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The Accidentally Elected

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Posted: May 20, 2022 12:01 AM

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The last time the American economic situation was this bad, then-President James Earl Carter Jr. got attacked by a killer rabbit and nearly cried in front of a live television audience lamenting the great malaise. Voters swept Ronald Reagan into the presidency to restore American confidence and take us from mourning in America to morning in America. Reagan, however, did not get there alone. A group of mostly accidental senators went into office with him.James Abdnor of South Dakota, Jeremiah Denton of Alabama, John Porter East of North Carolina, Paula Hawkins of Florida, Mack Mattingly of Georgia and Slade Gorton of Washington surprised America by becoming senators. All ran in extremely close races. All were underdogs. All were gone after one term — East taking his own life in June of 1986, and the others rejected by voters that November. They became known as the accidental senators.The elections were a harbinger of things to come, particularly the South turning right and heading to the GOP. Denton, for example, lost to Democratic Rep. Richard Shelby in 1986. Shelby is now the retiring Republican senator from Alabama.In addition …

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