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Column: Worthington has some close brushes with The White House

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Oct. 9, 2004.

WORTHINGTON — Many years ago — maybe even before there was a moon — the Daily Globe was an afternoon newspaper and Don Trunk was sports editor. Shortly after the press started to roll each day, Don loaded his car with Globes to deliver to carrier boys at towns east of Worthington. Oh — I think Don went east as far as Jackson.

He came home along Highway 16 and he stopped for just a few minutes every afternoon at the home of Bob and Virginia Harens, four miles from Worthington. The Harens were special friends and Don dropped off the afternoon paper — Bob Harens loved newspapers, and he was eager to get his copy of the Globe before it would come in the mail the next day.

I rode with Don every now and again, often enough to know Bob and Virginia had their own basketball squad of good, hardworking boys, and one of those boys is Tom.

Most recently, I saw Tom Harens in the Turkey Day parade. He was riding along 10th Street in a car with a sign that said he is running for president of the United States, representing the Christian Freedom Party. My word — Tom Harens is the only presidential nominee I ever knew, and even as a boy.

I don’t want to get into the politics of all this except to say Tom, who has served in the Minnesota legislature, is indeed the nominee of his party, and his name will be on the presidential ballot Nov. 2. Tom continues a faithful Catholic. He and his party believe Christianity as it is represented in the major political parties is badly misrepresented.

I don’t judge Tom “a kook,” as some might suspect. He is level-headed, sincere in his belief and in a hope that a Christian spirit can prevail. He judges he may get one percent of the vote.

We all are caught up in presidential politics. Worthington has a presidential nominee for the first time.

This may surprise some local residents:

Worthington has a claim on the man who has given more money to presidential candidates than any other man in U.S. history. This isn’t my judgment. This is what I read in a newsletter from the Center for Media and Democracy:

“Perhaps America’s champion alltime campaign contributor is Dwayne Orville Andreas … since the 1970s, leading politicians of both parties have been well acquainted with Andreas, his company, and his money.” For 30 years, Dwayne Andreas was in the leadership of Archer Daniels Midland, based at Decatur, Ill., the largest U.S. processor of farm commodities, especially corn and soybeans. Andreas has given unknown millions of dollars to presidential contenders.

That fact is better known than the fact that Dwayne Andreas was born on a farm between Worthington and Rushmore in 1918. He lists Worthington as his place of birth. His parents were Mennonites.

Dwayne Andreas was thought to be a special benefactor of Hubert Humphrey, and he was. Hubert Humphrey was the godfather of the Andreases’ son, Michael. But Andreas plays an even hand. His goal was to have close friends for ADM along all the corridors of Washington. Andreas lately commissioned a heroic statue of Ronald Reagan, which stands at the entrance of the ADM headquarters building.

The local region, where head counts are thin, is thought out of reach for presidential contenders these years, although Bill Clinton made the last appearance of his final personal political campaign at Brandon, S.D., in 1996. Worthington has hosted a score of presidential contenders, from Wendell Willkie and Adlai Stevenson on to Jesse Jackson and — well, Tom Harens.

The first presidential candidate to visit this region — ahead of Theodore Roosevelt, who was at Sibley, Iowa, Org and Rushmore in 1910 — was John G. Woolley, nominee of the Prohibition Party, who arrived at Worthington’s depot on Sept. 24, 1900, along with his vice presidential running mate, Henry Metcalf.

Woolley, who attracted millions of votes in his campaign against President William McKinley, went to Westminster Presbyterian Church on that Sunday afternoon and met with 700 people, including, prominently, George D. Dayton, whose house is being restored. That evening, there were 900 people at the church. Next morning, again at the depot, in a steady rain, there were 150 people.

Presidential politics has always stirred excitement in these parts.