Sen. John F. Kennedy

Twin Falls attorney and Twin Falls County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Thomas Frank Alworth, center, enjoys the company of U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts and Senate-hopeful Frank Church from Idaho during a 1956 fundraiser at the Turf Club in Twin Falls. Kennedy, who was elected president 5 years later, came to town to support Church in his second run for Senate seat. Church, 32, was elected that year and served until 1981.

COURTESY PHOTO

Judie House was only 9 years old in 1956 when her father, Twin Falls County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Tom Alworth, ran for Idaho attorney general.

Although he lost the election, the year remained an important one for Alworth: He hosted an Oct. 22 visit to Twin Falls by two political giants.

That year, Frank Church won the nomination for U.S. senator on the Democratic ticket, and U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts came to Twin Falls that summer to raise support for Church’s campaign.

Church had run in 1952, but lost to long-time Republican Sen. Herman Welker, who was so closely tied to to Sen. Joseph McCarthy and “McCarthyism” that he was often referred to by Senate colleagues as “Little Joe from Idaho.”

Church and Kennedy spoke to crowds at City Park and at the Roxy Theater, then attended a luncheon at the Turf Club. House’s mother, Dorothy Doss Alworth, sat with Kennedy.

“After the event, Kennedy came out and spent the rest of the day at the Alworth Ranch, north of Curry,” said House, office coordinator for the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Church won the election, and he and Kennedy served together in the Senate until Kennedy won the presidential election in 1960.

“My dad was kind of special,” House said. “When my father passed in 1959 John Kennedy sent my mother roses.”

In 1976, Church sought the Democratic nomination for president and won primaries in Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon and Montana. To date, he remains the only Idahoan to win a major-party presidential primary election. Church, who attended House’s wedding in 1968, served in the Senate until losing to Steve Symms in 1980.

Mychel Matthews reports on rural issues and agriculture for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com or call her at 208-735-3233.

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