by B. J. Hollars
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2024
Paper: 978-1-9766-0017-3 | eISBN: 978-1-9766-0018-0
Library of Congress Classification JK2075.W62
Dewey Decimal Classification 324.2775015409

The behind-the-scenes story of JFK’s 1960 Wisconsin primary campaign

When John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he did something no candidate had done before: he leveraged the power of state primaries to win his party’s nomination. Kennedy’s first battleground state? Wisconsin—a state that would prove more arduous, more exhausting, and more crucial to winning the presidency than any other. 

Wisconsin for Kennedy brings to life the stories behind JFK’s history-making 1960 Wisconsin primary campaign, and how Kennedy’s team managed to outmaneuver his politically seasoned opponent, Hubert Humphrey. From Jackie Kennedy commandeering a supermarket loudspeaker in Kenosha, to the Wisconsin forklift driver who planned President Kennedy’s final trip to Dallas, this captivating book places readers at the heart of the action.

Author B.J. Hollars chronicles JFK’s nail-biting Wisconsin win by drawing on rarely cited oral histories from the eclectic team of people who worked together to make it happen: a cranberry farmer, a union leader, a mayor, an architect, and others. Wisconsin for Kennedy explores how Wisconsin helped propel JFK all the way to the White House in a riveting historical account that reads like a work of rollicking, page-turning fiction. 

“In the spirit of Theodore H. White’s The Making of The President: 1960, B.J. Hollars offers a vivid account of the Wisconsin primary that launched JFK’s successful presidential campaign, inspiring voters to pass the torch to a new generation of leadership for our country. Anyone mesmerized by JFK’s legacy will enjoy this great read.”
—Former US Representative Ron Kind 

“For generations, my family has had the great privilege of serving the people of Wisconsin. In Wisconsin for Kennedy, B.J. Hollars performs his own act of service, recounting the riveting and untold story of Wisconsin’s politically perilous 1960 primary. A poignant contribution to political history that reads like a page-turner.” 
—Former Wisconsin Governor James Doyle Jr.