To find someone whose government experience begins and ends in the House you have to go back to John Nance Garner in 1932. But Garner was Speaker of the House, a major position now third in the line of succession. To find someone who had never climbed out of the well of the House to hold the gavel you have to go all the way back to 1908 when William Howard Taft nominated James Sherman. Sherman's main qualification, like Ryan today, was that he was solidly conservative and balanced Taft's suspect liberal streak.
There have been a couple of losers who had only been congressmen - Geraldine Ferrero (1980) and William Miller (1964). Sargent Shriver's (1972) main qualification was marrying into the Kennedy Clan. In 1936 Alf Landon lost with a Veep pick who had only been a newspaper publisher (Frank Knox).
The fact is, winning presidential candidates look farther up than the congressional chorus line when searching for their dance partners.
|Congressional Chorus Line|