost the general election after a series of articles in the Long Beach Independent revealed that he had dodged the draft in World War Two by pretending to need a cane to walk. That would have hurt any candidate, but Rafferty had make support of the Vietnam War and criticism of Vietnam War protesters a key component of his campaign, and Democrat Alan Cranston won the election.


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