HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Theodore Roosevelt. I thought of TR this week amid all the flap over New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's endorsement of Gov. Mario Cuomo's bid for re-election.
Mario's a Democrat. Rudy's a Republican, and many Republicans say his traitorous act will end his hopes of higher office.
Hahahahahaha! Hopes of higher office! Hahahaha! No New York City mayor in this century has been elected to higher office! Not senator, not governor, not vice president, certainly not president.
Teddy Roosevelt, like Giuliani, was born in New York City (in the family brownstone at 28 East 20th St., trivia fans). Though never mayor, he was elected to represent a city district in the state legislature. He also served as the appointed president of the city's police board, en route to becoming governor.
TR is the only native New Yorker and New York City office-holder ever elected president (1904). He's also, I can assure you, the last real New Yorker who will be elected president. I don't mean just "New York City-er" either. I will repeat a fearless prediction I made in 1988 and 1992, when there was a Democratic boomlet on for nominating Mario Cuomo for the presidency: No New York City or State government official will ever be elected president.
That state's glory days are behind it. They really were glory days. In 12 of the 13 presidential elections from 1904 through 1952, at least one major party presidential nominee was a resident of New York.
(Some of them were not New York trained politicians. Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 was a legal resident of New York City, but he had no political ties to the state and was, in fact, living in Paris when he began winning primary elections. The Republican nominee in 1940 was Wendell Willkie, a Hoosier transplanted to the big city's corporate but not political world. In 1924, Democrats nominated John W. Davis for president. He was an ex-West Virginia politician turned Wall Street lawyer. Campaign advisers urged him to move back to Clarksburg. He said, "Are you nuts?", and stayed, and lost in a landslide.
New York Gov. Thomas Dewey was the Republican presidential nominee in 1948 and 1944. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a New York state senator and governor, was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1944, 1940, 1936 and 1932. Gov. Al Smith, a sidewalks of New York pol, was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1928. In 1916 Republican Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor, was the Republican presidential nominee. In 1912, TR ran as a third party candidate and came in second. In 1904, Republican TR ran against Democrat Alton B. Parker, also a New Yorker.
Ike ran for re-election as a Pennsylvanian (Gettysburg) in 1956, and the only New Yorker nominated for president in the past 40 years was -- Richard Nixon in 1968, who became a legal Californian in 1972.
1908-1952 was a trend, and so is 1956-1992.