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Born in Chicago, Illinois, to Josephine and Edward Bender, he was a lifelong resident of his native city. Bender was an entrepreuer in the areas of hotel and music store management. He was also a prize fighter.
Bender is perhaps best known for his three bids for Republican Party Presidential nomination in the elections of 1944, 1948 and 1952. In all three occasions he appeared only in his native Illinois ballot.
Although he was never a major candidate in these races, he won the 1948 Illinois primary in a landslide, with 96.90% (324,029) of votes against Douglas MacArthur (6,672 votes and 2.00%) and other well-known figures such as Harold Stassen, Thomas E. Dewey and Robert A. Taft, though only Bender was on the ballot as the rest were write-in votes. 
Illinois Republican presidential primary, 1944
Illinois Republican presidential primary, 1948
This gave Riley 11.34% of all primary votes
Illinois Republican presidential primary, 1952