Tuesday, November 09, 1999


Draft Kinsol May 16 1996

LOOKING BACK by Wally Dobelis
The Democratic Reform Movement
While browsing through the new Encyclopedia of New York City, it came to my mind that an important portion of history needs documenting - the system of political clubs, District Leaders, and the reform movement that broke the hold of Tammany over Democratic politics. This is an anecdotal bits and pieces history, some from my own fun days as a member of the late maverick Murray Hill Reform Democratic Club, helped along by the incredibly detailed recollections of Charles Kinsolving, some from the memories of people whom you will recognize as we move along.
Kinsolving dates the early start of reform variously to 1946, or, more likely, to 1949 when Courtland Nichols ran for the Assembly with the aid of various mainstream Penn and Columbia Law graduates. It grew stronger in 1951, when Vincent M.Impelitteri was Mayor and Carmine de Sapio (1908-) chaired the New York County Democratic organization, still known as Tammany Hall, even though the 17th Street wigwam had been sold to the ILGWU in 1943, to pay off debts. Impelitteri became acting Mayor upon the resignation of William O'Dwyer, who had been tainted by evidence during the prosecution of Brooklyn bookmaker Harry Gross, and opted out, in favor of an Ambassadorship to Mexico.The Democratic organization was slowly recovering from the lean Laguardia mayorality years (1933-45), and DeSapio was friendly with the reformers, a loose group of war veterans interested in participatory politics and Fair Deal Democrats (Fair Deal was President Harry S. Truman's social program that included aid to education, slum clearance, low-cost public housing and an unsuccessful attempt to repeal the Taft-Hartley Labor Act.) DeSapio himself was a sort of reformer,having been elected County Leader in 1949, after years of battling the Irish establishment.
In 1951, the reform groundswell managed to elect several of their district leaders. With DeSapio's help, in 1953 the reformers also managed to change the election rules, from indirect election of DLs ( who were up to then elected by county committeemen), to direct, through the ballot box. DeSapio gained Reform credentials when in 1953 he, the first Italian county leader, tried eliminating Burt Stand, an Irish business-as-usual Tammany officer, Treasurer of the democratic County Executive Committee. The story is that he was material in the founding of the Tilden, now Tilden Midtown Democratic Club. In 1954 he actually selected several Liberal progressives - Robert F. Wagner Jr. (1910-91) for Mayor who beat Impelliteri, and W.Averell Harriman ( ) for Governor, who beat Republican Kenneth B.Keating from Rochester (in 1958 he lost to Nelson A. Rockefeller, because Harriman would not return calls from Dorothy Schiff, the then most powerful New York Post owner/publisher, and she endorsed his opponent).The reformers broke with DeSapio in 1958, when former Gov., then Sen. Herbert H. Lehman (1878-1963) became too sick to continue running for Senate, and DeSapio at the Buffalo Democratic Convention selected New York City's DA Frank Hogan, over Thomas E. Murray, of the Atomic Energy Commission, and Thomas K. Finletter, former Secretary of the Air Force. Julius C.C.Edelstein, Lehman's team leader, saw it as treason (Edelstein was later head of the Liberal caucus in the US Senate) Hogan was a bad campaigner and lost the election to the Republican Keating, who subsequently lost to Robert F Kennedy, in 1964. DeSapio also backed Arrthur Levitt in the Democratic primaries of 1961 against Wagner, causing further Reform ire. On his home grounds, in Greenwich Village, DeSapio tried to counter the locale revolt against his Tamawa Club, in 1960, by running two Reformers, Charles Kinsolving and Eleanor Clark French, as his candidates for the Democratic State Committe, but they lost against the young Greenwich Village Independents. The VIDs had their revenge, by electing James Lanigan and Carol Greitzer as District Leaders over DeSapio in 1961, when the New York Times ran an 8-column banner headline proclaiming the Wagner and Lanigan victories. Lanigan lost favor by immediately declaring himself a candidate for county leadership, so says Edward I. Koch (1924-), then VID president. Koch won the District Leader designation, beating off De Sapio's challenges, in 1963 and 1965, and the courtly Bishop (or Chief), having lost his county office along with his DL position in 1961, finally had to retire. (The county leadership, variously contested by Edward Kostikyan and Raymond Jones, went to xxCavanagh). A book by Edmonde Charles-Roux, correspondent of the French Vogue in New York, To Forget Palermo, is thought to be a roman-a-clef about DeSapio. It was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1956.
The county leadership eventually went to Frank Rosetti, who continued until 1977, when Mayor Koch replaced him with the VID leader Miriam Bachman (who replaced Carol Greitzer when Carol was elected to the City Council), subsequently Ed Kostykian. Danny Farrell has beeen the leader since 1987????

The reform powers were Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1963), then delegate to the United Nations, Senator Lehman and lawyer Thomas K. Finletter, former Secretary of the Air Force, augmented by Francis W.H. Adams the Ivy League Police Commissioner and the liberal attorney Lloyd Garrison. Their young warriors managed to elect full slates of DLs in 1958, thanks to the the strength reformers had gained from the Adlai Stevenson Presidential campaigns, 1952 and 1956. The Irish regulars did not back Stevenson because he was divorced. The "middle class semi-intellectuals" (Chas Kinsolwing's words, not mine) won 16 districts, in Manh, Riverdale and Bklyn Hts.

In the 1st Assembly District North (now the 63rd) the reform Murray Hill Citizens, (later tthe Murray Hill Reform Democratic Club) founded in 1958, in 1959 elected Arthur Glixon as District Leader, over the regulars Jerry Murphy and Emlyn Murray Bates, and Charles Kinsolving, their President, in 1961 (Charlie had unsuccessfully run for the Assembly in 1954).
In the East, Shanley Egeth's East Midtown Club, an outgrowth of the old Stevensonian Democratic Club, went head to head with the regulars of the George W. Thompson Democratic Club, and picked up their more liberals members (Bruce Solomon, Frank Volente, Bill Volin), while the club-less old-liners with working captaincies became political gunslingers, reputedly working for Albano Republicans as well as Democrats. As an aside, a working captaincy, with the ability to produce a hundred or more votes, was valuable capital. One could become a paid pothole watcher, more properly a corporation inspector, reporting to Con Edison any potholes indicative of subsoul wash-aways in the watcher's assigned tour area. Miraculously, some were actually reported. This sinecure ended some time in the 1960s. By the way, Senator Alfonse D'Amato's "Pothole" nickname stems from the fact that he always made his office available to handle complaints from his community, including pothole reports - if memory serves.
The East Midtowners met in the Half Moon Bar on NW 28th St and 2nd Ave, until they acquired temporary possession of a magnificent condemned building, which they made available for parties to raise rent money, with little success. The East Midtown founders include Margot and Arnold Fine (he became a judge in the Appellate Division of the SupremenCourt), Lou Helpert, George Ouzounian, Larry Gershon. Shanley 's co-leaders were Joan Carroll, and, after 1968, Mary Stumpf. When judge-maker Shanley joined the judiciary himself, in 1973 the club merged with Tilden to become the Tilden Midtown Democratic Club. Louise Dankberg, is the current DL, with the male half given over to Gramercy-Stuyvesant Independent Democrats, a post-reform club of the 1970s, who off and on contested territories with the Tildens andd the Jeffersons.
Some of the organizers of the original 1958 Tilden club in the South were Margot Gayle (a major reformer, former head of the the League of Women Voters, today the head of Friends of Cast Iron Architecture), Louise Jay, Robert Ferrari, Larry Goldberg, Judge Millard Madonick, Allen Finberg and Anne Kennedy (who became Adlai Stevenson's secretary at the UN and died at a young age), and the wonderful Beth Robertson Cosnow.
A splinter of East Midtown in the North, Mid-Manhattan Democrats, contested and took over the Murray Hill Club's territory in 1973, Lou Sepersky and Mary Stumpf replacing Charles Kinsolving and Arlene Hershman in district leadership (of this more later). Bruce Solomon and Steve Rosen were the leaders in 1975 and 1977. The club merged with the New Democrats in the 1980s, to become the Mid-Manhattan New democratic Club. Mary Stumpf continued as District Leader with Peter Doukas, who unsuccessfully contested Bill Green's seat in the Congress in 1990.
The original New Democratic Club organizers were Ed Kostikyan (later County Leader, member of the Charter Revision Commission and Deputy mayor in Koch's first term, ttorney with Weiss Garrison Rifkin?????), Marian Weinstein, Frieda Barlow, Howard Amron. They ran against Bellxxxx
The Jefferson Club remained regular. Its leaders were Bernard Nadel, who became a judge, Milt Rittow, co-leader Rosemary Fay, Bea Dolan, Jane, Chris and Kevin McGraths, Rose Dubinsky (married to Judge Jack Dubinsky), Frank Valente.
Further North, some ADA and Labor movement people started the Lexington Democratic Club, notably Alice Sachs and Richard B. Lane. They represented the entire Congressional district. Having run afoul of County leader Frank Rosetti in the early 1970s, they were divided into three districts, with Mike Macius (later Peter Phillips) and Alice Sachs, John A.K.Bradley and Diane Staab, and Ken Mills with Jane Low (now of Department of Parks) as leaders. They remain split but ordinarily vote together.

Murray Hill Reform Democratic Club
Typical reformers, the gadfly Murrays backed Sen. Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 Democratic primaries, and a whole bunch of the enthusiasts accompanied Charlie Kinsolving to the Chicago Democratic convention. They came back impressed, after having seen the riots in Lincoln Park and the yuppie demonstrations, and after climbing up and down fire escapes to sneak in and hear the New York caucus, through a window opened for them by Charlie, the only official delegate. True to form, the club backed Sen. George McGovern in the primaries and Presidential elections in 1972. The clubhouse was one biggish 2nd Floor room on Lexington near 33rd, above a bar (Josephine's?), now gone, with a nice big window, perfect to put up posters . Someone during the 1972 Presidential Campaign threw a rock at it, and the club only had enough money to repair one half of the pane. The landlord was having a fit.
The club also backed Koch for Congress in 1968 and 1970, the first Democrat in 34 years to win in John Vliet Lindsay's Silk Stocking District (represented by Lindsay 1956-65, Bill Green in 1977- 91, Democrat Carolyn B. Maloney since 1992). The Murrays preferred the maverick Herman Badillo for Mayor (we nicknamed him "the tallest Puerto Rican in the world"), in 1969, and in 1973, refusing to back Koch in the pre-primary struggle, when he wanted the Mayorality. It cost us - in the subsequent district elections, when the Murrays and and another club contended the same district, Koch went full speed behind Lou Sepersky's and Mary Stumpf's Mid-Manhattan Democratic Club, although the latter had been only lukewarm for Koch in his Congressional campaigns. That was true "what have you done for me lately" politics, and the Murrays became a discussion club and slowly sank into oblivion, after becoming unable to pay the increased rent and quitting the comfortable Lexington Ave nest, much to the landlord's relief.
The 1973 election was interesting. Lindsay, then a Republican ex-Congressman, in 1965 had inherited from Wagner a city with a bad deficit (Wagner, son of the great Labor advocate Senator Fredinand, had legalized City worker unions and raised the city employee salary scale). The new Mayor had to impose a city sales tax and raise all real estate and business taxes. Nevertheless, he city sank, welfare rolls doubled, from 1/2 Million, in 1970 there were riots in the Tombs, and in Inner City, and the Mayor walked all through Harlem in his shirtsleeves, jacket slung across his back, talking and quieting the populace. It worked, and Lindasy saw himself as the next Republican Presidential candidate. But the State Republicans did not, and in 1971 he switched to the Democratic Party. Running for the Presidency while the City was losing ground cost him some credibility, he lost the backing of Alex Rose and the Liberal Party, and in March 1973 he announced that he would not run for the 3rd term. A couple of winners from the Lindsay regime were Mario Cuomo, a Queens attorney who on the Mayor's behalf in 1970 successfully negotiated a Forest Hills scatter housing for the poor situation and went on from there, and Roy Goodman, his Finance Administrator, who ran for State Senate in 1968 and has been there ever since.
Politics abhors a vacuum even more than nature, and not one but five Reform Democrats stepped forward as candidates, looking for the backing of the then reform umbrella organization, the New Democratic Coalition. NDC was organized by Paul O'Dwyer, Mayor Bill's kid brother, to pull together Democrats opposed to the Vietnam War, and had gained high reform recognition. The interested were Ed Koch, who in 1968 took over Lindsay's seat in Congress, City Councilmember Robert Postel, and West Side Assemblymembers Jerome Kretchmer (Environment Protection Administrator under Lindsay - remember the pooper-scoopers?) and Albert Blumenthal - and from The Bronx, Herman Badillo, who probably had it all, a combined minority, Jewish (through his wife Irma) and congressional service appeal. But Blumenthal rallied, had the NDC meeting exclude delegates with imperfect credentials, and the Bronxites never got in. Badillo stormed about racism, and Kretchmer, Postel and Koch dropped out (the latter with disastrous results for us Murrays, as seen above).
Meanwhile, on the organization Regular Democrat side, Comptroller Abraham Beame and City Council President Sanford Garelik, ex-Police Dept Inspector General with Republican and Liberal backing, were not idle. They rallied support from Brooklyn leader Meade Esposito, Patrick Cunningham in the Bronx, and Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton. In The Bronx, Congressman Mario Biaggi, an ex-cop, had the help of Matthew Troy from Queens, and campaigned on the promise of law and order. In the subsequent primary Beame had 34, Badillo 29, Blumenthal 16 and Biaggi 21 percent of the vote. The reformers had inserted into the election law a primary runoff requirement, if no candidate reached 40 percent, and so in the runoff Beame beat Badillo with 61 percent of the vote, and was a shoo-in in the November election over the Republican's hapless Mario Proccacinxxxxxo.
For those of us who have not had the great experience of continued political activism, you should know that a clubhouse where you can drop in any night was a wonderful thing. How clubs operate today, when the only space they can get is a monthly meeting room begged from a church or synagogue is an unfathomable thing to me. Another whole democratic (small d) experience is lost. We club people were able to hear political candidates, have interminable debates among ourselves and truly democratically decide whom to back, whose ideas to follow. We spoke to the candidates and to our own people, argued and religiously voted on issues and candidates and club officers. I was nominated , then compelled to withdraw from the Executive Committee slate in 1968, because I was, still, an Independent. The club knew that I had worked for Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1968, they respected my opinion that Nixon was the only American who could knee Khruschev and Brezhnev in the groin while still smiling at them, but I could not vote in the primaries.
The early years of Reform were electric - we batted around ideas and candidates, and people like Norman Mailer would run for Mayor. It was equally interesting on the Republican side. William F. Buckley ran for Mayor in 19xx, and Barry Farber the radio talk show host in 19xx, the latter managed by a friend of mine, Charles W.Wiley, who himself ran for Congress in Middlesex County, N.J. next time around. We also saw the other side of the coin of political office and the quest for it - the long hours of politicking, the havoc that it wreaked on families and personal life, the broken families in the wake of someone's political ambition, a totally uacceptable form of existence for me. Politicians worry me - the people who are willing to sacrifice their and their families' personal lives to do campaigning are scaresome creatures, and the question as to whether they can be trusted, or read,the way ordinary humans can be trusted or read, has been a concern. General Powell, in his "I will not run" speech very generously dubbed being in politics a calling. That is going quite far.
On a rainy day of this unusually warm November, I watched a young girl with a n unfashionable Janssport back-pack over a thin flowery dress walk up Washington Place, barefoot through the puddles, past #14 where Mayor Edward I Koch maintained a rent-stabilized apartment right through his three Mayoral terms, to her classes at Washington Square College. (In this house, diagonally across the Triangle Fire site, Koch would have local activists in for Saturday chats, building a constituency. He now lives on Fifth Avenue, in the same building as Bella Abzug once did, kittycorners from the 87-year old Carmine DeSapio who occasionally takes a walk on the block, but not by himself).
She had an open trusting face, and reminded me of the sweet flower children of the 1960s around the fountain in Washington Square. We had some flower children come to the Murray Hill Democratic Reform Club to help in elections. The club workers who lasted through the years were from all professions. Helen Sands, our State Committeewoman, was a professional nurse. Arlene Garson, a movie editor. Arlene Hershman, co-leader, editor of a Dun Bradstreet magazine.The lawyers , doing club service were somewhat suspect of trying for club points, in quest of meagerly paying judgeships. This may not have been entirely fair, the idealistic ones may not have been part of the quest, but nevertheless... The system had always required judicial candidates to pay goodly sums to the party, as election contributions, before they would receive endorsement, which then was tantamount to election. Carmine de Sapio was considered an inside reformer and humanitarian when he reduced the price of judgeships to $25,000, one year's pay. There is still some of that going around, even when sitting judges seek reelection. In the 70s the Reform attempted to institute a system of screening judicial candidates xxxxNevertheless, candidates for the judiciary are the most faithful attendees of club fundraisers, the basic source of money for mailings (rent money is now past tense, since most Manhattan clubs cannot afford clubhouses). For example, at a recent Tilden Club anniversary fundfaiser that we went to, the majority of attendees were judicial office seekers and members of elected officials' staffs.
Political clubs serve one purpose - to elect candidates. The old Tammany-type club system was simple - officeholders and candidates fed scraps of their political gains into a club of dogsbodies, people who held politically connected jobs, some of them do-nothing, such as pothole inspectors (abolishedxxx) and did all the requisite things for their candidates to be elected or reelected. We were a different bunch, We were people outside of the patronage system, who had to be convinced by the candidates. We would then voluntarily, without payback, work for those candidates whom we considered to be principled, sometimes even when the principles did not quite mesh. We were idealists, not a breed currently on show, when, for instance, the Republicans accept machine politics that make Dole an automatic candidate, by technically freezing everyone else out. We were not shy about challenging signatures and looking for errors in the opponents' petitions, but it was not quite the same degree of fervor.
Many of our club members were single people. Political work was class, well above singles' bars as a boy-meets-girl activity, but there was some of that, and club members got married to each other with some regularity. When I mentioned to my Conservative friend Charlie Wiley that I was marrying a Democrat, he claimed that his group was about to form a rescue and wives' deprogramming operation, since all of his political mates were getting hitched to attractive Liberal-minded women, and soon there would be no Conservatives left.
There was always something going on in the club - advising people with landlord problems, addressing envelopes for candidates of our choice, teaming up to go collect signatures among registered Democrats in big apartment buildings, where we had an ally to let us in - that is until some opponent called the doorman to throw us out. An easy building on my route was the one where Judge Millard Midonick's wife rang us in, year after year - others were tough. We hardly ever set up card tables on street corners, we were doorbell ringers. Few of our petitions got thrown out because we worked from the lists of registered Democrats. We were a valuable ally, and political candidates came to speak to us often. Our pay was in the excitement of getting our people in, and in the parties. The electees did not always produce according to their pre-election words.
That clubhouse saw much excitement. Harrison Jay Goldin, the Bronx Borough President and State Senator in search for Citty Controllership, came to us from the Bronx with his family. He was the Dynamo and the wife and son were nicknamed Dynamissus and Dyna-mite. Goldin spoke forcefully, like a college orator, with quotes and Latin allusions. George Spitz would visit often, with his bulging breefcase, and speak of political miscreants and wrongdoings. Our fear was that the case would burst and spew out enough papers to pollute the whole area. During one campaign period Donna Shalala, now Secretary of Health, then an associate professor of sociology at Columbia, would rush in, wearing a trendy proletarian dungaree suit, to hector us, to the annoyance of Arlene Herschman, Charley's co-leader. John Lo Cicero, who brought us Koch's campaign literature from the VID headquarters, was a welcome visitor, as was Koch himself, who liked my wife's liver pate and looked for it at the club's impromptu "covered dish" social events/fundraisers. Formal fund-raisers were at small restaurants, and $15 was a high admission. William VandenHeuvel once had ordered a table for 12 at a pre-election party and no one came, much to my concern - that table alone meant the difference of breaking even and making next month's rent. I called his office with some trepidation - he had lost the congressional race - to hear with much relief that "we will not stick a local club with the tab." He came through.
We also visited politicians looking for our help. Stewart Mott, the General Motors heir, had a huge formal reception hall and a grand balcony. His transportation was on that balcony, a bycicle. Antonio Olivieri and his campaign manager both wore white Guccis while addressing us from comfortable seats, as we stood around them. A caveat, pols. He was a nice person though, and died of a brain tumor. His money funded a Center for xxx. William Fitts Ryan what do I remenber? Something about how his wife was beaten out of his seat? We also saw Andrew Stein at his maybe 2nd or 3rd 1969 campaign appearance, in a Stuy Town apartment, as he ran for Assembly. He was a frightened young man barely out of his teens and unable to speak beyond "Thank you for coming," pushed by the minions of his forceful father, Jerry Finkelstein, who spent an alleged 150,000, an immense sum then, for this election, and scads more for advisors. Another argument for limiting campaign contributions. We also visited Amanda and Carter Burdens' white-walled apartment, during his City Council race, and gawked at huge paintings that covered entire walls, by Kenneth Nolan and Morris Lewis, about whom we had a mock discourse as to whether he was really Lewis Morris, a grand NY name. As we were nibbling on hors d'oeuvres served by a matronly maid in white, the Burdens disappeared, to their real apartment. This was a place they maintained for parties only. Sadly, a club member was evicted from her apartment after running a club-sponsored reception on the roof of her building for the late Robert Wagner Jr., the thoughtful son of the Mayor who was a good chairman of the Board of Education.
The tough job in politics, club presidency, was hard to fill, when Coral Kinsolving threw in the towel, after 10 years. My wife kept it, for about 30 seconds, then Len xx,Tom Liggett and, finally Forest Paradise who one day had wandeered in, in his sandals and shorts, to state a grievance. He stayed to the end.
We were friendly with the conservatives, another bunch of troublemakers, and Jimmy Lett and xxMollendorf?? visited the Kinsolvings. Was x Bancroft, a grand lady who helped Allen Dulles spy on the Germans in WWII, a Conserv? Of the Republicans, Bart Regazzi of the Albano Club was known to us. State Senator Roy Goodman was a formidable power and in the one election that Lou Sepersky ran against him we felt sad, as though a sacrificial lamb was fed to the lions. Goodman, Harvard '51, had been New York City's Finance administrator 1966-68,, under Lindsay, before winning his Senate seat from Manhattan's 26th District.
Some of our reform allies were the wonderful Beth Robertson Cosnow and Louise and Jay Dankberg from Tilden, Ken Mills of the Lex Dems and xx of New Dems which now operate as Mid-Manh New Dems . Carol Greitzer, the Councilperson from the then 3rd Councilmanic District, was a friend, as was Henry Stern, now Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. We had dealings with Miriam Friedlander from the 2nd Councilmanic District. GSID (need names founders, Klaus van Stutterheim,Sylvia Friedman, Myrna Lo Pree)) was just about coming into existence, trying to carve out a space from those occupied by the Jefferson (Rose Dubinsky, later Andrew Kulak and Nancy de Rosa) and Tilden (with which they now split DLship).
Who were our VID friends ? (Victor Kowner, Dinkins' Corp Counsel?) What was NDC all about? Is it alive?
Did we meet Indep Dems Phil Wachtel? Paul Wrablica Fed Repub?
County leaders now
Courtland nichols?
List more club names

The proud stone banner proclaiming Society of Tammany or Columbian Orderstands over the 1928 building on 17th Street, corner Park Ave South that housed Tammany Hall and the New York County Committee of the Democratic party during some rough years, until 1943.
In 1935 Governor Lehman appointed Thomas E. Dewey as the special rackets prosecutor. Dewey soon indicted Jimmy Hines, Upper West Side and Harlem District Leader, for taking protection money from Arthur (Dutch Schultz) Flegelheimer, and sent him to jail. The Irsh of Tammany Hall were worried - in 1931 they had admitted to District Leadership Albert Marinelli, at the express orders and threats of Charles (Lucky) Luciano, a narcotics dealer, and the Mob was coming in, and the nosey Dewey was appointed District Attorney, in 1937.
In 1943 Frank Hogan, Dewey's successor, published a wiretapped telephone message to mobster Frank Costello, proclaiming loyalty, from the Democratic and Republican candidate for the State Supreme Court, Thomas A. Aurelio. He still managed to get elected, and has served with distinction.
Chrisopher Sullivan, a do-nothing Congressman since 1917 and County Leader since 1937, was dumped in 1942. His replacement, Michael J.Kennedy
who had Costello present at Tammany meetings, was dumped in 1944, after the Hall was sold an Tammany went to 37th and Madison, in the New York Democratic organization's building , and the New York City Democratic Committee moved furhter up the block.
The next leader, Edward Coughlin, was ousted in 1947 by Mayor William O'Dwyer, who installed Frank Sampson with the express purpose of getting the Mob out of New York City politics. Sampson lasted only a year. His successor, Hugo E. Rogers, Borough President of Manhattan, made the mistake of backing a losing candidate against Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. for Congress, and this gave the Italian newcomers on the County Committee in 1949 a chance to throw him over and elect their leader, Carmine DeSapio, as County Leader.
DeSapio was born in 1908, and worked as a youngster in the family's trucking business, in between running errands for the Huron Democratic Club, whose District Leader Daniel E. Flynn was the sheriff of New York County. In 1937 DeSapio founded Tamawa Club to contest the leadership, lost the next election, won in 1939 in a reelection after claiming fraud, by 51 votes. Sullivan would not let him sit on the Executive Committee, claiming that he was "objectionable," a time-hallowed excuse. Flynn was reelected in 1941, but then the sheriff's office was abolished, he retired and Tamawa became the recognized club. In 1943 Kennedy admitted DeSapio to the Executive Committee, allegedlu under Costello's influence.There is a story that Costello had a hands-off attitude towards DeSapio, considering him a nice clean Italian boy who wouuld go far if the mob left him alone, and advised the Mafiosi to shift for themselves and not involve Carmine.
Another comer was Irish-born lawyer William O'Dwyer (1890-, a day laborer and cop who went to law school, became a magistrate, then the DA in Brooklyn, and acquired a name by prosecuting Murder Inc. and Alberto Anastasia. However, his star witness, mobster Abe Reles, fell out of a window in Coney Island while held in protective custody, giving the prosecutor and his assistant James J. Moran a shady reputation. O'Dwyer lost a Majorality bid to incumbent Fiorello LaGuardia in 1941, joined the Army in 1942 and won the Mayorality in 1945. His running mate as President of City Council was an unknown, Vincent Impelliteri, recommended by Congressman Vito Marcantonio of the American Labor Party, at the request of mobster Charles Lucchese, a/k/a as Three-Finger Brown.
In 1946 DeS was appointed to the Board of Elections, a well-paying job, and, after the Loughlin-Sampson-Rogers sequence, was voted in as the the head of Tammany, on July 20, 1949, with the Irish abstaining.
In 1949 O'Dwyer was looking for a State Supreme Court appointment, probably because the Brooklyn bookmaker Harry Gross case threatened to reveal some activities. Edward Fflynn, the Boss of the Bronx (he wrote a book titled You are the Boss), came up with the solution that would keep Democrats in City Hall - el elecr O'Dwyer but have him resign shortly before the 1950 national election that would assure the Democrats a large popular vote. An ambasadorial appointment to Mexico was arrang w truman for summer 1950 , so that in the general election in 1950 a Dem cand could be elected.
The chosen Dem cand was judge Ferdinand Pecora, but Imp decided to buck the bosses with his Exper Party - and he won. DeSapio was into hard times, his patronage was cut off and he had to sell judgeships to keep the party in funds.
During the 1951 Kefauver Invest of Corr Frank Costello mentioned DeSapio as a friend. This escaped attention, as the hearings concentrated on Mayor O'Dwyer. John P Crane of Firemen's union testified of passing money to John J.Moran, O'Dwyer's Deputy Fire Commisioner and old associate (as a result, he went to jail) and to the Mayor (which was later disproven).
Impelliteri turned out to be a dud, and the 1953 primary was won by Robert F. Wagner Jr., backed by DeSapio. He also reduced the Manh CC from 11762 to 3471, and promoted direct election of District leaders. W. Averell Harriman got the Governorship , against the candidacy of FDR Jr who got the atty gen nomination and lost the election. Harriman made DeS Secty of state. Lex club org, Alice Sachs and Jean Baltzell go to County Committee, Lloyd Garrison and Dorothy Schiff to State Comm in 1957.
1956 Dem Conv DeS w Harrison, not Stevenson
1958 State Conv has three sen cands Thos E Murray of the Atom En Comm Finletter Reforn cand and F Hogsn S
Ref gets leh to set up CDV
1960 backs arthur Levitt for Mayor, and gets beaten by Wagner in the primaries 1961 2/1 bypass JFK Prendergast does not permit speak

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