The Journal Gazette
 
 
Friday, February 07, 2020 1:00 am

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Hoosiers' outsized role on political stage

From the chaos of the Iowa caucuses, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has emerged as an early leader in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But if history is a guide, he's more likely to snag second place on the national ticket.

As Kathy Mulder of the Indiana Historical Society noted in a blog, Indiana has produced 12 vice presidential candidates, more than any other state except New York, which has produced 14.

Four of those Hoosiers were elected. Charles W. Fairbanks, an Indianapolis attorney, was a U.S. senator before serving as vice president under President Theodore Roosevelt from 1905 to 1909. In the 1912 election, Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidency with another Hoosier, Thomas R. Marshall. In 1916, when Wilson and Marshall were reelected, it was Hoosier vs. Hoosier: the unsuccessful vice-presidential nominee was, again, Fairbanks, with Charles Evans Hughes at the top of the Republican ticket. Marshall, who was born in North Manchester and lived in Columbia City, served as vice president from 1913 to 1921.

No one in Indiana has to be reminded of the state's two most recent vice-presidential nominees – Republicans Dan Quayle, who served with President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, and Mike Pence, who is running for reelection with President Donald Trump.

There were unsuccessful presidential bids by U.S. Sens. Vance Hartke (1972), Birch Bayh (1976) and Richard Lugar (1996). Viewed from those perspectives, Indiana appears to be an epicenter of national politics.

But what about the top spot? “We may only lay partial claim to ninth President William Henry Harrison, who served as the first governor of the Indiana Territory in Vincennes from 1801 to 1812, and 16th President Abraham Lincoln, who lived in Indiana from 1816 to 1830,” Mulder writes. Benjamin Harrison, who served from 1889 to 1893, “is the president most closely associated with Indiana, making it his home from 1854 until his death in 1901,” she noted.

So Buttigieg, if he won it all, could become the first uncontestable Hoosier to occupy the Oval Office in 128 years.


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