Melanie Coen
Dole Institute of Politics

Dole Institute to commemorate pivotal 1974 Senate race

Tue, 09/30/2014

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics will commemorate 40 years since the hard-fought U.S. Senate race between former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and Congressman Bill Roy. Dole Institute senior archivist Audrey Coleman will interview Dave Owen, Dole’s 1974 campaign coordinator, and Bill Roy Jr., son of Rep. Roy, in a program titled “Your Story, His Story, the Legacy: the 1974 Dole-Roy Senate Race.”

The program will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Dole Institute of Politics. The program is free and open to the public.

Coinciding with American Archives Month, “Your Story, His Story, the Legacy: the 1974 Dole-Roy Senate Race” will integrate images of archival documents as well as vintage footage from campaign advertisements, to connect the live recollections to the archival record with new perspectives.

“The 40-year mark puts this race at an interesting place in documenting history,” said Dole Institute senior archivist Audrey Coleman. “The timing of the campaign pre-dates many adults’ memories, but so many crucial players are still with us and, for them, it’s their life — not history in an abstract or distant sense. Capturing that personal perspective is crucial to understanding the full effects of the career of someone like Bob Dole for decades, if not centuries, to come.”

A first-term senator in 1974, Dole faced a tough re-election in the wake of the Watergate scandal. A poll leading up to the election had Dole running six points behind the Democratic challenger, Roy, an obstetrician and lawyer. Dole went on to achieve a narrow victory in November. The result changed the course of American congressional politics for more than 20 years.

“The 1974 election served as a critical turning point in Bob Dole’s career. Had he lost, he would never had served as Senate Majority Leader or been the GOP nominee for both president and vice president,” said Dole Institute director Bill Lacy. “Hearing Dave and Bill’s comments on items from our collection will be like hearing an oral history live and in person.”

Before serving as an adviser and campaign coordinator to Dole, Dave Owen served as a Kansas state senator (1967-1973) and lieutenant governor of Kansas (1973-1975). Owen is a graduate of Ottawa University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Bill Roy Jr. served as legal counsel for Gov. John Carlin’s second term and served as a state representative for Topeka for eight years starting in 1985. From 2005-2010, he was chairman of the Johnson County Democratic Central Committee. Since 2012, he has served as Democratic National Committeeman for Kansas. 

The Robert J. Dole Archive & Special Collections at the Dole Institute of Politics is home to one of the nation’s largest collections of papers and artifacts for a nonpresidential politician.  It contains the complete records of Dole’s political and post-political career, including manuscripts, photographs, audio-visual material, oral histories, textiles, and artifacts.  The collection is a window to the legislative process as well as a resource for Kansas history and a chronicle of late 20th century history and popular culture. .

The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics.  It is located on KU’s west campus and, in addition to the Archive & Special Collections, offers programming with world-renowned guest speakers on a variety of topics that intersect politics, as well as opportunities for students of all ages.

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