Edit ModuleShow Tags

Election Oddities


Published:

(page 1 of 3)

The year was 1910. Few of California’s 58 counties had surfaced roads. It was easier to get your horse shod than to find a gas station. Yet the Republican candidate for governor that year carried his campaign to every hamlet aboard a bright red “Locomobile.”

Hiram Johnson’s hard-won victory made political history. His subsequent reforms—the initiative, referendum and recall, plus removal of party labels in local elections—broke Southern Pacific Railroad’s longtime grip on our state government. Johnson was California’s first politician of national importance, the governor against whom successors would be measured.

His election is remembered also for causing a lasting family rift. The new governor’s father, Grove Johnson, had long been Southern Pacific’s wheelhorse in the legislature, and he saw his son’s stance as a personal betrayal. Years later, after Hiram joined Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose revolt, old Grove remained unforgiving, saying, “Let this prodigal son eat of the fatted calf of repentance.” The two never reconciled.

From such beginnings evolved California’s tradition for election oddities. As when, back in 1962, Congressman Clem Miller was reelected although dead two weeks on Election Day.

Or in 1918, when a Johnson reform called “cross-filing” first failed us. This rule permitted candidates to seek partisan nomination on more than one ticket—an incumbent’s dream. The legislature became a repository for political eunuchs the harem found it couldn’t be rid of. (In 1940, two of every five state senators and 80 percent of the Assembly were elected as both Democrats and Republicans in the June primary!)

Cross-filing had an even nuttier side. San Francisco’s Republican mayor, James (“Sunny Jim”) Rolph, won the 1918 Democratic primary for governor while running second in his own party. Under the law, he was barred from the November ballot—and waited another dozen years to become governor.

Depression-era 1934, the first midterm election for Franklin Roosevelt, proved a glory time for New Deal Democrats—everywhere but California. Here, establishment forces ganged up on the “Sunkist utopian” nominee for governor, Upton Sinclair. Theater newsreels, a staple of pre-television times, showed fake footage of hobos riding the rails into California, proclaiming their intent to freeload off Sinclair’s promised bounty. The hoax worked, and he lost.

But 1934 also witnessed what may be the strangest triumph ever of a dark horse for any office. The locale was downtown Los Angeles, in an Assembly district long represented by cross-filing Republican Clair Woolwine. The fate visited on this legislator foreshadowed the clout that came to be wielded by lobbyist Artie Samish, “the secret boss of California.”

Something Woolwine had done offended one of Samish’s brewery clients, who insisted on fielding a candidate against him. Samish instructed one of his minions, a Bill Jasper, to find some sacrificial lamb from within a populace consisting mainly of winos or others down on their luck.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

San Diego's Best Beer 2016

In the past year, San Diego added nearly two dozen new breweries, bringing its current total to a whopping 121

Dancing Queen

Ariana Gonzalez takes the stage as the female lead in City Ballet of San Diego's Romeo and Juliet

San Diego’s Coolest Companies

If a job is essential, let’s make it enjoyable. Welcome to working in the 21st century
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego's Next Hot Neighborhoods
    Where everyone will be living in 2016
  2. Best of North County Party 2016
    The Best of North County Party gathers top restaurants, breweries and businesses for one epic evening of North County all-stars.
  3. The Noisy Restaurant Epidemic
    Notice a volume spike in restaurants lately? There are so many reasons today's restaurants are louder than ever. Award-winning architect Matthew Ellis explains.
  4. Goodnight, Claire de Lune
    For 19 years, Claire de Lune was the come-as-you-are cultural hangout for North Park. Today it closes. Owner Claire Magner looks back.
  5. The Best of North County 2016
    There’s never been a better time to experience NoCo’s charms
  6. Get Outside: 15 Outdoor Challenges
    Take your workouts to new heights and lengths with our list of San Diego’s best hikes, bike paths, and swims
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

The Inaugural Breakthrough Biomedical Philanthropy Forum

Sponsored by the Salk Institute

“Will You Marry Me”?

Sharon Jenks, CEO of 6 Degrees, on building business relationships

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags