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Skip vs. Fancy Ray

Noms de Guerre in the '98 Election

by Borgna Brunner

This article was posted on November 2, 1998.

Teddy, Harry, Ike, Jimmy, and Bill knew the value of a folksy nickname in politics. Like many of our presidents and sports heroes, the men and women running for office in the '98 mid-term elections understand the populist appeal of a homespun, all-American name.

There's Chip Pickering of Mississippi, Dutch Hillenburg of Indiana, Patsy Ann Danner in Missouri, and Bud Cramer of Alabama. Buck and Duke are California boys, Marge hails from New Jersey, and Kit was born and bred in the "Show Me" state.

Those politicians wishing to make an even stronger statement with their names include Stan "The Man" Estes of Minnesota, "Dr. Bob" Belamede of Vermont, and George "Aloha" Peabody from you-know-where. Then there's Gary "Bats" Pelphry who is opposing Newt Gingrich in Georgia. One can only imagine his campaign message: you've got to be crazy to run against Newt.

Lest you think the just-call-me-Hank phenomenon is a predominantly southern affectation, you'll be surprised to find out that the most colorful and abundant sobriquets come from that state of northern no-nonsense, Minnesota. The incumbent Democrat governor, Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey, is running against Jesse "The Body" Ventura (Reform Party), the former professional wrestler who would like people to call him "The Mind" from now on. Another one of his opponents is Fancy Ray McCloney (Independent), a comedian. The most normal sounding candidate in the race is the Republican "Norm" Colman.

In addition to the many avuncular sounding politicians, two grandfatherly types entered politics. In Oregon, the Socialist Party's candidate for Congressman in the 2nd district is Rohn "Grandpa" Webb. Meanwhile, in New York, "Grandpa" Al Lewis, best known for playing "Grandpa" on "The Munsters," is running for governor. New York, however, is not as tolerant as Oregon. Tragically, the New York State Supreme Court refused to allow Lewis's name to appear on the ballot as "Grandpa Al Lewis."

For more information on the 1998 election, see the following links:


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Did you know?
There are several theories of the origins of the English holiday of Boxing Day; none have to do with pugilistic competition.

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