Historical perspective on nomination numbers

I think many of us were surprised by the LCMS presidential nomination results. I had expected the top two vote getters to be SP Gerald Kieschnick and World Relief and Human Care executive director Matt Harrison. But I thought they’d each get about the same number of votes. I was curious to see which one would have more, but I thought it would be measured in terms of dozens — not hundreds. Over at the LCMSPolitics site, I found these really interesting numbers that put yesterday’s news in historical context.

That site lists the nomination results since 1973 and the numbers tell an interesting story. For instance, the 1332 nominations Harrison received is the most that have ever gone to a non-incumbent. It is also more than President Kieschnick has ever received, even as an incumbent.

On the other hand, the 755 nominations Kieschnick received is, by far, the lowest for an incumbent. You can read the data at the link, but I’ve updated it with more recent elections:

Historical Data on Synod President Nomination and Election since 1973

Breakdown by Synodical Convention of those who received more than 100 nominations, and the results of each election

1973 Convention (New Orleans)
Background: 1973 was the first time that congregations nominated candidates for president, the way we still do it today. It was also the first time that JAO Preus was up for re-election.

JAO Preus: 2,678
Oswald Hoffman: 1,172

Result: Hoffman declined nomination. Preus was elected on the first ballot: (57.4% of total votes)

1977 Convention (Dallas)
JAO Preus: 1625
Charles Mueller, Sr.: 277
Bernthal = 142
Walter A. Maier: 105

Result: Even though Preus had 75% of the nominations, he took 2 fewer votes than required on the first vote, and won on the second vote (55% of total votes)

1981 Convention (St. Louis)
Background: J.A.O. Preus had announced that he would not be running again, things are wide open. And how awesome is it that someone named “Guido” was a contender?

Walter A. Maier: 866
Ralph Bohlmann: 744
Hyatt: 624
Guido Merkens: 486
Robert Sauer: 301
Mueller: 295
Bernthal: 260
Karl Barth: 203
Paul Zimmerman: 153
Arnie Kuntz: 100

Results: Bohlman defeated Mueller on the fourth ballot: 722-388 (65%)

1983 Convention (St. Louis)
Background: Bohlmann was up for re-election for the first time.

Ralph Bohlmann 2,139
Mueller = 171
Walter A. Maier: 157

Results: Bohlmann was elected on the first ballot (78.2%)

1986 Convention (Indianapolis)
Ralph Bohlmann: 1387
Robert Sauer: 604
Walter Maier: 193
George Wollenburg: 155
Robert Preus: 108

Results: Bohlmann was elected on the first ballot: 576-447 (51% of the votes)

1989 Convention (Wichita)
Ralph Bohlmann 1511
Robert Sauer 651
Robert Preus 458
Eugene Bunkowske 393
George Wollenburg 166
August Mennicke 120

Results: Bohlmann was elected on the first ballot: 589-535 (52.4%)

1992 Convention (Pittsburgh)
Alvin Barry: 1310
Ralph Bohlman: 1220
Robert Kuhn: 396
August Mennicke: 124

Result: Barry defeated Bohlman on the fourth ballot: 580-568 (50.5%)

1995 Convention (St. Louis)
Background: Barry was up for re-election for the first time.
Alvin Barry: 2111
Robert Kuhn: 253
Dale Meyer: 114
Ralph Bohlmann: 109

Result: Barry as elected on the first ballot with 754 votes (64.8%)

1998 Convention (St. Louis)
Alvin Barry: 1832
John Johnson: 312
Glenn O’Shoney: 269
Robert Kuhn: 232

Result: Barry was elected on the first ballot with 657 votes (56.6%)

2001 Convention (St. Louis)
Background: Barry died unexpectedly after nomination process had concluded.

Alvin Barry: 1292
Gerald Kieschnick: 605
Donald Muchow: 405
Daniel Preus: 141

Result: Kieschnick won 600 – 582 on the fourth ballot (50.8%)

2004 Convention (St. Louis)
Background: Kieschnick’s first time up for reelection.

Gerald Kieschnick: 1,244
Daniel Preus: 976
Kurt Marquart: 686
Dean Wenthe: 310
William Diekelman: 248
Robert Kuhn: 207
Raymond Hartwig: 138
Vernon Gundermann: 108
Wallace Schulz: 102

Result: Kieschnick elected with 53% of vote

2007 Convention (Houston)
Gerald Kieschnick: 1,055
John Wohlrabe: 607
Wallace Schultz: 526
William Diekelman: 315
Daniel Preus : 145

Result: Kieschnick elected with 52% of the vote

2010 Convention (Houston)
Matthew Harrison: 1,332
Gerald Kieschnick: 755
Herbert Mueller, Jr.: 503
Carl Fickenscher II: 5
Daniel Gard: 3

Result: Will be determined in July at Synodical Convention


Comments

Historical perspective on nomination numbers — 20 Comments

  1. Mollie, thanks for your (as-always) great work collecting this data! I find it interesting that many of the elections have been very close, the majority being won by less than 55-60% of the vote, and half of them by 53% or less. These types of results show quite clearly that there is something less than unity in the organization. I, along with several thousand others, am very anxious to find out the “final outcome” in July.

  2. Mollie:
    The “awesome” Guido probably had the first “church growth” congregation; he was in San Antonio, Texas. Truthfully, I don’t remember the name of it because it was always referred to as “Guido’s”.

  3. Guido Merkens, Jr. (the son) was a back-up quarterback in the NFL for a while too, as I recall. I always liked that name…

  4. The number of nominations versus the percentage of delegates that voted for Preus in 73 is interesting:

    1973 Convention (New Orleans)
    Background: 1973 was the first time that congregations nominated candidates for president, the way we still do it today. It was also the first time that JAO Preus was up for re-election.

    JAO Preus: 2,678
    Oswald Hoffman: 1,172

    Result: Hoffman declined nomination. Preus was elected on the first ballot: (57.4% of total votes)

    With the number of nominations received by Preus, you would think 57.4% was a little low, as the winning ballot.

    And again in 1998:

    1998 Convention (St. Louis)
    Alvin Barry: 1832
    John Johnson: 312
    Glenn O’Shoney: 269
    Robert Kuhn: 232

    Result: Barry was elected on the first ballot with 657 votes (56.6%)

    You would think the ratio of percentage to nominations would be far greater, given that Barry received almost 1500 more nominations than his next highest competitor.

    My point is that the nominations do not reflect the percentage of delegates that actually vote for or against an incombant and the rubber that hits the road are the delegates that actually get elected at the Circuit Forums.

    Jesus First has been very good at this grass root level of getting their quasi-lutheran delegates into the Convention.

    Circuit Forums is where Confessionals need to concentrate on getting faithful Lutherans elected.

  5. @Helen #2
    Two items:
    1. Guido”s church was Concordia and was started on August 23, don’t remember the exact date but I think it was in the ’60’s. He started the church with visitations as it was a mission congregation–he had almost no one when he arrived. He did work tirelessly calling all visitors beginning on Sunday evening and going into Monday if not done on Sunday. He also made sure of the count until the congregation became way too large for him know all those attending. His book “Creative Church Management” you might say was church growth before church growth. It should also be noted that, and I believe this is correct, while he was the pastor his name was on the stationary alone. THey had visitation pastors who only visited, counseling pastors who only counseled. He always worked with vicars and was allowed to interview them before receiving them. As far as I know he never missed preaching at his own church even during a convention and while he was a VP. His vicars had to be excellent students with an “A” average as well as being athletic.
    2. While his son may have been listed as a backup quarter back I believe he played wide out for Bum Philips of the Houston Oilers. That he played for Bum is certain. Also, Guido was asked to be the team chaplain. Guido was a large man who had a commanded presence.

    That is all that I can remember from my days living in Texas as a growing up and with one congregation.

  6. @Deacon Brian Hughes #4

    It all depends on who is elected as delegate–just because churches put forth certain nominations doesn’t mean the delegates will adhere to them. Hopefully this year is different.

    And thank you Mollie for the statistics; this makes me look forward to July all the more.

  7. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Guido Merkens Date of birth: August 14, 1955 (1955-08-14) (age 54)
    Place of birth: San Antonio, Texas
    Career information
    Position(s): Cornerback
    College: Sam Houston State
    Organizations
    As player:
    1978-1980
    1980-1985
    1987 Houston Oilers
    New Orleans Saints
    Philadelphia Eagles
    Playing stats at NFL.com
    Guido Albert Merkens, Jr. (born August 14, 1955 in San Antonio, Texas) is a former professional American football player who played quarterback, wide receiver, punter and cornerback for nine seasons for the Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL. He was also a kick and punt return specialist.

    In Houston during the 1970s, playing primarily on special teams, his penchant for being the emergency backup for all of the aforementioned positions earned him the popular aphorism “Jack of all trades; Master of none.”

    During the second season of the TV show “Chuck” on NBC, the episode “Chuck versus the DeLorean” first broadcast on December 8, 2008 mentioned Merkens when John Casey (Adam Baldwin) states that Sarah’s dad (played by Gary Cole) has checked into a hotel under the alias “Guido Merkens

  8. other variables –
    1) delegates were selected in October, Presidential nominations were not due until November
    2) they were elected by two entirely different groups of “voters”
    3) voters meetings pretty well know (or ask) about the presidential candidates – circuit forums (mine anyway) only asked who was available to make the trip to Houston. No idea where the potential delegates stood on issues, candidates, etc

    IOW – there may or may not be any correlation between nominations and delegate votes.

    grace and peace

  9. jim_claybourn :
    other variables –
    1) delegates were selected in October, Presidential nominations were not due until November
    2) they were elected by two entirely different groups of “voters”
    3) voters meetings pretty well know (or ask) about the presidential candidates – circuit forums (mine anyway) only asked who was available to make the trip to Houston. No idea where the potential delegates stood on issues, candidates, etc
    IOW – there may or may not be any correlation between nominations and delegate votes.
    grace and peace

    oops, I meant March, not November for the nominations

  10. We are praying for Matt Harrison at our household. He will make a great president because his heart and mind are in the right place for advancing true confessional Lutheranism. The road ahead will be rough for him and his family if he is elected but he knows who will be traveling with him. Praise God.

  11. Anyone named Guido automatically gets my vote over Karl Barth any day of the week.

  12. Hmmmmm….
    2010 Convention (Houston)
    Matthew Harrison: 1,332
    Gerald Kieschnick: 755

    I know it’s not biblical, and perhaps a bit cheeky, but I can’t help but think of the song:

    Na na na na
    Na na na na
    Hey hey,
    Goodbye.

    The next thing ya know will be that the FCC has denied the transfer of the KFUO license (I pray)!
    May God rule in our church and hearts, and give us wise leaders who know and do His will!

  13. Ok, I’m getting a little off topic, but I feel the need to make amends. Speaking of songs, I can’t help but think of another – not so cheeky at all – hymn that has become one of my favorites in the LSB (646). The combination of text and music is glorious! Does anyone else know it?

    Church of God, elect and glorious,
    Holy nation, chosen race;
    Called as God’s own special people,
    Royal priests and heirs of grace;
    Know the purpose of your calling,
    Show to all His mighty deeds;
    Tell of love that know no limits,
    Grace that meets all human needs.

    God has called you out of darkness,
    Into His most marv’lous light;
    Brought His truth to life within you,
    Turned your blindness into sight.
    Let your light so shine around you
    That God’s name is glorified;
    And all find fresh hope and purpose
    In Christ Jesus crucified.

    Once you were an alien people,
    Strangers to God’s heart of Love;
    But He brought you home in mercy,
    Citizens of heav’n above.
    Let His love flow out to others,
    Let them feel a Father’s care;
    That they too may know His welcome
    And His countless blessings share.

    Church of God, elect and holy,
    Be the people He intends;
    Strong in faith and swift to answer
    Each command your master sends;
    Royal priests, fulfill your calling
    Through your sacrifice and prayer;
    Give your lives in joyful service —
    Sing His praise, His love declare.

  14. Very interesting and encouraging numbers. One thing to notice is that the Confessionals are united behind Rev Harrison, which is a very good sign. The nominations in 2007, for Confessionals, were only 54 votes short of Harrison’s total this year. This unity needs to carryover into the convention. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot again as we did in 2001. In the voting in 2001, in the first ballot, we had enough votes at coonvention to elect a Confessional. Unfortunately, we could not unite behind the leading candidate, Daniel Preus, to win. And that brings us to where we are today.

  15. Keep in mind that if a particular election doesn’t reach a 4th ballot, we don’t *necessarily* get a true picture of the winner’s *total* support amongst the delegates. In ’04, for example, Kieschnick won on the first ballot, but Diekelman was on that ballot. Presumably, all his votes (in that instance, not very many, to be sure) would have gone his way. The same may be true for 1998, where any votes cast for Bob Kuhn would almost certainly have gone for Al Barry and given him (probably fairly significantly) more than 56%. This suggests that in 1995, for instance, the convention may well have been nearly unanimous in its real support for Al Barry. Look at the other names on the ballot, and aside from Bohlmann, there’s no strong nominations support for men clearly opposed to Barry.

    Oh, and in 2001, Mr. Breitbarth, for what it’s worth, *as I recall* (i.e., my recollection could be in error, but I am pretty sure), the good Pastor Preus (Daniel) was more than graciously willing to stand for 1st VP primarily, and have Pres. Wenthe as the primary confessional candidate for Pres. The unanticipated thing was that a handful of Hartwig’s 80 votes switched over on the 2nd ballot to Kieschnick, eventually giving him the win on the 4th.
    So I’d slightly amend your statement to “we could not totally unite behind one main candidate to win.”
    In 2004, we were not entirely united, again–this time, there were a few who pushed Wally Schulz and Kurt Marquart over Daniel Preus. The sad thing is that in both instances, as far as I know, *none* of these good men had any serious qualms about any of the other good men. Wenthe would have been happy to have Preus as Pres., and vice versa. Marquart and Schulz would have been happy to have Preus as Pres., and the other two ways, too.
    Thanks be to God that we have *one* clear candidate this time. (We had one in ’07, too. Pr. Wohlrabe would have been an excellent Syn. Pres., too. It just wasn’t “Time”, yet, I guess.)

  16. Neal Breitbarth wrote:

    “The nominations in 2007, for Confessionals, were only 54 votes short of Harrison’s total this year.”

    Well, it is true that if you add the votes for the top “confessional” candidates, you’d see a tally not far from Harrison’s.

    However, congregations are permitted to vote for **two** candidates for SP — and I’m sure most did.

    So Harrison’s nomination is that much more newsworthy, actually. I’d say he actually doubled the support. And what’s interesting about that is that it likely means that a lot of formerly Kieschnick-nominating congregations have been persuaded by the “It’s Time” message.

  17. Mollie and Pr Mueller, thank you for your comments. I am very glad that the results look to bode well for confessionals. I pray that we will be united in Houston and that lead to the election of Harrison. I really feel we blew a great chance we had 2001 by not uniting behind a single candidate, either Wenthe or Preus. Another thing that I think helps us this year is the general climate in our country of being dismayed with incumbents.

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