1950 – Richard Nixon elected to the US Senate

It’s commonly believed that this is where Nixon got his start in politics, but in fact he was a member of Congress (representing the California 12th) from 1946 to 1950. But by 1950, he’d made enough of an impact in California to secure the Republican nomination to run for the Senate.

His Democratic opponent was left-leaning Helen Gahagan Douglas, who was widely derided as an actess with no business in the serious world of politics despite having spent more years in Congress than Nixon had. Nixon won comfortably, but even in her defeat, Gahagan had the last laugh: she it was who bestowed upon Nixon his nickname of “Tricky Dick”, which would dog him for the rest of his career (and indeed, in the wake of Watergate, seem rather prophetic).

Referenced in:

We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel