J. Bracken Lee
John F. Kennedy
Richard M. Nixon
One of the most interesting presidential elections ever held in the United States took place on Nov.8. 1960. But the interest locally wasn't just about John F. Kennedy and Richard Milhouse Nixon. It was also about a local native running for President as well.
In 1959, Kent Courtney, a conservative political operative sponsored a meeting in Chicago, Ill. In which he invited many conservative luminaries such as Robert W. Welch (founder of the John Birch Society) and William F. Buckley (publisher of the National Review). Also attending the meeting was former Price Mayor and Utah Governor J. Bracken Lee. It was there that Courtney put together the beginnings of what many of them thought would be a powerful political party, the Conservative Party.
Courtney was a strong segregationist who thought that the two major parties were to much alike. He later proposed that Lee run for President and he for Vice-President on a ticket using the parties name.
The big show of course was between the two candidates that were representing the Democrats and the Republicans. Kennedy, a senator from Massachusetts, had picked his running mate Lyndon Johnson after a floor fight at the Democratic convention in July. Johnson had ambitions to be President, and had lost. For many it was a strange alliance, a southern Democrat and a northern liberal together.
Nixon picked Henry Cabot Lodge as his vice presidential candidate. Nixon had been vice president during the Dwight Eisenhower administration, a time of relative peace and prosperity in the nation, although a recession in 1957 had hurt the country a good deal.
It became one of the closest elections in history (by popular vote) because Kennedy won by only a little out of 112,000 votes over the entire nation. He did outdistance Nixon by 303 to 219 in electoral votes however.
Lee, running with his conservative mate Courtney on the Conservative party ticket (in New Jersey, the only place it was on the ballot) got a grand total of 8,708 votes. He went on to be Salt Lake City's mayor from 1960 to 1971.
Carbon county, once again, went big for Democratic candidates. After straying from the Democratic presidential ticket in 1956 (voting for the Eisenhower ticket over the Democratic Adlai Stevenson ticket 4507-4460) the county surged votes for Kennedy.
"(Carbon County) returned to its traditional place in politics, a place which ahd been assured through all the years since 1924 when the county voted for Calvin Coolidge, Republican," stated the Sun Advocate on Nov. 10, 1960.
The paper noted that voting was heavy, in fact the heaviest it had ever been despite the fact the county had lost population in the previous decade.
"Tuesday's election in Carbon county was marked by a record voter response," the paper stated. "A greater number of votes were cast this year than in 1956 when the population level of the county was considerably higher. In 1956 a total of 8,967 votes were cast for the presidential candidates and in Tuesday's election the total for the two candidates in this race was 8,997. According to County Clerk B.H. Young approximately 88 percent of the voters turned out."
Within the county it was an all Democratic win. Winners for county commission seats included Gerald Oviatt and Albert Santi.