Charles H. Percy: A Political Perspective
Charles Harting Percy was considered a “boy wonder” in the business world of the 1940s and 1950s for leading the Chicago firm Bell and Howell to great successes in technology and retail sales. As a business titan at an early age, Percy acquired a taste for politics listening to Republican leaders such as President Dwight Eisenhower and other moderates. The millions of dollars Percy accumulated as a businessman allowed a base of independence that encouraged him to run for governor in 1964. He had resigned as CEO of Bell and Howell.
Percy challenged governor Otto Kerner, but could not overcome the incumbent’s strength in Chicago and benefits of incumbency. Percy lost. Rather than bow out of politics after one attempt Percy challenged incumbent U. S. Senator Paul Douglas who was seeking a fourth term in 1966. In a hard-fought contest, Percy won. During in September, during the last the last weeks of the campaign, Percy’s daughter Valerie was murdered at home, resulting in a high-profile media case that many thought gave Percy an advantage in the election.
After winning re-election in 1972, Percy decided to seek the presidency in 1976. He formed a committee to investigate the opportunity. However, Nixon’s resignation as president in 1974 and the appointment of Gerald Ford as president ended Percy’s plans.
Hartley takes the reader into the world of GOP Bourbons, a world as mysterious as that of the Daley machine.