Hello nouwen27-ga and thanks for the interesting question.
I've read quite a bit by Gareth Evans and one thing that always struck
me were his colorful examples. He continues in a long tradition of
philosophical literature by figuring politicians and current events
into his examples. In an argument against treating definite
descriptions as referring expressions, Evans provides the example, "If
Haldeman had released the information to the reporters, he would have
been Deep Throat." _Varieties of Reference_ p.60
Back to your question: The sentence you discuss undoubtedly refers to
Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy. 1980 was a difficult year for Kennedy.
After several years as a senator, Ted ran for president in 1980 but
did not receive the democratic nomination. He lost the nomination to
the incumbent Jimmy Carter who would subsequently lose to Republican
Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential election.
In addition to losing the bid for the democratic nomination in 1980,
Ted Kennedy also was involved in the incident at Chappaquiddick in
1969. Kennedy was driving with a campaign staffer, Mary Jo Kopechne,
on Chappaquiddick Island after an event at which he had been drinking.
Both were involved in a car accident when the car went over a bridge.
Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in the incident and Ted Kennedys involvement
has been the source of much controversy.
Ted Kennedy's 1980 campaign also suffered from a great deal of bad
press. At one point during the campaign, Kennedy referred the Shah of
Iran's government as "one of the most violent regimes in the history
of mankind." This led some to the impression that Kennedy was siding
with the Iranian militants who had taken American hostages in 1979.
The second and most damaging public blunder occurred when Ted Kennedy
appeared in an interview on CBS television with reporter Roger Mudd.
Mudd asked Kennedy questions about the Chappaquiddick incident and
Kennedy was evasive and stumbled over his words. Also when asked, "why
do you want to be president?" Kennedy seemed totally incoherent and
Many commentators point to this CBS interview as the most damaging
moment of Ted Kennedy's 1980 campaign. After the interview, Kennedy
dropped substantially in the polls and Carter won the first ballot
confirmation. Kennedy has never since run for President but continues
as an influential Senator in the U.S. Congress.
Evans' example in the 1980 paper ("Pronouns"?) in _Linguistic Inquiry_
most likely refers to Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy and his notorious
botched campaign for presidency. After is public blunder on CBS in
1980 it was likely that he wasnt admired by many of his fellow
senators, even those junior to him.
For more info on Sen. Ted Kennedy and the 1980 presidential election,
consult the following links:
Senator Kennedy's webpage
Essay on Ted Kennedy: "Kennedy: The restless lion of the Senate"
By Betsy Rothstein
More info on chappaquiddick from jackolsen.com
Ted Kennedy's address to the Democratic National Convention, 1980
ted kennedy 1980 campaign
edward kennedy 180 campaign
kennedy "roger mudd"
kennedy carter campaign 1980
Best of luck!