The Life and Times of Ray C. Bliss
William L. Hershey, John C. Green
Pages: 224; Size: 6 x 9
Series: Bliss Institute
Ray Bliss was a masterful behind-the-scenes force in the Republican Party for more than three decades at the local, state, and national levels. Recognized as a master of the “nuts and bolts” of practical politics, Bliss was among the first to use polling and television in campaigns. When Bliss took over as national chairman in 1965, the GOP was on life support after Barry Goldwater’s landslide defeat in the 1964 presidential election. Bliss rebuilt the party through hard work, innovation, a keen eye for detail, and uncanny political instincts. His shrewd ability to unite liberal, moderate, and conservative Republicans helped put Richard M. Nixon in the White House in 1968.
This thorough biography chronicles Bliss’s career from campus political czar at the University of Akron, to a master of Republican politics at the local, state, and national levels.
Ray Bliss was one of the great party leaders in American history, and John C. Green and William L. Hershey provide a wonderful account of his contributions, not only to the Republican Party but also to the practice of American politics. In telling Bliss’s story, Hershey and Green remind us of the laudable principles that defined Bliss’s life: his commitment to fair play, to vibrant two-party competition, and to good government being good politics.
—Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics
Ray Bliss understood the nature of American politics in a way few have, before or since. William L. Hershey and John C. Green’s authoritative new biography shows the instrumental role Bliss played in strengthening the Republican Party, first in Ohio and then nationally, at a time of deep disunity and division. Bliss’s story is a vital reminder in our polarized moment of the dignity of old-fashioned political work. It also underscores the need to battle extremism and the temptation to view political opponents as enemies.
—E. J. Dionne Jr., coauthor of One Nation After Trump and author of Why the Right Went Wrong
Ray Bliss was a genius of political party leadership and organization at all levels—county, state, and national; Mr. Chairman is a thorough and well-written account of both his remarkable career and the Republican Party from 1950 through 1980.
—Bob Taft, Governor of Ohio 1999–2007
At last we have the definitive biography of Ohio’s Ray Bliss, the master technician who for three decades engineered election outcomes at the local, state, and national levels. Mr. Chairman: The Life and Times of Ray C. Bliss is a masterpiece of political scholarship and reporting—indispensable for understanding Ohio at the apex of its political power.
—Michael Curtin, coauthor of The Ohio Politics Almanac
In a comprehensive but highly readable biography of the life of Ray C. Bliss, Hershey and Green followed the Republican chairman’s winning formula—careful planning, attention to detail, impeccable research, and inclusion of all views. The sections describing how Bliss turned the 1964 GOP debacle into a win for Richard Nixon in 1968 and then fought his own ouster as party chairman is riveting. The authors spent more than twenty years consulting local, state, and national reporters and political figures; books, newspapers, and magazines; and historical documents to weave the fascinating tale of Bliss’s dynamic fifty-year career.
—Lee Leonard, coauthor of James A. Rhodes, Ohio Colossus