Ray Bliss subject of book by former DDN reporter

Ray Bliss, GOP Chairman, 1967
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Ray Bliss, GOP Chairman, 1967

When Ray C. Bliss took over as national chairman of the Republican Party in 1965, the GOP was in a shambles.

The previous year, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson sent the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, to an historic defeat. Some even questioned whether the GOP was dead a little more than 100 years after its birth.

Yet, under Bliss’s leadership, the party rebounded and won the presidency just four years later. How Bliss helped orchestrate this turnaround is the subject of “Mr. Chairman: The Life and Times of Ray C. Bliss,” co-authored by former Dayton Daily News reporter William L. Hershey.

The book was just released and Hershey, along with his co-author, John C. Green, will appear at a number of book signings over the next few weeks, including at 11 a.m., Nov. 15, in the Map Room of the Ohio Statehouse.

Also, Hershey and Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, will be among the authors featured at the 40th annual National Press Club Book Fair and Authors Night Nov. 10 at the National Press Club in Washington.

Bliss is an institution in Ohio Republican political circles, but his influence is largely unknown to a broader audience. As Hershey and Green point out in the book, Bliss wasn’t flamboyant and had no interest in self-promotion.

“The bespectacled Bliss — plump and shy, his once-auburn hair turned gray, slicked back and parted slightly to the left of center — looked like the Akron insurance man that he was,” the authors write.

Hershey covered politics in Washington, D.C., for the Akron Beacon Journal before joining the Dayton Daily News as its Columbus bureau chief. The book is published by the University of Akron.

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