1964 United States Senate election in New York
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← 1958 November 3, 1964 1970 →
Robert F Kennedy crop.jpg
Kenneth Keating (US Senator from New York).jpg
Nominee Robert F. Kennedy Kenneth Keating
Party Democratic Republican
Alliance Liberal
Popular vote 3,823,749 3,104,056
Percentage 53.5% 43.4%

County results
Kennedy:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%
Keating:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%

U.S. senator before election

Kenneth Keating

Elected U.S. Senator

Robert F. Kennedy

The 1964 United States Senate election in New York was held on November 3, 1964. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Kenneth Keating ran for re-election to a second term, but was defeated by Robert F. Kennedy.


The Socialist Labor state convention met on March 29, and nominated John Emanuel.[1] The Republican state convention met on August 31, and re-nominated the incumbent U.S. Senator Kenneth B. Keating.[2] The Conservative state convention met on August 31 at Saratoga Springs, New York, and nominated Prof. Henry Paolucci.[3]

The Democratic Party state convention met on September 1, and nominated U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy on the first ballot with 968 votes against 153 for Congressman Samuel S. Stratton.[4] The Liberal Party met on September 1, and endorsed Kennedy.[5] The Socialist Workers Party filed a petition to nominate candidates on September 7. Richard Garza was nominated.[6]


John English, a Nassau County leader who helped John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential election, encouraged Robert Kennedy to oppose Keating. At the time, Samuel S. Stratton, a member of the United States House of Representatives from New York's 35th congressional district, was considered the most likely Democratic candidate. At first, Kennedy resisted. After President Kennedy's assassination, Robert Kennedy remained as Attorney General for Lyndon B. Johnson. However, Johnson and Kennedy feuded. Kennedy decided to run for the Senate in New York in August, and resigned from the Cabinet on September 3, 1964. While many reform Democrats resisted Kennedy, support from Robert F. Wagner, Jr., and party bosses like Charles A. Buckley, of The Bronx, and Peter J. Crotty,[7] of Buffalo, helped Kennedy win the nomination at the party convention.[8]

During the campaign, Kennedy was frequently met by large crowds. Keating accused Kennedy of being a carpetbagger from Massachusetts. Kennedy responded to these charges in a televised town meeting by saying, "If the senator of the state of New York is going be selected on who's lived here the longest, then I think people are going vote for my opponent. If it's going be selected on who's got the best New York accent, then I think I'm probably out too. But I think if it's going be selected on the basis of who can make the best United States senator, I think I'm still in the contest."[9]


The Democratic/Liberal candidate was elected. Campaign help from President Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as the Democratic landslide after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, helped carry Kennedy into office, as Kennedy polled about 1.1 million votes less in New York than Johnson did.

The incumbent Keating was defeated.

1964 New York United States Senate election[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Robert F. Kennedy 3,539,103 49.49% +6.03%
Liberal Robert F. Kennedy 284,646 4.00% -0.91%
Total Robert F. Kennedy 3,823,749 53.47% +5.09%
Republican Kenneth Keating (incumbent) 3,104,056 43.40% -7.35%
Conservative Henry Paolucci 212,216 2.97% +2.97%
Socialist Labor John Emanuel 7,358 0.1% +0.1%
Socialist Workers Richard Garza 4,202 0.06% +0.06%
Total votes 7,151,581 100.00%
Spoilt vote Blank, void, and scattering 152,909

See also


  1. ^ "Senate Candidate Chosen". The New York Times. March 30, 1964. Retrieved April 20, 2020. (subscription required)
  2. ^ "KEATING CHOSEN BY REPUBLICANS IN SHOW OF UNITY; Fino and Other Dissidents Yield to Party Chiefs at State Convention Here". The New York Times. September 1, 1964. Retrieved April 20, 2020. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "PAOLUCCI NAMED BY CONSERVATIVES". The New York Times. September 1, 1964. Retrieved April 20, 2020. (subscription required)
  4. ^ "KENNEDY SWAMPS STRATTON TO WIN STATE NOMINATION; Democrats Name Attorney General, 968 to 153, at a Noisy Convention Here; NOMINEE ANSWERS FOES; He Says New York's First Senator Was an Able Man From Massachusetts; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, a sudden new power in New York politics, won the Democratic nomination for Senator yesterday at one of the most boisterous state conventions ever held here". The New York Times. September 2, 1964. Retrieved April 20, 2020. (subscription required)
  5. ^ "KENNEDY NAMED BY LIBERAL PARTY; Opposition to Candidacy Is Angry, But Scattered; The Liberal party's state convention listened to some angry, but scattered, opposition last night, and then enthusiastically nominated Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for United States Senator". The New York Times. September 2, 1964. Retrieved April 20, 2020. (subscription required)
  6. ^ "Socialist Workers' Petitions Names Negro for President". The New York Times. September 8, 1964. Retrieved April 20, 2020. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Peter J. Crotty (ca. 1910-1992), lawyer, of Buffalo, President of the Buffalo City Council 1948-51, Peter J. Crotty, Democratic Force In Western New York, Dies at 82 in NYT on March 4, 1992
  8. ^ The Carpetbagger, 1964 in NYT on February 23, 1999
  9. ^ "Lessons for Mrs. Clinton from 1964 - June 15, 1999". Cnn.com. June 15, 1999. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  10. ^ "Clerk of the House of Representatives 1964 Election Results Page 30" (PDF).