Former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh, the two-time Democratic presidential candidate who died today at age 91, never made it to the June New Jersey primary.
Bayh dropped out of the 1972 race four months before the New Hampshire primary after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The 1976 Bayh campaign ended after losing Iowa to Jimmy Carter by a 28%-12% margin followed by a third place showing in New Hampshire and a seventh place finish in Massachusetts. He withdrew on March 4 and his name never appeared on a ballot in New Jersey.
Bayh’s first major appearance in New Jersey was in August 1964 when he addressed the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.
He returned to New Jersey that fall, along with Lynda Bird Johnson, Sammy Davis Jr., Vic Damone and Ben Gazzara for an LBJ barbecue at the Far Hills estate of industrialist Charles Engelhardt.
Over the years, Bayh returned to New Jersey numerous times as the featured speaker at Democratic fundraising events. Still, he found little support for his presidential campaigns.
Bayh was the 34-year-old Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives when he ousted a three-term Republican U.S. Senator in 1962.
In the Senate, Bayh sponsored two amendments to the U.S. Constitution: the 25th, which established a clear line of succession for the presidency, including the mechanism to fill vice presidential vacancies; and the 26th, which lowered the legal voting age to 18. He also led the fight that stopped two of Nixon’s nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court from winning Senate confirmation.
Bayh lost his bid for re-election to a fourth term in 1980, defeated by Rep. Dan Quayle.