Remembering the LaRouchies
Thursday, Feb 14, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Lyndon LaRouche is dead…
His movement attracted national attention, especially in 1986, when two LaRouche followers, Mark Fairchild and Janice Hart, unexpectedly won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor and secretary of state, respectively, in Illinois.
Adlai E. Stevenson III, the Democratic candidate for governor of Illinois that year, was appalled. He denounced the LaRouche group as “neo-Nazis” and refused to run with Mr. Fairchild and Ms. Hart, organizing a third-party bid instead. He, as well as the LaRouche supporters, lost to James R. Thompson, the Republican incumbent.
Some voters said they had voted for Mr. Fairchild and Ms. Hart because they had been endorsed by Mr. LaRouche’s National Democratic Policy Committee, which they thought was affiliated with the mainstream Democratic Party..
That’s not how I remember it. Most people had no idea what the National Democratic Policy Committee was because it spent no money. The two LaRouche candidates had “safe” last names compared to the “etnik” names of the party’s slated candidates, who didn’t campaign all that much. The media barely covered the LaRouche candidates at all and there was some legit resentment about Democratic secretary of state candidate Aurelia Pucinski because of her father Ald. Roman Pucinski’s involvement with the city council’s fight against Mayor Harold Washington.
Hart upset Aurelia Pucinski in the Democratic primary for secretary of state, and Fairchild beat state Sen. George Sangmeister to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.
Hart was the more vocal of the two, but Fairchild posed the bigger political problem, since he was instantly paired with the party’s gubernatorial nominee, Adlai Stevenson III. Back then, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor ran separately in the primary, but as a ticket in the general election.
The 1986 election was supposed to be a grudge match of sorts for Stevenson. Four years earlier, he lost to Republican Gov. Jim Thompson by a mere 5,074 votes — one of the closest statewide elections in Illinois history.
But in 1986, he suddenly found himself hobbled to Fairchild and Hart and facing certain defeat — and months of disavowing their beliefs. Instead, Stevenson bolted the ticket and created the new Solidarity Party for a one-time political run. That meant there would be no Democratic candidate for governor on the ballot, leaving the party doomed.
Thompson won the race for governor, pulling in 52.7 percent of the vote to Stevenson’s 40 percent. The Democratic slate with no candidate for governor garnered 6.6 percent.
LaRouche’s candidates spent much of that election traveling through Europe touting their guy’s conspiracy theories.
Those days were weird, man.