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Glenn To Seek Ohio Democratic Nomination to Senate

Jan. 17, 1964 - Lieut. Col. John Glenn, the astronaut who hurtled to national fame as the first American to orbit the Earth, announced today he would seek Ohio’s Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate. The 42-year-old Marine Corps officer said he had decided to leave the nation’s space effort because he feared he would be too old to shoot for the moon by the time the Apollo lunar project was ready. He said he chose to shoot for the Senate, rather than enter business or take a staff job with the space program, because this course offered him the best opportunity to use his 22 years of military and space experience. The astronaut, exuding charm and smiling radiantly, read his announcement and answered questions this morning at a crowded news conference at the Neil House in Columbus, Ohio.

Most observers in Ohio believe that Col. Glenn will defeat 74-year-old Senator Stephen Young in a bitter primary fight that threatens to inflict deep wounds on the Democratic party. If he does, the astronaut would pose a serious threat to Republican Representative Robert Taft Jr., son of the late conservative Senator, who is expected to win the Republican primary. The astronaut did little today to unfold his political views. He said the Hatch Act limited his ability to make political statements before he left the Marine Corps. He said it would take about four weeks to process his retirement. The astronaut came closest to committing himself politically when he said: “Careful consideration of the current positions and leadership of both parties leads me to the choice of the Democratic party. I believe President Johnson has presented a program for our nation which a majority of Americans will support.” Col. Glenn said today that he had split his votes among both parties in previous Ohio elections but that his parents “have been lifelong Democrats,” which made it a natural fit. Her husband’s entry into politics will mean a lot of changes for Mrs. Annie Glenn, including a change of political affiliation. “I’ve been a Republican,” she said today, “but I think now I’m on the other side. I know now I’m on the other side,” she quickly added.


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