Aug. 31, 1964:
The New York Republican Party renominates Sen. Kenneth Keating for a second term. There is some dissension, over Keating’s refusal to back the GOP presidential ticket led by Barry Goldwater, but the nomination is without opposition.
The state’s Conservative Party, however, sees things differently. Calling Keating a “left-wing traitor,” the party picks college professor Henry Paolucci to run for the Senate. The next day, New York Democrats nominate U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy as their candidate.
Paolucci’s campaign, encouraged by William F. Buckley Jr., would go on to garner some momentum and positive press — a New York Times campaign profile went so far as to call Paolucci the race’s “scholarly candidate.” Still, come November, the professor lost to RFK.
His run, however, was hardly in vain. Rather than retreat to the ivory tower following his defeat, Paolucci soon signed up as vice chairman of the New York Conservative party. A year later, in 1965, WFB jumped into the arena, running for mayor of New York (and getting a book out of it). Then, in 1970, WFB’s brother James L. Buckley won the same U.S. Senate seat that Paolucci had lost just six years earlier — a breakthrough win for the Conservative party, and for the broader conservative movement.
For fun, NPR has posted a Keating button. Or, as we see it, an antique RINO-memento: