Voters in California’s 36th congressional district may have an interesting time at the polls in the next election.
Their incumbent US Representative, Raul Ruiz, plans to seek another term.
His latest challenger is also named Raul Ruiz.
The two same-name candidates say they’re confident voters will be able to tell the difference between them, but there have been plenty of past elections where there were two candidates with same name or similar names on the ballot, and in those cases they made the situation less clear.
There’s a famous story from 1946, in which a young World War II veteran named John F Kennedy was running for Congress.
One of his primary opponents was a city councilor Joe Russo, and somehow, another Joe Russo ended up on the ballot as well, a custodian who had never run for office before.
Councilor Russo’s supporters were convinced someone, possibly Kennedy’s wealthy and well-connected father Joe Kennedy, had put the other Russo on the ballot to help the younger Kennedy win, which he did.
But there was more.
John F. Kennedy goes on to win a seat in the US Senate in 1952. Around then, another John F Kennedy put his name on the ballot to run for Massachusetts state treasurer. And in 1954, he beat five other candidates to win the race, despite only spending a few hundred dollars on the campaign.
This other JFK would go on to run for Massachusetts governor in 1960, the year Senator John F. Kennedy ran for president.
He lost, but two other John Kennedys ran for his old job as state treasurer, and there were other John Kennedys elsewhere on the ballot in the state.
I’ve heard of favorite son candidates, but nothing like this.
Last week the San Francisco Giants had their closer, Will Smith, on the mound, trying to close out a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There were two out in the ninth, a potential tying run at first, and who should Smith see come up to bat but the Dodgers’ catcher, who is also named Will Smith.
In their first encounter Will Smith the pitcher managed to strike out Will Smith the catcher. No immediate reaction from Will Smith the movie star about the at-bat.
All about the “other” other JFK (Commonwealth Magazine)
Dodgers catcher Will Smith retired by San Francisco Giants pitcher Will Smith (Los Angeles Times)
Photo: John F. Kennedy campaigning in Nashua, New Hampshire, March 1960, via John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.