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Albert Gates

Illinois C.P. Backs Kelly’s Man for Senate

Apes Labor Non-Partisan League in Democratic Primary Fight

(April 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 17, 23 April 1938, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

CHICAGO. – The Democratic Party put on another show in the Chicago and Illinois primaries which were completed April 12, holding the stage from the first day of the campaign to the last – much to the discomfiture of the Republicans who sought to recoup their losses as a result of the sharp inner-party struggle that invaded the Democratic organisation.

No one paid much attention to the campaign of the Republicans. The real circus was elsewhere.

Democrats Split

Just as in the 1936 presidential elections, the Democratic Party was split between the down-state machine, with Governor Henry Horner at its head, and the Chicago machine directed by those two, notorious political gangsters, Mayor Edward Kelly and National Committeeman Nash.

The struggle between these factions, originating in the Cermak area, came to a head following Cermak’s death, when the Chicago machine sought unsuccessfully to eliminate Horner, running for a second term as governor in 1936. But when the elections took place, the two machines united to defeat the Republicans. The struggle soon began to revive, however, and the old line-ups were re-established. The Kelly-Nash machine was determined to avenge its defeat in 1936 and Horner and his down-state machine were equally determined to take over control of the Democratic Party.

Scene of Struggle

Thus the 1938 Democratic primaries became a scene of violent struggle. Kelly-Walsh sought the removal of the incumbent County Judge Jarecki in order to insure elections in the future by controlling the ballot boxes and at the same time retain their leadership of the party. They nominated Judge John Prystalski against Jarecki, principally because his Polish name would run well against Jarecki, also a Pole. For the United States Senate, the Kelly-Nash machine nominated Michael L. Igoe, the U.S. District Attorney. Horner nominated Scott Lucas, Legionaire and down-stater. Lesser posts were also divided between the two factions, but not so sharply, and in many respects there was complete agreement as to candidates.

The show was on! Igoe, identifying himself with the Kelly-Nash machine, lost his opportunity of nomination. He stood well in the party, down-state and in Chicago. He had what is generally considered a good labor record. Lucas was a down-stater, an organizer of the American Legion, not always certain in his support of Roosevelt, a small-time rah-rah boy. But he was not a Kelly-Nash man, and the Kelly-Nash machine is a discredited machine.

Mud-slinging Match

Both sides entered the campaign with the slogans: Against Bossism! For Roosevelt! They heaped insults upon each other. They accused each other of the vilest sins, of graft, bureaucracy, bossism, machinism. They delved into each others’ personal history and went into the field of psychoanalysis.

Sectionalism played a strong part in the campaign. Chicago already had a senator and it was wrong to have two senators from Chicago, said Horner. It was a matter of ability, pointed out the Kelly-Nash adherents. Courtney, the labor-hater, wanted to insure an “honest” election, but Kelly’s police commissioner took Courtney’s personal police from him because they were needed to “guard” the ballot boxes! Jarecki declared that he was rejected by Kelly-Nash because he would not resort to stealing election’s. Prystalski, his opponent, called Jarecki dishonest and charged him with cheating the local government out of well-earned property tax monies.

In the midst of this great battle inside the Democratic Party, there entered two outside forces. They arrived late on the scene, but not too late to do their filthy bit in deluding the voters of the state that in this struggle over spoils within the Democratic Party, a rehearsal of the struggle between fascism and democracy, progress and reaction was being fought.

The Communist Party and Labor’s Non-Partisan League entered into the campaign with great vigor. The old Gompers practice of “rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies,” by which means the American Federation of Labor confused its members and tied them to the tails of both capitalist parties, was here changed only in words. Now, the candidates supported by Labor’s Non-Partisan League and the Communist Party were labor’s choice based upon the support of progressive candidates as against reactionaries!

Only One Dilemma

Labor’s Non-Partisan League came out in support of Igoe as senator, on the theory that he was and is a friend of a labor, a progressive candidate. There was only one dilemma to be explained away: He was the candidate of the Kelly-Nash machine which distinguished itself in the massacre of the steel strikers last Memorial Day. On the other side, they supported Jarecki because he was “honest and clean” and opposed the Kelly-Nash machine. They picked various “progressives” for other state and local posts, notwithstanding their machine affiliations. By and large, the majority of the candidates were old-time ward heelers, party hacks, professional job-holders, whose prime interest in politics is the spoils to be gained.

But Labor’s Non-Partisan League was outdone by the Communist Party. If ever a party pretending to be a revolutionary party, a workers’ party, played a foul and traitorous role, it was the Communist Party. It entered into the primaries as if the candidates were nominated at a C.P. convention. And well they might have been. The Mid-West Daily Record, one of the three sectional newspapers of the C.P. issued to help propagate its new reformist and anti-revolutionary ideas became the mouthpiece for Igoe, Jarecki, and a host of others. Sympathizers (it is rumored even members) of the C.P. entered the primaries to help make the fight a political one and to elect progressive candidates. The Record carried a daily box indicating “labor’s choice”! But the C.P. was also in a quandary. Igoe, the “progressive” candidate, the true Rooseveltian, was taken in by Kelly-Nash. The only thing wrong with Igoe was that he ran on the Kelly-Nash ticket. They supported him, nevertheless. They supported Jarecki and the other “anti-Kelly progressives.” But they also supported the Kelly-Nash judiciary candidates! But, you see, only “the most progressive.”

C.P. Opposes Lucas

The C.P. carried on a vigorous campaign against Scott Lucas, as senator, on the ground that he was an “isolationist” candidate, and not a genuine Roosevelt supporter. He was opposed, at least so he declared, to any foreign war, and would not vote to budget a single penny to send our boys to a foreign country to engage in war!

In an editorial on April 9, the Record declared:

“If you are for President Roosevelt’s progressive policies, you will vote for Michael L. Igoe.

“If you are against the progressive features of the Roosevelt program, you will vote for Scott W. Lucas ... On Tuesday, the Democratic voters have no cause to be deceived as to how they should cast their ballot for the senatorship.”

When this editorial appeared, Lucas charged that Igoe was being supported by the Communist Party and that Browder so declared in a Chicago speech. The C.P. denied that Browder made such a statement. Budenz declared that the Record had incorrectly reported Browder’s speech. Morris Childs, the state secretary of the C.P. made similar denials.

However, on April 9, the Record carried an interview with Childs, in which he gave the reasons for supporting, together with Labor’s Non-Partisan League, Igoe and Jarecki. He termed Lucas the arch enemy, and went on to say:

“The Chief Task”

“Real revolutionists (!) must take the lead in influencing people, in organizing them and leading them in the fight against the camp of reaction, keeping in mind that the chief task is to defeat fascism. In line with the policy of our party, we are already fully entered in the election campaign, supporting and endorsing candidates who stand for democracy and peace, who will fight for the needs of the people, in cooperation with other progressive forces and groups in the state.”

In the Illinois Workers Alliance a motion to support Igoe-Jarecki and other Democratic candidates was introduced by the C.P. leader Foley. This motion was defeated due to the fact that the I.W.A. is affiliated with the Labor Party of Illinois.

Following the primaries in which Lucas and Jarecki, along with the majority of Horner candidates won out, the Record hailed their victories, with one exception. The C.P. deplored the defeat of Igoe and alibied it on the grounds of his association with the Kelly-Nash machine. In its editorial of April 14, entitled Ballots vs. Bosses, the Record rejoiced over the defeat of Kelly-Nash and the great achievement of L.N.P.L. in supporting so many winning candidates.

Divided Victory

Aside from the leading posts, the victors were equally divided between Horner and Kelly men. L.N.P.L. and the C.P. supported indiscriminately the machine men of both camps.

With the primaries concluded, everyone points to the elections in the Fall. Already, Big Jim Farley is coming to Illinois to unite the party for the Fall elections. “Party unity” may be achieved. Although the elections marked the decline of the Kelly-Nash machine, they are not out by a long shot. There is plenty of life in a machine that controls almost a million voters in the Chicago area. Unity will be achieved to put over the entire Democratic slate against the Republicans.

What will the C.P. and L.N.P.L. do in the Fall? It is not hard to guess. They will support the “reactionaries” on the ticket along with the “progressives,” in order to “defeat the forces of fascism in the guise of the Republican Party.” Unless, of course, the C.P. suffers another change of line, which seems hardly likely. Its course is charted ever more to the right.

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