Down the Ballot

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ebay Find #9 John Glenn in '84 button

The Right Stuff?
I found this pin on ebay last year. John Glenn always fascinated me as a candidate. In high school I read a book about his failed bid for the Democratic nomination by Richard F. Fenno called The Presidential Odyssey of John Glenn. It takes the reader on the trip spanning the lead up to his 1984 presidential campaign and his eventual exit from the race.

It seemed Glenn was a little uncomfortable playing up his heroic background in NASA. The Right Stuff with Ed Harris was out in theaters during the lead up to many of the early primaries, but Glenn decided it wouldn't be appropriate to try and capitalize off the success of the film in the campaign. By the time aides and supporters had convinced him that it would be fine to play up The Right Stuff it was too late for his campaign. While early polling had him in contention with frontrunner Walter Mondale, he soon lost the attention of the media and the voters and was out of the race. His best showings at the ballot were on March 13th primaries in Alabama (20%) and Georgia (18%). The legacy of his presidential campaign took some 20 years to put to rest. In 2006, the Federal Elections Commission excused the $2.86 million dollars in debt he had accumulated from his '84 campaign.

While John Glenn didn't fair well as a presidential candidate, he had many campaigns for the United States Senate between 1964 and 1992. His first successful campaign was in 1974, and he won re-election in 1980, 1986, and 1992. He declined to seek re-election in 1998. Instead he sought a return to space. He became the second sitting member of Congress to fly in space. The first was Republican Senator Jake Garn.

The button above plays off Glenn's astronaut days. Multiple companies highlighted his space experience, even when the campaign did not. It is 2 1/4" inches with great imagery. This pin usually can be picked up for anywhere between $10-$20 dollars online.  Here's a link to Ron Wade Button's Glenn button page.

John Glenn isn't the only member of congress to have made it into space; Senator Jake Garn, and Senator Bill Nelson have also flown in space.
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