by Karl Kurtz
Sen. John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as candidate for vice president means that Sen. Barack Obama is the only former state legislator on the national ballot this fall. From a state legislative junkie's viewpoint, the ideal Republican selection would have been Minnesota Gov. (and former legislator) Tim Pawlenty, which would have meant that two of the four top candidates were former state legislators. Oh well, we already knew that legislative junkies don't rule the world.
The 2000 election was the last time that there was at least one former state legislator on the ballot--former Connecticut state Sen. Joe Lieberman. But when was the last time at least two of the four major party candidates were former state legislators? That was harder to research than I expected. In 1936 both the Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates were former state legislators--Franklin Delano Roosevelt of New York and John Nance Garner (photo) of Texas. Neither of their opponents, Alf Landon (Kansas) and Frank Knox (Michigan), had served in a state legislature.
On the Republican side, you have to go all the way back to Calvin Coolidge (photo as a Massachusetts legislator) in 1924 to find a former state legislator on the ticket! In 1920 both the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates, Warren Harding (Ohio) and Coolidge, were former legislators.
Previous posts on former legislators and the presidency: