Democrats: Return of the Pro

John Kennedy called him "the best election man in the business," and many leaders in both parties still think of Lawrence Francis O'Brien that way. The reputation is well-deserved. J.F.K.'s two Senate races and the Democratic presidential campaigns of 1960 and 1964 benefited from the O'Brien tactical touch. Coming late into Hubert Humphrey's dispirited and disorganized entourage in 1968, the Irish Mafia man from Massachusetts injected enough order into the effort to permit a strong Democratic surge in the final weeks.

His 69-page handbook on how to assemble electoral majorities is required reading for American politicians. The manual covers everything...

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