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POLITICAL NOTES: Odd Man In

2 minute read
TIME

In Rhode Island’s Democratic primary to choose a successor for retiring patriarchal U.S. Senator Theodore Francis Green, no one figured that Claiborne deBorda Pell, 41, had much of a chance. No one, that is, except Newcomer Claiborne Pell. So while the statehouse pros snickered, and while his opponents—former Governor Dennis Roberts and former U.S. Attorney General J. Howard Mc-Grath—sniped at each other, pipe-smoking Princetonian Pell put together an energetic campaign. Last week, in a state that is 58% Roman Catholic, Episcopalian Pell carried the primary with a walloping 83,000 votes to Roberts’ 45,000 and McGrath’s 7,500.

Pell, though running for office for the first time, was born to the political purple. His family, down through the generations, counts five Congressmen and one Rhode Island lieutenant governor. Young Pell himself had put in a tour in the U.S. Foreign Service (Czechoslovakia, Italy) and dabbled in state politics, mostly as a fund raiser. But in this campaign it was his fat checkbook, his patrician manners and his softly spoken determination to get to Washington that counted most. Billboards and statewide TV wrote his name large across the summer. He traveled tirelessly, talking to Rhode Island’s immigrant minorities in French, Italian or Portuguese. He promised relief for Rhode Island’s failing industries, and he tied himself firmly to the coattails of Jack Kennedy.

When his family’s longtime friend Theodore Green heard of his doubts about beating Republican Nominee Raoul Archambault Jr., 39, former assistant director of the U.S. budget, the old patriarch (93) set Claiborne straight: “Tush, young man, you don’t have to worry in this state.”

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