President Ronald Reagan often is remembered for his ability to attract disaffected Democrats—the “Reagan Democrats”—to vote Republican. Yet, long before his first Presidential victory in 1980, Reagan garnered their votes in the 1966 California gubernatorial election. In beating Republican primary opponent, former San Francisco Mayor George Christopher, as well as his general election opponent, incumbent Democrat Governor Pat Brown, he drew heavily from the ranks of disaffected Democrats. Perhaps more surprising, Reagan polled well among Mexican Americans, who were traditionally Democrats. Indeed Reagan would win by almost a million–vote margin, and this was accomplished in no small way by the help of Mexican American voters.

NOTES

1.

Joseph Lewis, What Makes Reagan Run? (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968); Bill Boyarsky, The Rise of Ronald Reagan (New York: Random House, 1968), 152; Julie Pycior, LBJ and Mexican-Americans (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977), 222; Lou Cannon, Governor Reagan (New York: Public Affairs, 2003), 159–160. See also, Mark Brilliant, The Color of America Has Changed (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 231, 6.

2.

Pycior, LBJ and Mexican-Americans, 116.

3.

Ibid., 121.

4.

Ibid., 122.

5.

Ibid., 147–148.

6.

Ibid., 153.

7.

Ibid., 163–164.

8.

Ibid., 177.

9.

Ibid., 150.

10.

Ibid., 179.

11.

Ibid.

12.

Ibid.

13.

Kevin MacKenna, “The Total Campaign: How Ronald Reagan Overwhelmingly Won the California Gubernatorial Election of 1966” (undergraduate thesis, Columbia University, 2010).

14.

Tom Reed, interview by author, Durgin Park Estate, October 20, 2013.

15.

David Broder, “Christopher Matches Reagan Before Coast GOP Committee,” New York Times, February 28, 1966, 15.

16.

Matthew Dallek, The Right Moment (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 218.

17.

Cannon, Governor Reagan, 159.

18.

Todd Holmes, “Economic Roots of Reaganism,” Western Historical Quarterly 41 (Spring 2010), 61.

19.

Ibid., 57.

20.

Cannon, Governor Reagan, 8.

21.

Boyarsky, The Rise of Ronald Reagan, 119.

22.

Lewis, What Makes Reagan Run?, 150.

23.

Brilliant, The Color of America Has Changed, 6.

24.

Curtis Patrick, Reagan, What Was He Really Like? Vol. 1 (New York: Morgan James, 2011), 298.

25.

“Francisco Bravo, 80: Pioneer in Development of East L.A.,” Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1990.

26.

Lewis, What Makes Reagan Run?, 151.

27.

Ibid.

28.

Warren Weaver, “Kennedy Courts Voters for Brown in Los Angeles,” New York Times, October 23, 1966, 81.

29.

Gladwin Hill, “Rivals on Coast Chart Campaign,” New York Times, June 26, 1966, L43.

30.

Lewis, What Makes Reagan Run?, 151.

31.

Francisco Bravo, 1966a “Mexican–American Democrats,” August 1 letter, Papers of Governor Ronald Reagan, Campaign (3/4), box C32, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

32.

Ibid.

33.

Ibid.

34.

Ibid.

35.

Ibid.

36.

Ibid.

37.

Ibid.

38.

Ibid.

39.

Ibid. Grito is a celebratory cry in remembrance of Mexican Independence Day.

40.

Francisco Bravo, 1966b, “Agriculture Liaison and Information Committee for Reagan,” August 15 letter, Papers of Governor Ronald Reagan, Campaign (3/4), box C32, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

41.

Ibid.

42.

Ibid.

43.

Todd Holmes, “Economic Roots of Reaganism,” Western Historical Quarterly 41 (Spring 2010), 62.

44.

“Reagan Inroads with Mexican Americans,” Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1966.

45.

Brilliant, The Color of America Has Changed, 225.

46.

Holmes, “Economic Roots,” 6.

47.

Lawrence Davies, “Reagan Wooing the Farm Voters,” New York Times, September 16, 1966, 27.

48.

Holmes, “Economic Roots,” 61.

49.

Ibid, 58.

50.

Boyarsky, The Rise of Ronald Reagan, 152.

51.

Ibid.

52.

Herbert Gold, “Notes from the Land of Political Pop,” New York Times, December 11, 1966, 299.

53.

Boyarsky, The Rise of Ronald Reagan, 152.

54.

Lewis, What Makes Reagan Run?, 152; Cannon, Governor Reagan, 152; Pycior, LBJ and Mexican-Americans, 222. Craig A. Kaplowitz, LULAC, Mexican Americans, and National Policy (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2005), 110.

55.

Cannon, Governor Reagan, 177; “Reagan Urges Republicans to Aid Minority Problems,” New York Times, May 9, 1968, 32; Daryl Lembke, “Reagan Urges GOP to Offer Plans for Minority Aid,” Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1968; Jennifer Mandel, archivist, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, email communication in possession of the author, June 13, 2012.

56.

Tom Wicker, “In the Nation: Equilibrium Revisited,” New York Times, November 10, 1966, 46.

57.

Matt Barreto, “Anti-Immigrant Politics and Lessons for the GOP from California,” La Prensa San Diego, September 27, 2013, 6.

58.

Alan Gomez, “GOP Puts Money, Time Into Attracting More Hispanics,” USA Today, March 21, 2014, 5A.

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