October 18, 1976 12:00 PM

In presidential election years, public attention focuses on the race for the White House at the expense of other contests. But as the time draws near for voters to cast their ballots for 435 members of the House of Representatives, 33 U.S. senators and 14 governors, several candidates warrant special attention—some for previous celebrity, others for especially dramatic challenges to the old order, and one for his curious strategy of not campaigning at all. Herewith are reports by PEOPLE correspondents on 10 of the most interesting candidacies of 1976.

David Harris is an echo from the war

David Harris’ story is a romance of the ’60s—the Stanford student body president who left school for civil rights and antiwar work and ended up marrying the belle of the movement, Joan Baez (insert, with their son, Gabriel, now 6). After 20 months in jail for resisting the draft, and a much-publicized 1973 divorce, Harris, at 30, is running for Congress in northern California against Republican Rep. Paul McCloskey. “Clearly the political movement of the ’60s had run its course,” he says. “I thought, where to go from here? Running for Congress was the answer.”

It is a mark of his newcomer’s status that when Harris voted for himself in the primary, it was the first time he had ever cast a ballot. He was convicted in 1968, and it wasn’t until 1974 that California law was changed to permit ex-convicts to vote and run for office. Harris has mounted a low-budget campaign, and despite endorsements from Sen. Alan Cranston, Gov. Jerry Brown and ex-wife Baez, Harris’ own polls show him running 10 to 20 points behind.

If he wins, his swearing-in will be graced by New York Times reporter Lacey Fosburgh, to whom he is engaged. If he loses, he may go back to writing. He has been on leave from Rolling Stone since January and this August published a book about his prison experiences. Win or lose, Harris plans a few laid-back post-election weeks. The agenda: “Do absolutely nothing and get married.”

At 70, Hayakawa takes a new turn

“Until the primary,” cracks Canadian-born S.I. Hayakawa, president emeritus of San Francisco State, “the only people who took me seriously were the voters.” Nobody’s laughing now. Hayakawa, 70, beat out three entrenched Grand Old Party-liners to win the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. His race against incumbent Democrat John Tunney now looks like a dead heat.

Hayakawa came to prominence in 1968 when he reopened his campus during a bitter student strike. At one point he yanked the wires out of the strikers’ sound truck. He left the university in 1973 “a sort of popular folk hero,” he recalls. He would have run for the Senate in 1974, but the California Supreme Court, noting that he had just changed his party affiliation, disallowed his candidacy. The Democrats, he explains, had “abandoned freedom of speech at a time of crisis—freedom to say the ROTC should be kept on campus, freedom to say there were two sides to the Vietnam war.”

Some liberals find such reasoning ironic coming from the old wire-puller himself, but in such bastions of conservatism as Orange County, Hayakawa’s only liability seems to be his age. He takes pains to present a vigorous image: he fences, plays the harmonica, tap dances (as at right) and wears a jaunty tam-o’-shanter, a remnant of his childhood in the Scottish communities of Winnipeg and Calgary.

A naturalized citizen since 1954, Hayakawa has a wife, Margedant, and three children. An internationally famed semanticist, his book Language in Thought and Action has sold over one million copies since it was published in 1941. Hayakawa recently put together a book of his essays to be published next spring. His new mission, he says, is to trumpet the plight of the small businessman. “I’d like to take him on as a crusade,” Hayakawa says.

Bobby makes a run for the House

For 10 years Bobby Richardson was the all-star second baseman of the New York Yankees. Then, at the age of 31, still at the top of his game, he retired to spend more time with his family. Last June he retired again—this time as baseball coach at the University of South Carolina—to enter the race for Congress. “I just feel I can help,” says Richardson, a Republican campaigning against one-term Democratic Congressman Kenneth Holland.

Intensely religious, Richardson is an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Like his fellow Southerner Jimmy Carter, he invokes the virtues of trust and love, and he criticizes the enlarged role of government. An avid hunter, he strongly opposes federal gun control legislation. And even though the textile industry in his native Fifth District is still suffering from the aftereffects of recession, Richardson refuses to urge federal remedies.

The father of five children, ages 8 through 19, Richardson says he and his family prayed long and hard before agreeing he should leave baseball. Does the rough-and-tumble of politics bother them? “If you can take what people yell at your husband in the ball park,” Betsy Richardson says at their Sumter, S.C. home, “you can take anything.” The equable Richardson has lost none of his World Series confidence. “I don’t feel like I’ll lose,” he declares. “If I felt like a loser, I’d never have been able to play ball for the Yankees.”

Astronaut Schmitt shoots for the sky

Four years ago geologist Harrison Schmitt co-piloted the last Apollo module to land on the moon. Now he would like to become the second former astronaut to land in the U.S. Senate (the first: Ohio’s John Glenn). Rated a slight underdog in his race against New Mexico’s Democratic incumbent Joseph Montoya, the rugged 41-year-old challenger (who got help from Jack Ford last month, above) decided to enter politics some 15 years ago while studying for his doctorate in geology at Harvard. His dealings with Congress during a recent 20 months as NASA’s assistant administrator for energy programs helped persuade him to launch now. “Only a few congressmen have any kind of scientific background,” he explains. “A vast majority do not understand why we have an energy problem or how to solve it.”

A conservative Republican and a bachelor, Schmitt has used Montoya’s age, 61, as an issue. “I have time for the future,” says the former Fulbright scholar. “He doesn’t.” (Montoya has also been hurt by allegations that he once received preferential treatment from the IRS.)

Schmitt, who has logged more than 2,100 hours of flying time (and 22 hours exploring the moon), says he is running “to introduce some respectability into politics. It’s too important to be left to the kind of politicians most people think we have.”

Until last month Schmitt campaigned in a red pickup truck, but it was stolen and he now uses a rented car. Inevitably, he is asked what it was like on the moon. “But the question people want to ask and never do,” he says, “is, ‘How do you go to the bathroom in space?’ The answer is, very carefully.”

Does Big Jim know where the bodies are?

When James (“Big Jim”) Thompson announced he was resigning as U.S. attorney to run for the Illinois governorship, he meant it literally. In a style unique to this campaign season, the 6’6″, 200-pound Republican dons blue jeans and dirty sneakers for parades and actually jogs along with the floats and bands, stopping only to press the flesh—and occasionally to dart into a bar for a can of beer (his single-parade record is a sixpack). Once, in Waukegan, he raced the entire route with a tear in his pants seat. “I wondered why the crowd was so quiet,” he recalls, and adds: “If you don’t love campaigning, you are insane to do it. It is the hardest physical work there is.” (Picture at left.)

The Chicago-born Thompson, 40, made his name prosecuting official corruption. In three and a half years he indicted 315 government employees and convicted 90 percent of them—including the late Gov. Otto Kerner, Mayor Richard Daley’s former press secretary, seven Chicago aldermen, two state legislators and 54 Chicago policemen. “I’d always dreamed of getting into a position of authority to do something about corruption in Chicago,” he says. “I know where the bodies are buried.” Daley has fielded a machine-backed Democrat against him, Michael J. Howlett, but Thompson is far ahead in the polls.

Four months ago Thompson, a graduate of Northwestern Law School, married his former law clerk, Jayne Carr, 30, who is now deputy chief of the criminal justice division of the Illinois Attorney General’s office. The newlyweds live in a Victorian townhouse in Chicago with their Irish setter “Guv,” surrounded by impressionist paintings and antiques.

Friends believe a move to the governor’s mansion would not satisfy Big Jim’s big ambitions. His sights, they say, are on the White House. “I’ve been fascinated by politics since I was 11,” he says. “This is what I was born to do.”

Schaffer stalks her Goliath

Only one woman is running on a major-party ticket for the U.S. Senate: Connecticut Secretary of State Gloria Schaffer. She stands a slim chance of beating Republican incumbent Lowell P. Weicker of Watergate committee fame. Weicker is an absentee senator, Schaffer says, “except when the TV lights are on.”

The chic, 46-year-old mother of two is a fighter. At the 1970 state convention, when party bosses tried to dump her as a candidate for secretary of state, she outmaneuvered them on the floor. In her bid for reelection in 1974, she drew more votes than anyone else on the ticket, including Sen. Abraham Ribicoff and Gov. Ella Grasso. She now is putting 100 miles a day on her campaign car, including trips to New Haven for briefings on the issues at Yale. “Most politicians have a rapid pulse,” she explains.

A native of New London, Conn., Schaffer attended Sarah Lawrence College. She married husband Eugene in her freshman year and dropped out the next. (“I was very pregnant.”) Today the Schaffers (he’s in real estate) occupy a ranch-style home in Woodbridge. Daughter Susan, 26, works for the Chicago board of education, and son Stephen, 23, is an Indian spiritualist. (“I’m sad,” she shrugs, “but I recognize that he’s very happy.”)

Schaffer seems undiscouraged, however, by her underdog campaign against Weicker. “Self-proclaimed Goliaths,” she says, “have met their demise before.”

Dixy Lee Ray pulls another surprise

Dr. Dixy Lee Ray entered the race late, without campaign funds and without endorsements. So, when she won Washington’s Democratic gubernatorial primary after a campaign her own advisers called “schlock,” she astonished a lot of people. It wasn’t the first time. During her career as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and later as an Assistant Secretary of State, she lifted eyebrows in social Washington by living in a customized motor home with her two dogs and wearing knee socks to work. In her first try for elective office, she remains un-housebroken. “I don’t believe in a governing elite,” says Ray, 62. “Power is insidious. It cannot be held too long by any one person.”

She lives alone at Fox Trot Farm on an island in Puget Sound. During the campaign she sneaks there when possible, slipping into a rumpled jacket, one a relative discarded years ago. “There is a lot of Scot in her,” an aide says. “She makes Jerry Brown look like the last of the big-time spenders.”

Although a few of the liberal party regulars refused to endorse her, and she faces four tough debates with her well-financed GOP opponent, Ray seems undaunted. “I have an iron constitution, thank heavens,” she says. The reward of victory would be sweet: she would, after Ella Grasso of Connecticut, be the second woman in U.S. history to become a governor without succeeding her husband.

Admiral Zumwalt takes on the Byrd machine

His forefathers would be proud: Elmo (“Bud”) Zumwalt, retired Chief of Naval Operations, is running for the U.S. Senate in Virginia against incumbent independent Harry F. Byrd Jr. The contest continues a historic family rivalry—Byrd’s ancestors were bitter-end loyalists to the king 200 years ago, and Zumwalt’s were American revolutionaries. Promoting a package of social and bureaucratic reforms, Zumwalt, 55, is putting in dawn-to-midnight campaign days from his home in McLean, Va., where he lives with his Manchurian-born wife, Mouza. “I feel an obligation to run,” the admiral tells voters. “I think the country can use someone who has majored in foreign and defense policy.”

As the youngest-ever CNO from 1970 to 1974, Zumwalt made naval history and headlines with a series of directives (nicknamed “Z-grams”) liberalizing regulations, integrating the Navy and encouraging female recruits. In On Watch, his recently published autobiography, he Z-grammed Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for “appeasing” the Soviets in the belief that the U.S. is a declining power. “His process since 1972,” says Zumwalt, “has been one of continuing acceptance of Soviet demands.”

Zumwalt has retained his martial discipline, rising before dawn after five hours’ sleep to jog two miles. “The energy that lets me work 19-hour days is purely genetic,” he says. Ruggedly handsome, he owns a set of eyebrows almost as shrubby as Groucho Marx’s. (When an aide suggested he trim them, Zumwalt refused. “They’re genetic too,” he says.) But the veteran of Annapolis, three wars, three assassination attempts and four children also knows how to adapt. In Lexington last week, the ramrod admiral got downright folksy. “My campaign is rising like a homesick angel,” he said, “and we’re going to be in heaven in November.”

John Adams lives—on a ballot

The first time John Adams decided to run for something—back in 1948, when he entered the race for Massachusetts secretary of state—his motive was primarily whimsical. “I knew only about 50 people,” he recalls. “I wanted to find out how many voters thought the original John Adams was still alive.”

Few did, apparently, for the Founding Father’s namesake was defeated. But this year Adams, 61, has been destiny’s darling. Disabled by arthritis since 1968, and living with a sister in Exeter, N.H., Adams paid $50 to enter the Republican congressional primary in his district, then sat back and did nothing. The result: an easy 4,000-vote victory over the strongest of three GOP rivals. “I knew I’d win,” says Adams, a onetime prep school dropout whose résumé is a patchwork of such odd jobs as theater manager, athletic coach, turnpike engineer and one term as a Massachusetts state senator. “The Republican party in New Hampshire has gone downhill,” he says, “and I believe I can help resurrect it.”

If 1976 is the year of the nonpolitical politician, Adams may be the ultimate candidate. While other nominees are out pumping hands, Adams is watching the leaves fall. “The people want someone who doesn’t use up their money,” he explains. “It’s important that I haven’t spent a dime.” Billing himself as a “liberal conservative—meaning if I think something’s good, I’ll vote for it,” Adams tends to vagueness in discussing the issues, but vows to remain unbossed and unbought.

“Washington will be amazed,” he promises, “at how different I am from the other s.o.b. s.” Though widower Adams, father of three grown daughters, is given little chance of unseating Democrat Norman D’ Amours, he remains confident. “Muhammad AN thinks only of winning,” he says. “In politics, that’s the way to beat ’em.”

Another Rocky runs ahead in West Virginia

One reason Jay Rockefeller is the two-to-one favorite to be West Virginia’s next governor is that he ran in 1972 and was beaten. Many West Virginians suspected then that Rockefeller, who had settled there eight years before as a poverty program worker, would pack his carpetbag and leave. But instead Rockefeller—the 6’6″ nephew of the Vice-President and son of John D. Rockefeller III—took on the presidency of little West Virginia Wesleyan College. His decision to put down roots in the state for better or worse won him many admirers.

A liberal and a conservationist in his 1972 campaign, Rockefeller toured the state like a visiting superstar, and became a darling of the national media. This year he has diplomatically lowered his profile, and has changed substance as well as his style. He has softened his opposition to strip mining, and emphatically opposes gun control. (West Virginia has the lowest crime rate in the country.) “He is more realistic, but no less idealistic, than he has always been,” says his wife, Sharon, 31, daughter of Illinois Republican Sen. Charles Percy and mother of Rockefeller’s three children. “He’s just four years more mature.” While aides privately admit that Rockefeller, 39, is interested eventually in seeking national office, the candidate denies he is using the state as a stepping-stone. He points out that he refused his Uncle Nelson’s offer of an appointment to the Senate in 1968, after the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

Inevitably, Rockefeller’s enormous inherited wealth is an issue that cannot be ignored. “I was born with a big nose and a whole lot of money,” he concedes with a grin, “but the money I spend has no hooks in me.” His GOP opponent, Cecil Underwood, claims Rockefeller may have spent twice as much in the Democratic primary as the $1.7 million reported. If so, it was a pittance compared to Jay and Sharon’s estimated $55 million fortune (now in blind trust). “I don’t need to make a profit from public decisions,” Rockefeller has observed. “I’ve got all I need and plenty more.”

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