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Dec 16, 2005 10:32 am

More Proxmire

As a follow-up on my post yesterday, William Proxmire, who died yesterday, was almost a one-term senator: deep divisions within the Wisconsin Democratic Party swept the party's ticket under in 1964, making John Reynolds the only Dem governor to lose that November and holding Proxmire to 53 percent of the vote.

An early sign of the problems came in this call from March 1964 between LBJ and Cliff Carter, his point man at the Democratic National Committee. The President telephoned Carter just after a brief meeting with John Reynolds, who was in town to complain about White House meddling in his attempt to install future governor and vice-presidential candidate Pat Lucey as the state’s Democratic national committeeman, a move that had generated opposition from liberal activists in the Dane County (Madison) branch of the party. This was a battle the President clearly had no interest in joining: he viewed with scorn the internal battles of the Badger State’s reform-minded Democratic Party, and, among the state’s prominent partisans, he had enjoyed a close relationship only with Lucey, who shared with Johnson a combination of political pragmatism and idealism and who also happened to be a close friend of the Kennedy family. From the “Little Lounge,” with Bill Moyers, Sargent Shriver, and Larry O’Brien at his side, the President spoke to Carter regarding the Reynolds affair.

Clip is here (around 3 minutes); transcript is here.

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