Voters Identify : Simon: Deep Roots for a High Reach

Times Staff Writer

Outside, bright morning sun glinted off mid-December snow and the fresh chill turned political speeches into visible wreaths of steamy breath. Inside, in a high school gymnasium draped with red, white and blue bunting, more than a thousand students chattered and joked and bobbed their heads as a loudspeaker played one of singer Paul Simon's hits.

A few minutes after 10, the singing ended and the students began to applaud as the other Paul Simon, the presidential candidate, stepped quickly and jauntily down the aisle. The high school band, slightly hesitant and a little out of tune, struck up a new song.

Few of the students seemed to know the music. But the teachers, veterans of New Hampshire primaries past, recognized it as a song indelibly associated with another candidate and another era: "Happy Days are Here Again."

Hubert H. Humphrey, 1968. Paul Simon, 1988.

Roosevelt's Theme

Just as Humphrey had used the song made famous as Franklin D. Roosevelt's triumphant theme from the 1930s to establish his roots in the Democratic Party's New Deal tradition, so Simon now uses it to stake his ideological and cultural claim on the White House.

Eight months ago, pundits and prognosticators, Republican opponents and Democratic rivals--they all laughed when the Illinois senator sat down to play. "I am not a neo-anything. I am a Democrat," he declared in his radio-perfect baritone when he announced his candidacy last May. Another naive liberal, purveyors of the conventional wisdom said. A fake, the more skeptical insisted.

Campaign comedians joked about his bow ties--"The man who let the bat die on his chest," gibed Republican Alexander M. Haig Jr.--and about the pendulous earlobes that make his silhouette resemble that of a Buddha. He was, the experts said, rumba in the age of rock 'n' roll. Few expected his bid for office would rate more than a footnote in the history of Campaign '88.

Funny Thing Happened

But a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity.

In a presidential campaign well populated by candidacies seemingly grounded in little more than the candidates' own ambition, Simon appeared to stand out as a man with roots. On the basis of that distinction, a candidate who initially aroused only condescending smiles among the political pros began to gain surprising support among voters--especially among Iowa Democrats, who share more than a little of Simon's particular heritage and who provide the first major test of the 1988 campaign with their Feb. 8 caucuses.

And, whatever the eventual outcome of the Democratic contest, the skeptics are wrong about one thing: Simon's roots are genuine. They are the strength of his campaign. They are its weakness, too.

At age 59, Simon still has the aura of an earnest young man, one who once wrote a book advising lonely teen-agers of the benefits of long showers and who still likes to speculate about how different the world might be if only the young Mikhail S. Gorbachev had had a chance to study as an exchange student in the Midwest. That kind of earnestness is honest and appealing to some, sanctimonious and ineffectual to others.

A legislator for 28 of the last 34 years, his colleagues recall Simon as a man who mastered issues and understood process, but often appeared uncomprehending of power.

Today, he insists that the issues of the election call for a candidate who hearkens to the party's liberal tradition, and he professes unconcern about the fact that this tradition has seemed notably unsuccessful in recent presidential elections.

Those who profess to find the motivations of public persons in the unresolved conflicts of their private lives may find Simon an unrewarding study. "Of all the people I've ever known in politics, Paul has had fewer identity crises than anyone," says a former legislative colleague and one-time house mate, Federal Appeals Court Judge Abner J. Mikva. He is, Mikva says, among the "few who never needed an analyst."

He is not a driven man, but a man with great drive. Not a deeply original thinker, but one who is thoughtful. Not a great legislator, but one who understands the legislative process. Not an advertising man's candidate, but one who knows the value of advertising. There is no inconsistency in noting that while he has retained his principles Simon has developed a fine-honed instinct for gaining publicity to advance them--and himself.

His drive, say long-time friends, relatives and opponents, comes not from internal demons but from an older source, and a simpler one. "His father (a Lutheran pastor from Wisconsin) wanted him to become a minister," recalls a long-time friend, Illinois state Judge Anthony Scariano. "This is Paul's ministry."

"Politics," Simon wrote in December, 1953, when he announced his first bid for public office, "always has seemed somewhat exciting to me . . . . It was--and is--much more exciting than any baseball game could be."

Born into a solidly Republican family on Thanksgiving Day, 1928, Simon as a boy shared his father's enthusiasm for Alfred M. (Alf) Landon over Roosevelt in 1936 and Wendell L. Willkie over F.D.R. in 1940. As a 19-year-old newspaper editor, he also backed a Republican in 1948, Minnesota's Harold Stassen. But as he approached adulthood Simon fell under the sway of liberal Democrats such as Adlai E. Stevenson Jr. and Illinois Sen. Paul Douglas, and when he turned 21 in 1949, he celebrated by registering to vote--as a Democrat.

The newspaper columns he wrote then, explaining his decision and outlining his political creed, could be dropped into his speeches today without a jarring note. "I have been for a positive Republican Party which is not a party that fights for big business alone . . . . That party does not exist" anymore, he wrote after registering as a Democrat.

A month later he attacked deficit spending, saying the Republican-controlled 80th Congress had boosted the national debt by cutting taxes too sharply and spending too much on defense. "A sound economy will do more toward combating communism than a nation covered with atomic bombs," he said. Then, as now, he advocated shifting money away from the Pentagon and into education and public housing.

His is a tradition born in the Progressive and good-government reform movements of the early decades of the 20th Century and nurtured by the liberal social-gospel Protestantism of the upper Midwest. It is a tradition that has powerfully shaped the message of the Democrats and has provided the party with many of its most dynamic and compelling leaders.

But it has had repeated difficulties capturing the nation--in part because of questions about the message, in part because of lingering doubts about whether the messengers, idealists all, had the toughness to make it work in an unkind world.

"Leadership in the Great Democratic Tradition," Simon proclaims. Indeed, his is the tradition of five of the party's last nine presidential candidates--intelligent, honest and decent Midwesterners; men of sincerity, right-thinking substance, sometimes even charm and charisma--everything, it seemed, except votes. Their roster is a roll call of dedicated men and a chilling display of electoral futility: Adlai E. Stevenson (twice), Hubert H. Humphrey, George S. McGovern, Walter F. Mondale.

And, now, Paul Simon?

"I think it's a perfectly valid question," he said in an interview. But Simon refuses to concede that the nation has rejected his creed. It just hasn't accepted it yet, he insists.

Voters, Simon and his advisers say, are not really looking for a candidate who agrees with them on all the issues. They--Democrats and Republicans both--want a President they feel comfortable with, one who seems "genuine."

Simon and his advisers became convinced early on that a candidate like him would appeal to an electorate like that. They have aggressively pushed the notion of Simon the un-slick.

Smiling, Simon has watched as journalists enhance his homespun image--in reality his suits are well fitted and nattily pressed, his bow ties match his shirts and at five foot nine his height is half an inch above average--while he unflappably uses over-optimistic economic forecasts to justify promising a balanced budget and playing down the possibility of tax increases.

It is image politics for a decade turned sour on images. So far, the homespun strategy is working.

"It's a strange thing," Simon says. "I'm not real sure (why), but there's some comfort" for voters in what they see in him.

But the strategy would not have succeeded without the reality behind it. Simon's image is not spontaneous, but neither is it fake.

"Whatever you see about Simon, every move has been calculated all along. He half-playfully talked President in the late 1950s, early '60s," says a longtime friend, University of Chicago theologian and historian Martin Marty. His image has been as carefully calculated as his steady climb up the ladder of American politics: state representative, state senator, lieutenant governor, congressman, senator.

As a candidate long ago, he adopted the bow tie, knowing it made him stand out in a crowd. As a congressman, he was known for arriving hours early for the annual State of the Union addresses to grab a seat by the aisle and be seen on television shaking hands with the President. As a Senate candidate in 1984, he sat back and let his media advisers run a tough, sometimes brutal, campaign that turned Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles H. Percy, his Republican incumbent opponent, inside out.

In the rough politics of Illinois for four decades, Simon has lost an election only once--an upset when he ran for governor that taught him, friends say, to be tougher in his campaigns and to avoid putting the words "tax" and "increase" in the same sentence.

Across those four decades, he campaigned for reform and good government in a heavily corrupt Illinois Legislature in the 1950s and 1960s. He campaigned for liberal social spending in an increasingly conservative Congress in the 1970s and 1980s. A generalist in a realm that gives clout to specialists, he has been a maverick who never entered the legislative leadership. He has left no monuments--but he has been spectacularly diligent.

As a newspaper editor in the 1950s, he crusaded against corruption and spoke up for civil liberties against McCarthyism. As a public official in the 1960s, at a time when hotels in the state capital would not admit blacks, he advocated strong civil rights laws to constituents in a part of Illinois that lies farther south than Richmond, Va. On the stump, he enjoys retelling stories of times he has accepted the boos of hostile audiences--and turned them around. He has written 11 books--four or five of them substantial--and he writes them himself.

A man without hobbies or distractions, he seldom watches movies and has not read a novel in decades. He relaxes watching football games while reviewing papers and calls himself "a workaholic" without apparent self-consciousness.

Nearly all of Simon's close friends are fellow politicians. So is his wife. In 1956, Jeanne Hurley, a young Cook County prosecuting attorney, was elected to the Illinois Legislature. She and Simon, who had been elected in 1954, worked together on reform issues and on civil rights. When friends would ask Simon when he planned to marry, he would say he was "waiting for a Lutheran Jeanne Hurley." She, when asked, would say she was "waiting for a Catholic Paul Simon." Eventually they stopped waiting.

For their first date, he offered her a choice between the circus and "The Music Man," then new and playing in Chicago. She chose the musical. For their second date, he proposed. On their honeymoon in 1960, their first stop was Washington and a visit to Simon's mentor, Sen. Douglas. Their second stop was West Virginia to check out the hot Democratic primary between Humphrey and John F. Kennedy.

Jeanne Simon, who gave up her own legal and political career not long after her wedding, is, by all accounts, her husband's closest adviser and confidante. She shares his political outlook and is not afraid to use what she calls "the L word"--liberal--as she stumps for her husband across the community halls and living rooms of Iowa.

She is also willing to use rhetoric sharper than her husband's carefully honed good-guy image will allow: "My husband has written 11 books--that's 10 more than Ronald Reagan has read," she tells campaign audiences.

Once, when their daughter, Sheila (they also have a son, Martin), was a small child, she recited her own version of a nursery rhyme: "Woodrow Wilson had a farm, eeyi, eeyi, o."

"What does this say about us?" Jeanne Simon asked her husband.

"It's an unusual family," said Jeanne Simon's brother, attorney William Hurley, "Most normal people hate the electoral process, for good reason, it's a pain. They actually like it, they like the whole process to a point that's amazing."

Simon's first experience with campaigning came on the back roads of Oregon in a Model A Ford, traveling through the 1930s and '40s as his father, Martin, tended to the souls of his Lutheran flock.

Martin Simon's faith was not one that talked of sudden conversions or moments of ecstasy. "If they tell me the world is to end tomorrow, still I must plant my apple tree," Martin Luther had said. The faith emphasized diligence over drama, the work of a life, not life-changing moments.

Martin Simon exercised his diligence first in China, where he and his wife, Ruth, moved as missionaries 10 days after their wedding in 1926, and then in Eugene, Ore. The couple returned to the United States just barely in time for their first child, Paul, to be born on U.S. soil.

"I know why you and Dad had to come back to the states," Ruth Simon remembers her firstborn telling her once. "So I could be President."

Eugene on the eve of the Great Depression was a verdant, friendly university town of 25,000 surrounded by lush fields and orchards, a town of lumber mill hands and college students. The Simon congregation was small but grew rapidly as bad times began to settle on the Midwest, driving Lutheran families from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri to seek new homes on the West Coast.

It was, in the memory of Ruth Simon and her two sons, a community of toil, a place where few were rich and each worked to help all. At confirmation time, church members would pitch in to buy suits and dresses for the children entering the congregation. In the summer, most of the town would head for the fields to harvest peaches, beans and hops. When travelers arrived in town looking for work, residents would do what they could to make the new arrivals comfortable.

"From our parents we got drilled into us the notion--I happen to think it's correct--that our purpose in life is to help others," recalls Paul Simon's younger brother, Art, now a minister who runs Bread for the World, a Washington-based organization that lobbies for domestic and international anti-hunger programs.

Martin Simon earned $62.50 a month, when the congregation had the cash to pay. While he worked days, Ruth Simon would work the night shift at the local cannery. One parent, at least, would be home at all times. Their house, a drafty ramshackle parsonage, was poor but had frequent guests. Visiting ministers, a monthly student discussion group from the university and those whom the depression had driven to the road all would stop by.

Paul and Art grew up hearing the news of the day at the family dinner table.

By the time the two became teen-agers, much of the talk would be of war. In 1942, Martin Simon spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast. "We were criticized quite severely," says Ruth Simon. Paul, who was in high school at the time, recalls being embarrassed that his father had become a center of controversy.

Today, he says he is embarrassed about his embarrassment. His father's courage in defense of civil rights, he repeatedly says, made a lasting impression on him.

As Martin Simon's ministry grew, he spent increasing time as a publisher of religious books and magazines. "Neither of us knew the first thing about printing," Ruth Simon recalls. "God shoved us into it." Both boys worked in the family print shop. Paul also sold the Saturday Evening Post door to door.

In 1945, Simon ran his first campaign, traveling around the state at age 17 in a 1934 Ford to become the president of the state's Walther League, the Lutheran youth organization. By then, however, he already had become convinced that his future lay not in the ministry but in journalism. His ambitions were not modest. "I wanted to be the Walter Lippmann of my generation," he said.

Meanwhile, the Simon family decided to move its publishing business to the Midwest to be closer to the bulk of Lutheran congregants. In 1946, they packed their printing press onto a train bound for Highland, Ill., across the Mississippi from St. Louis, where Ruth Simon had grown up and Martin Simon had attended Concordia Seminary.

Paul, who had enrolled at the University of Oregon to study journalism, began looking for a college in the Midwest. A visiting minister told him about Dana College, a small Lutheran school up the Missouri River from Omaha, Neb.

Over the next several years, Simon's political and religious creeds would evolve substantially. At Dana, Simon came in contact with a more liberal and ecumenical variety of Lutheranism than the strict, conservative Missouri Synod faith he had grown up with. "Faith," he wrote some years later, "is not to be carefully guarded and kept on an honored shelf, but must be applied to the dirt and grime and tragedy of life. In a very real sense, all of life is a service of worship."

Simon enjoyed Dana and thrived there. He sang in the choir and, continuing the political success he had shown in Oregon, he won election as student body president in his junior year.

One evening late in 1947, while Martin and Ruth Simon were taking a Dale Carnegie self-improvement course, a man approached them with a question: Not far from their home in Highland, in the small town of Troy, Ill., the local newspaper publisher was dying of cancer. The town's business leaders were anxious to find someone to keep the paper open. Did they know of anyone who might be interested?

That was the end of Paul Simon's college career. On June 24, 1948, with $3,600 borrowed from the local Lion's club, Paul Simon became the 19-year-old editor and publisher of the Troy Tribune.

It was a region dominated by poverty and vice. Ruined coal mines and gritty mills scarred the landscape. Gamblers and prostitutes brazenly peddled their services, especially to visitors from St. Louis. And Simon attacked the vice--and the local politicians who winked at it--with all the moral fervor of a young man just recently out of a seminary.

About a year after buying the paper, he visited a local brothel, had a Coke and, when the madam invited him upstairs for some $5 "entertainment," left and wrote an article about his experiences. "I walked out of the place with $5 still in my pocket--and undiseased, which is probably more than many a fellow can say," he wrote.

The following spring, he demonstrated his ability to gain and exploit publicity when he drove to Springfield, the state capital, to ask Gov. Adlai Stevenson to send state troopers to enforce gambling laws that local officials were ignoring. On his return, he wrote an article--"Big County Gambling Places to be Closed," the headline said--reporting that Stevenson had agreed to his request.

"A group of them were sitting in one of these places eating and drinking and they saw the article and laughed," Ruth Simon recalls. They were still laughing when the state troopers pulled into the parking lot.

Simon was not the only local editor to write about illegal gambling. Even at the time, he gave much of the credit to other local papers and to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But he was the unusual one, the spunky kid, and when Sen. Estes Kefauver brought his organized crime hearings to St. Louis in 1951, Simon was the one he called as a witness.

While his experiences in college and as a young editor changed Simon, the 17-year-old who left Oregon in 1946 would be recognizable to many who meet him today. He was an earnest--some would say preachy--young man, hard-working, witty, but very serious. "I think sometimes he was born serious," wife Jeanne says.

And much of what would become his campaign style already had been formed by watching his father as he lectured and taught. The hallmark of Martin Simon's preaching, Art Simon recalls, was his stories, and stories have become the centerpiece of Paul Simon's campaigning as well.

"The most satirizable thing about Simon," says Martin Marty, who has known him since the late 1940s, "is not the bow tie, not the horn-rim glasses, but the personal experience anecdote."

Anecdotes fill Simon's speeches, his articles, 60 pages of the 200-page book outlining his public works jobs program. A story he hears at a campaign stop in the morning easily can be incorporated into his stump speech by afternoon.

At a campaign stop in Keene, N.H., for example, he met a small child, Elliot Halverson, who had recently gotten a kidney transplant. The next day, he recounted the child's story to a reporter traveling with him, and by nightfall, he had worked it into his standard speech for supporters in Manchester.

The use of anecdotes reminds some listeners of Ronald Reagan. Both men use homespun stories to render complex ideas simple and concrete. And for both, an anecdote can become the basis for a fixed, unshakable conviction. "You can push him so far, but you won't push him further," says Marty. "His very consistency, fidelity, are handicaps in a world that has changed."

Simon's idea for a federal jobs program for the unemployed, for example, is an idea "he's been talking about for years and years and years," said Chicago lawyer and former Federal Communication Commission Chairman Newton Minow, a longtime Simon adviser. Similarly, as far back as the mid-1950s, Simon was advocating more peaceful exchanges with the Soviet Union, arguing that person-to-person contacts would reduce the threat of war.

But alongside the similarities, Simon and Reagan have profound differences. Many of Reagan's anecdotes, for example, have been shown over the years to be derived from rumors or stereotypes, often from old movies, rather than from actual events.

By contrast, when Simon heard a story about how few Americans speak a foreign language, he wrote a book on the subject. Although he speaks nothing but English, the economic benefit of having more language instruction has now become one of his tenets.

Once possessed of an idea, he will seek out experts to "talk it out" over dinner at his home or in meetings at his office. "It's one of the great advantages of being a senator," says Jeanne Simon. "People always have time to respond to your calls."

But the most important difference between Reagan and Simon is the fundamental set of beliefs about individuals and society within which the two men fit the anecdotes they absorb. "I can't help thinking of Ronald Reagan saying government is the problem," Simon told his Manchester audience, "and I couldn't help thinking of the (government) money we spent on research so that little Elliot Halverson could live."

Late in 1953, Simon announced his first campaign for public office. The campaign, for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, was a model of every race he has run since.

There were few issues:

Simon's campaign fliers said little about what he would do if elected but made much of his character. They reported that he had campaigned against corruption and that he was a "personal friend of Adlai Stevenson and Sen. Paul Douglas."

Simon worked harder than the opposition:

Ruth Simon, his mother, made more than 20,000 telephone calls, she recalls. Her husband spent most evenings visiting coin laundries to distribute flyers. Art Simon, by then following his father's path as a student at Concordia Seminary, would pile his friends into a car to drive over to Illinois and ring doorbells for his older brother. The candidate himself was everywhere.

And Simon knew the tricks:

Illinois at the time elected three representatives from each electoral district, and voters were allowed to cast as many votes as there were open seats. A person could divide those votes among several candidates or cast all his votes for one. In the primary, the local Democratic machine had two incumbent candidates, and so their supporters would have to split their votes between the two. Simon's supporters could "single-shot" their votes and effectively double their voting strength to put him onto the general election ballot and into office.

"Just before the primary," Ruth Simon recalls, "we ran off a lot of flyers" at the family print shop, explaining how to fill out the ballot to "single-shot" the votes. The family was careful "to destroy all the evidence so no one would spill the beans" and alert the opposition. Late in the campaign, they flooded all the major towns in the district with the new leaflets.

Simon is "a very shrewd political person, which I'm not sure everybody understands," said Michael Bakalis, a former Democratic candidate for governor of Illinois and one of Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis' chief Illinois backers. "Paul knows the political landscape."

The question that dogs his record is whether he has been as successful in office as he has been in gaining office.

The Illinois Legislature Simon joined in the winter of 1955 was one of the most corrupt in the nation. Reformers were a beleaguered handful. It was a place of colorful nicknames. Reformers called one of the House leaders "Ali Baba," and his associates "the 40 Thieves." Regulars, in turn, called Simon "the Reverend."

Most Democrats in the Legislature were beholden to the Cook County machine run by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. Nearly all the rest were part of a similar organization in rural downstate Illinois run by state House Speaker Paul Powell, who gained fame after death when his executor discovered thousands of dollars stuffed into shoe boxes in his closet.

Aligned with neither faction, Simon and other like-minded reformers met together in the evenings to study legislation and compare notes. He shared a Springfield house with three other liberal reform Democrats, Mikva, Scariano and Robert Mann. The Kosher Nostra, they were called.

As he and other reformers gained seniority, they successfully blocked much bad legislation, according to former colleague Robert Marks, now an attorney in Chicago. Seldom, however, could the reformers muster the votes to pass legislation from their own agenda.

In Springfield, Simon was known for ethics, for filing an annual financial disclosure form, for being cheap. He would return any gifts that seemed to him to be extravagant: One former state house reporter recalls a friend who worked for Simon being sent out to get the price on a donated pen.

He quickly mastered the mechanics of legislating and gained respect from his colleagues for his diligence. He campaigned against state budgets swollen by patronage jobs and pork barrel projects.

But he remained an outsider, and his outside status only deepened in the fall of 1964 when he and free-lance writer Alfred Balk wrote an article for Harper's magazine entitled "The Illinois Legislature: A Study in Corruption." The article quoted estimates that 30% of the Legislature's members were on the take.

The article infuriated the Legislature. "Who's he talking about?" demanded House Speaker Powell, "the guy on your left, the guy on your right, or you?" The state Senate, of which Simon was then a member, moved to censure him. "He was absolutely pilloried," Mikva recalls. "He opened himself up to criticism from a lot of honest people" who felt their reputations had been sullied.

"I really thought that was the end of my political career," recalls Simon. He developed an ulcer; Scariano, who had worked with him on corruption issues, suffered from a spastic esophagus. A commission set up to investigate allegations of corruption was stacked with legislative cronies and issued a whitewash. About the only good thing to come from the episode, Jeanne Simon says, was that his doctor told Simon, who had been a teetotaler, that for the sake of his ulcer he should start drinking wine with dinner.

Just as Simon was out of the mainstream as a reformer in the Legislature, he arrived in Congress in 1974 as a liberal while liberalism was going out of style. On his favored topic, education, the 1960s and early 1970s had been a period of great expansion of federal programs. By the time Simon began moving up the ranks, the period of retrenchment had begun.

In addition, "it was very hard for Paul to adjust to the discipline" of the House, says Mikva, who moved from the Legislature to Capitol Hill at roughly the same time. With 435 congressmen competing for attention, "you cannot be a generalist and be effective," he adds. "That was very hard for Paul, who's interested in everything from immigration to a tax bill."

In the Senate for the last two years, Simon has been more comfortable, but not notably more influential.

Predicting presidential performance on the basis of legislative accomplishments is an inexact business. To supporters like Mikva, Simon's is a record of candor and decency. Simon, Mikva says, is effective even though he "is uncomfortable manipulating people and events."

To others, however, Simon is naive. "He is a very likable person and he's also very bright, but the real question you have to ask is does he have the gut instincts to make something happen, to cut the deals, to find the angles," Rep. Leon E. Panetta (D.-Monterey) says. He was a "conscience of the institution," Panetta adds, but "you have some people who are consciences, you also have the people who are the doers."

Simon himself argues with typical earnestness that often "your most important achievements are not the big things you do" but the smaller items that, while little noted, directly affect many individuals' lives. In the Legislature, for example, he sponsored a bill to require high schools to offer graduate equivalency degrees. The bill attracted minimal press coverage, but "tens of thousands of people in Illinois were able to take advantage of that."

Not surprisingly, with that attitude, Simon has never been more successful in office than from 1968 to 1972, when he turned the low-profile job of lieutenant governor into that of a statewide ombudsman. The job allowed him to seek out people around the state who needed government's help, publicize their stories and gain action. It had made him widely popular, and he decided to cash that popularity in and run for governor in 1972.

Daley tried to convince him to go for the Senate instead, a traditional maneuver that the machine had used before to keep reformers away from the governor's chair. Simon dug in his heels and insisted on the governor's job. Daley eventually agreed to support him.

It was a fatal embrace.

Simon's opponent in the 1972 Democratic primary, Dan Walker, repeatedly accused him of being in cahoots with the Chicago machine. Simon had been just polite and accommodating enough to the machine over the years that Walker could make his charge plausible, and independent liberal voters who had long praised Simon began to desert him.

Simon then compounded his troubles by announcing that if elected he would remove the state sales tax on food and other necessities and make up the lost revenue by raising the income tax. Walker campaigned the length of the state telling people that Simon would increase taxes.

Simon's advisers begged him to hit back. But he "wouldn't get tough with his opponent," said Minow, who worked on the campaign.

As the returns rolled in, the shock of defeat settled heavily onto the Simon family and his advisers. Art Simon, who had been listening to the returns on the radio, called. "How's Jeanne taking it?" he asked his brother. "It's hard for all of us," came the reply.

The loss has strongly colored his approach to elections since. In addition to instilling a profound wariness of mentioning tax increases during a campaign, it taught him the benefits of political retaliation--a lesson he applied vigorously when he ran successfully for the Senate against Percy in 1984.

Losing "was a great lesson to me," Simon says. "That television tube is the most important thing, (and) when someone takes out after you, you have to take after them."

Friends of Simon also say that losing humbled him somewhat. After each election, he and Jeanne return to their home in the hilly peach and apple orchard country of Makanda, Ill., to plant a tree. "That way we can be sure that at least some good will come out of the day," Simon says.

And after that, "I write to all the Democratic candidates in Illinois who lost because I know when you lose, no one pays attention to you."

Researcher Aleta Embry contributed to this story.

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