Wisconsin’s John Byrnes won the last presidential contest for a sitting GOP U.S. House member 48 years ago; John Anderson came close in Massachusetts and Vermont in 1980

ronpaul10.jpgWith the Iowa caucuses one week away and Ron Paul leading in four of the five most recent public opinion polls conducted in the Hawkeye State, the Texas Congressman is in position to accomplish a feat that has eluded Republican U.S. House members for nearly half a century.

Paul is seeking to become the first sitting GOP U.S. House presidential candidate to win a state primary or caucus in almost 50 years.

The last time a Republican carried a state in a run for the presidential nomination was in 1964 when then 10-term U.S. Representative John Byrnes of Wisconsin carried his home state.

Congressman Byrnes, however, ran unopposed that year as a favorite son in the Republican primary, winning over 300,000 votes.

(The real story in the Badger State that cycle was George Wallace winning 34 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary behind favorite son Governor John Reynolds. Although Reynolds received nearly double Wallace’s tally, the strong showing for the southerner was considered a victory by the Wallace campaign).

Since Byrnes’ unchallenged victory, several Republican U.S. House members have made presidential bids – but none have won a single state in the nomination run (and many of these dropped out even before the first contest):

· In 1972: Pete McCloskey (OH-11) and John Ashbrook (OH-17)
· In 1980: John Anderson (IL-16) and Phil Crane (IL-08)
· In 1988: Jack Kemp (NY-31)
· In 1996: Bob Dornan (CA-46)
· In 2000: John Kasich (OH-12)
· In 2008: Ron Paul (TX-14), Tom Tancredo (CO-06), and Duncan Hunter (CA-52)
· In 2012: Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11)

John Anderson – who later launched an independent presidential bid – came close to scoring wins for a sitting U.S. Representative in 1980 in the early contests of Massachusetts and Vermont.

In Massachusetts, Anderson finished in second with 30.7 percent – just 1,378 votes behind George H.W. Bush at 31.0 percent. (Ronald Reagan was a close third with 28.8 percent).

In Vermont, Anderson finished in second with 29.0 percent – just 690 votes behind Reagan at 30.1 percent. (With Bush in third at 21.7 percent).

Ron Paul’s closest showing in his 2008 presidential run came in the Washington caucuses, where he placed third at 21.6 percent, just 4.3 points behind John McCain at 25.9 percent

The last time a sitting U.S. House presidential candidate from either party won a state primary or caucus was Democratic U.S. Representative Dick Gephardt of Missouri in 1988.

During that cycle, Gephardt started off strong by winning the neighboring Iowa caucus, as well as South Dakota and his home state of Missouri.

Democratic presidential candidates sitting in the House also carried three states in the 1972 and 1976 cycles.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm of New York’s 12th CD won Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey.

In 1976, Mo Udall carried the western states of Hawaii, Wyoming, and his home state of Arizona where he served the 2nd CD.

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  1. Jeff on December 28, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I recognize that it is not a primary or caucus but it should be worth mentioning that Ron Paul won the 2008 West Virginia Convention in a heavy upset to Romney.

  2. Adam101 on December 28, 2011 at 11:25 am


    The establishment welfare/warfare state is getting desperate to stop Ron Paul’s drive towards taking our country back. Now that the game plan to ignore Ron Paul has backfired the mass media and establishment candidates have switched to an all out attack mode trying to associate him with racism, and being dangerous, while continuing to promote that he is fringe and unelectable. Might this strategy not also backfire as well?

    Even if Ron Paul had actually written some of the racist statements which appeared in old newsletters under his name, for which there is no evidence and which seems completely out of character, there is no evidence whatsoever that he has been a racist during the past 20 plus years. To the contrary, there is much evidence that this is not the case based on his voting record as well as numerous words written and stated during all of this time.

    Even Ron Paul’s Senior Aide of 12 years, Eric Dondero, who has a serious ax to grind with Ron Paul and wants to see him go down, states that the establishment is barking up the wrong tree by trying to demonize Ron Paul as being racist or anti-Semitic.

    As the media constantly makes the bogus charges, Ron Paul will get an opportunity to counter by explaining his positions forcefully and in detail before the American people. This is precisely what he needs now for his message to catch fire and spread quickly before the majority of establishment candidates start dropping out of the race.

    The welfare/warfare state will not give up easily until the very end. We can expect the establishment to try and create The Flip & Flop Show between Romney and Gingrich by focusing their attention on them at the expense of all others. This will not work as Flip nor Flop has the ability to generate excitement among voters, and very possibly will just destroy each other.

    If Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination one can precisely expect the establishment to run Donald Trump or another 3rd party candidate in an attempt to stop him with little consideration given to increasing the chances of Obama being re-elected. At this stage Ron Paul can call the establishment on this while Trump will not be up to the task. And as the Republican nominee Ron Paul will have full opportunity to spread his message that will also be found attractive to many Democrats, and especially to Independents with whom he already leads in the polls.

    Throughout this entire process voters will become aware of the truth in increasing numbers. In this time of crisis the two party one elite establishment system has absolutely nothing new to offer, and has been consistently running anti-Ron Paul to simply preserve their power and privileged status at the expense of the American people. In the event that the establishment wins with Obama, Flip. or Flop, we can expect continued self-destructive endless wars of bad choice, bankruptcy, and full scale Depression.

    We can only hope that enough people become informed quickly enough to recognize that there is only one candidate who offers real solutions to starting the process of recovery and taking our country back. If the establishment continues its self-destructive approach to this election, as it continues its destructive foreign and domestic policies, it might very well help in the process of putting Ron Paul in the White House.

  3. Jim Gold on December 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

    It would be quite rare for a House of Representatives member to win a state, and even rarer to become president straight from the House. James Garfield is the only person so far in US history who has done it, and that was more than 125 years ago.

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