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National Perspective | POLITICS

Name-Brand Politicians

Second-generation lawmakers such as the Bush brothers and Evan Bayh kept the family tradition alive with election day victories.

November 24, 1998|ANN L. KIM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Family-run businesses may struggle in this day of corporate conglomerates, yet politics as a hereditary occupation continues to thrive.

The most obvious examples in the recent election were the brothers Bush and the cousins Udall. But these two families were far from alone.

George W. Bush and Jeb Bush--sons of the former president--won reams of press with their gubernatorial victories in Texas and Florida, respectively.

Meanwhile, next year's Congress will include Rep.-elect Tom Udall (D-N.M.)--whose father, Stewart, was a House member from Arizona before serving as President Kennedy's agriculture secretary--and Rep.-elect Mark Udall--whose dad, Morris, took over Stewart's seat and held it for more than 30 years.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday November 25, 1998 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Metro Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Udall post--A story in Tuesday's edition misidentified the cabinet post Stewart Udall held in the Kennedy administration. He served as secretary of the Interior.

Several other election-day victors will be carrying on ancestral traditions as they assume new offices:

* Republican Robert A. Taft, governor-elect of Ohio, is the great-grandson of former President Taft and grandson and son of two former Ohio senators.

* Democrat Evan Bayh, senator-elect from Indiana, is the son of Birch Bayh, who represented the state for three terms in the Senate. The younger Bayh formerly served two terms as Indiana's governor.

* Democrat Charlie Gonzalez will take over the Texas House seat that his father, Henry Gonzalez, has held for 37 years.

* Republican George Wallace Jr. won a seat on the Public Service Commission of Alabama, the state his famed father and namesake long served as governor.

'Clearly American people like familiar brand names," said Stephen Hess, author of "American Political Dynasties" and a political scientist at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. "These products have proved successful in the past, and [voters] are willing to give them a chance again."

Indeed, voters reelected a sizable group of incumbents with well-known family names:

* Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D- Conn.), son of former Sen. Thomas J. Dodd

* Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), son of former Gov. Hugh Gregg

* Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D-Md.), daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, and her cousin, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.), another of Robert's children, gave up his seat in Congress.

Even with the latter's departure, the House will remain a wellspring of political offspring. These include Reps. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D- Ill.) and Harold E. Ford Jr. (D- Tenn.), both namesakes of notable politicians.

Others pursuing a career path previously charted by relatives are Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), daughter of 30-year congressional veteran Edward Roybal, and John E. Sununu (R-N.H.), whose father served as a governor and White House chief of staff under Bush.

Looking ahead to 2000, some major races may feature second-generation politicians. Most prominently, the early favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vice President Al Gore, grew up with a father who served as a senator from Tennessee for 18 years.

Also, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, is mulling a race for the Senate seat being given up by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, (D-N.Y.).

Still, a recognizable last name is by no means a ticket to victory, as several of this year's candidates proved:

* Democrat Hubert Humphrey III, namesake of a former vice president and an early favorite in the Minnesota gubernatorial race, fell victim to the unexpected victory of Reform Party candidate Jesse "The Body" Ventura in a three-way race.

* Democrat Janice Hahn, daughter of former Los Angeles County supervisor Kenneth Hahn, was defeated in her bid for a House seat in the South Bay.

As Rep. Ford once put it, "If I went out and said, 'I'm Harold Ford Jr.' and I couldn't construct a sentence, nobody would vote for me."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Then and Now . . .

Birch Bayh, Former Indiana senator / Evan Bayh, Indiana's senator-elect

George Wallace, Former Alabama governor / George Wallace Jr., Public Service Comm.

William Howard Taft, 27th president / Robert A. Taft, Ohio's governor-elect

Thomas J. Dodd, Former Connecticut senator / Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut senator

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