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Albert Gates

Chicago Primary Candidates Avoid Main Issues

(February 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 5, 4 February 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

CHICAGO, Ill. – Another primary contest to select mayoralty candidates representing the two major parties is under way here.

The democratic nomination is being contested by Mayor Edward J. Kelly, co-leader of the Cook County machine, and Thomas J. Courtney, present state s attorney, erstwhile aid of the Horner down-state machine, and the darling of the Chicago Daily News and the “better” business elements.

The “regular” candidate for the Republican nomination is Dwight Green, young, vigorous, and the “Young Republicans” man. Big Bill Thompson, denied the “regular” nomination, is running as an independent. He has his own machine, so many times routed but never destroyed.

“Draft Ickes” Campaign

A “draft Ickes” campaign threatened for a time to complicate the primaries. Chicago’s perennial political reformers, Professors Merriam and Paul Douglas, began the Ickes boom in much the manner of the first LaGuardia fusion campaign. They rallied all the Chicago liberals and their movement grew daily.

The Stalinists and their mouthpiece, the Chicago Daily Record (pronounced “Wrecker” in many places), became at once the most active drafters. The paper carried daily dispatches from Washington on the latest doings of Honest Harold, as true a liberal as ever graced God’s country, and certainly the equal of LaGuardia.

But – Ickes refused to run. Roosevelt demanded his presence in Washington; he could not be spared in this critical period for the Roosevelt administration.

What About Programs?

Programs are of little importance in the race. Kelly speaks of increasing government costs, and praises his administration for keeping such costs to a minimum. Efficiency, honesty, and above all return “services” – an economy candidate.

Courtney is for low-cost city government. A crusader against the gangster and the gambler, he has been hacking away at gambling joints for almost a year. As state’s attorney, he already has a powerful machine behind him. Unfortunately for him, however, his downstate allies and his Cook County friends cannot help in this local election. Governor Horner, head of the state machine, is conveniently ill, and has been silent about the primaries. And Courtney needs his aid!

Dwight Green also demands honest government, an economical administration. He too is an ardent crusader against crime. He stands as the man who put Capone behind bars, having been federal district prosecutor during the Capone trials.

Big Bill Thompson is against all the machines, especially the Republican machine which prevented his nomination. He stands for economy in city government, and for an unrelenting war against crime. Like the others, he promises to take politics out of the school. The humor in this threat lies in that not so long ago, when Big Bill was mayor, the school treasuries were found to have been looted.

But, above all, he is the man of the people. Big Bill is only for a defensive war, consequently he is sponsoring an anti-war referendum which would prevent Con-

gress from voting on entering a foreign war. But his main trouble is that he cannot be heard. The press is deliberately silent on the doings of Thompson. It will remain so until the campaign actually gets started, for once it begins he will be smeared as richly as he deserves.

What About Relief?

None of the candidates has a statement to make on the issues that really concern the Chicago workers. Relief, W.P.A., the sales tax, the right to picket, the right to organize in unions without police interference, are not so much as mentioned by these advocates of good city government.

Kelly is head of the administration which is responsible for the Memorial Day Massacre. A local politician, with a nominal salary, he owns a $50,000 Florida home, an Eagle River estate worth more than that, and a large Chicago home.

Courtney has with impunity raided union offices, fought the C.I.O., and was part and parcel of the local administration until he joined the Horner forces in the 1938 elections. His aide-de-camp,

Captain Jack Gilbert, of the Chicago police force, has just been indicted in the Milk Trust cases, and is a well-known labor-baiter. Big Bill’s reputation is too well-known to need much comment. Corrupt to the core, he is regarded as a poor fourth in the campaign, and yet he may become the surprise candidate.

Green is typical of the resurgent Republicans. A complete reactionary – he stands for cutting relief rolls, and slicing relief.

The Stalinists have withdrawn their candidate. They are committed to supporting the Democratic party, but are writing critical editorials about Courtney. Conclusion: they will support Kelly! Did he not attempt to settle the stockyards strike peacefully? The Memorial Day massacre was the result of a little flat-foot enthusiasm for which Kelly must not be held responsible. After all, they were defending property, and the Stalinists are now firm defenders of private property.

The Chicago section of the Illinois Labor Party has not yet announced its position.

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