Where Are they Now? Nixon Opponent Jerry Voorhis Part 2

About the California congressman Jerry Voorhis who was victim of Richard Nixon's dirty campaigning, history and biography then and now.


Headline--1946: JERRY VOORHIS

From the campaign's beginning, Nixon--coached by Murray Chotiner, lawyer-politician and PR man, retained as his adviser--ran an aggressive and progressively "dirty" race. Using the tactics he later employed against Helen Gahagan Douglas and other opponents--implying guilt by association through half-truths and sly innuendos--he launched a vicious attack against Voorhis's character. Still, campaign projections predicted an incumbent victory until Voorhis agreed to meet Nixon in a series of public debates.

For all intents and purposes, the first debate clinched the election for Nixon. The embryo politician leaped to his feet and waved a paper in the air, declaring it stated that the national Political Action Committee of the CIO (falsely accused of Communist affiliations) had endorsed Voorhis. (This was a trick Sen. Joseph McCarthy would use many times during his subsequent Communist witch-hunt days.) Then he dramatically thrust the paper at his opponent.

For the rest of the campaign, a shaken Voorhis spent most of his valuable time denying he was a Communist and CIO supporter. The actual issues were forgotten as Nixon piled up votes by presenting himself as a patriotic, retired lieutenant commander with a spotless past record, while at the same time declaring that his opponent was not only a draft dodger but also a Communist supporter.

On election day, Nixon won the congressional seat with a plurality of 16,000 votes. He had cleared the first hurdle on the track leading to the White House.

And Today: Jerry Voorhis has been retired since 1967. Now in his late 70s, he lives in Claremont, Calif., where he dedicates much of his time to the community. He is a member of numerous boards of directors and religious organizations, including the California Commission on Aging, the Pomona Valley Council of Churches, the School of the Arts of California State Polytechnic University, and the National Association of Housing Cooperatives. He still does active political work for the Democratic party and his chosen candidates and belongs to many political and environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, Common Cause, and the Friends of the Earth. Voorhis is a regular speaker and lecturer in the Claremont area and is also a writer. His most recent books are The Strange Case of Richard Milhous Nixon (Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1972), a study of Nixon's character and checkered career, and The Life and Times of Aurelius Lyman Voorhis (Jerry's grandfather), published in 1976.

Upon Nixon's resignation in 1974, Voorhis declined to comment to newsmen.

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