As Gillian Brockell notes at The Washington Post, the last time we had a very large Democratic primary field we got Jimmy Carter. The Plains, Georgia peanut farmer emerged as the primary winner over Birch Bayh, Lloyd Bentsen, Jerry Brown, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Sargent Shriver, Morris Udall, and George Wallace, to name a few.
Here is a taste of Brockell’s piece.
As the primaries approached, one Democrat after another announced campaigns for president. Most were senators. Some were governors. One came from a university town in Indiana. They spoke of a need to clean up an executive branch they said was riddled with corruption.
No, this isn’t a description of the 2020 campaign. It was 1976 — the most crowded Democratic presidential field in modern American history, until the current election cycle, which boasts 21.
And, despite worries about a bruising intraparty battle, the little-known peanut farmer who won the primaries also won the White House. His name was Jimmy Carter.
How many Democratic candidates were there in 1976? One historian put the number at 17, though it depends on how you count them. Let’s just say the race was remarkably fluid right up until the last primary.
Read the rest here.