Your Blogmeister’s Desk
1988 was the first quadrennial Presidential election cycle when I was old enough (ten years old, having turned 11 during the primary season) to observe and absorb the whole process. During those years, my mother was partial to Channel 4’s local eyeball newscasts, so because of dial lock, CBS network news and Dan Rather was our national news source on the ‘tube, back in the days when TVs had tubes. It was why I was watching Dan Rather talk about space on two occasions in January 1986 — Voyager 2 swung by Uranus in about the middle of the month, and then Challenger late in the month.
For the hell of it, just to go down memory lane, I asked Mr. YouTube if he had CBS’s 1988 Election Night coverage on file, and behold:
At one point, Leslie Stahl tells of a Socialist party mayor of Burlington, Vermont who tries to win the state’s at-large Congressional seat as an independent. He wound up not winning that year, but two years later, he would. The rest is, as they say. Except Stahl forgot to tell us his name: Bernie Sanders. You’ll note that Vermont voted Bush, which was the last time it was a Republican state. California, too. Michigan and Pennsylvania ultimately went for Bush, and had not been Republican until Tuesday.
But there’s another thing I totally forgot and should have remembered. At 1:35:30:
At least according to CBS’s series and timing of calls that night, Missouri put Bush above 270.
Other Missouri election results from that night and the events of the 28 years that followed got me to thinking about the chess board interactions between politicians or wannabes named Ashcroft, Carnahan and Blunt; all three of those names were on the statewide ballot in 1988, as it was, and all three families would play a major role in state politics, and John Ashcroft would have a national impact, in the coming almost three decades. Back to election night 1988, John Danforth won his third and final Senate term; he was so popular that the big name Missouri Democrats sat out, and the sacrificial lamb Democrat nominee was an obscure state senator from Jefferson County named…Jay Nixon. Who, as you can see, wouldn’t be obscure for long.
One thing you did not see here was an announcement for the Arkansas Governor’s race. When Bill Clinton won re-election in 1986, that was the first election of four-year terms; before, it was a two-year office, as is Governors of Vermont and New Hampshire currently. This means 1988 was the first Presidential year where AR-GOV was not on the ballot. The change was made from a voter-approved state constitutional amendment in 1984; the legislature put it on the ballot because they knew their Governor had Presidential ambitions, and they wanted Clinton to be able to run for President while being in a situation to where he had the Governor’s office to fall back on if he didn’t make it. As a matter of fact, Clinton came this close to running for President in 1988. He wound up getting cold feet, but because he didn’t run himself and wound up being an early endorser of the party’s ultimate nominee, Michael Dukakis gave him a prime convention speaking slot, in which he spent more than a half hour giving a 15 minute speech. Of course, all was forgiven four years later. The rest, as they say.
Someone else was somewhat interested in 1988’s Presidential politics: