EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a weekly series examining the events of 40 years ago that led to Mitchell native George McGovern’s Democratic presidential nomination.
By TOM LAWRENCE
The Daily Republic
George McGovern returned to South Dakota in triumph this week in 1972.
McGovern was riding a cloud of positive media attention after winning the Wisconsin primary on April 4 when his plane touched down in Rapid City on April 7. He was greeted by hundreds of supporters.
On April 8, McGovern flew to Huron to make a speech before a gathering of South Dakota Democrats. He was at the meeting with fellow Democrats Gov. Richard Kneip, Lt. Gov. William Dougherty, Rep. Frank Denholm, who represented the state’s First District, and Rep. James Abourezk, who represented the Second District.
It was a rare time of great political success for Democrats in the state, and one that continued in the fall when Abourezk won a Senate seat to replace the ill Sen. Karl Mundt.
During the dinner in Huron, McGovern admitted his national campaign had forced him to neglect some of his work in the Senate.
He also may have had some stars in his eyes. When McGovern got off the plane in Huron, he was accompanied by actress Shirley MacLaine and actors Dennis Weaver and Richard Dawson.
All through his race for the presidency, McGovern, the son of a Mitchell pastor, was supported and often joined on the campaign trail by actors, actresses, singers and other stars. They raised money for him and, he hoped, would lure the votes of young people in the first national election in which people 18 and older would be allowed to vote.