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II. Two Gentlemen From Ohio

By Rudolph Kass

This is the second of six articles on the forthcoming elections.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the much publicized Ohio senatorial campaign is the mediocrity of the Democratic candidate. Organized labor and Administration Democrats are supposedly frantically anxious to beat "Mr. Republican," Robert Alonso Taft, yet the Ohio Democrats chose to oppose him with the distinctly mediocre Joseph Ferguson.

Two superior candidates had been under consideration by the Democrats. One was the current candidate for governor, Frank Lausche, but Lausche allegedly admired Taft too much to run against him. It is a matter of record that Lausche, considering that he is running on an opposing ticket, has remained peculiarly silent on the Taft-Ferguson fight. Organized labor's choice was Murray Lincoln, farm bureau leader, but labor failed to exercise enough push at the state convention to nominate its man. Instead to convention came up with Ferguson, the State Auditor, a gent who is likable, entirely up-right, and has a handsome wife and eight children. He is also entirely new to politics above the State Auditor Level.

Taft is, of course, a national figure, and it is his part in the Ohio campaign that makes it a race of national interest. Labor dislikes him because he was an author and the most vocal exponent of the Taft-Hartley Law. Many Democrats want to get rid of Taf because he opposes the administration consistently and has the prestige among his Republican colleagues to make these political opinions felt. Taft balked at sending aid to Europe, opposed the Atlautie Pact, fought the nomination of David E. Lilienthal as Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, advocated renewed aid to Europe Kai-Shek and the defense of Formosa, and suggested, when the name of General George O. Marshall was before the Senate for confirmation as Secretary of Defense, that the General had shown himself frequently prepared to sell out to Communists. His record has not only stimulated the opposition of Democrats but had cooled the support of liberal Republicans, who felt Taft was not a good conservative (opposing change but ready to accept it when it is inevitable, but incurable reactionary).

The Ohio Senator's unpopularity with liberal elements of his own party led a prominent political observer to suggest that the Democrats were running Ferguson because they would just as soon see Taft win--a Taft victory would maintain him as a strong candidate at the Republican presidential nominating convention in 1952 where he might cause a split between the "liberals" and the "Old Guard." Better yet, Taft might win the nomination, and the Democrats would be assured of eliminating Elise hower, a much more dangerous opponent, as the Republican nominee. If Taft loses in Ohio, he is through as a presidential candidate, and elision however's nomination becomes increasingly likely.

Democratic politicians and their supporters who are less prone to dabble with long range intrigues are cager to defeat Taft now, rather than in 1952. All C.I.O. and A.F.L. unions, the railroad brother-hoods, the mine workers, and the machinists have pooled their efforts in a United Labor League of Ohio which s working fiercely and spending lavishly to procure Ferguson's victory. Huge amounts of anti-Taft campaign literature--ranging from a 218-page "blackbook" summary of Taft's record in the Senate to a comic book denouncing the Republican--are being distributed daily. The whole election is being fought on the issue of Taft's rather than Ferguson. Ferguson has little concrete to sell except a policy designed for him by Charles West, a former Roosevelt assistant, and Henry Busch, a professor at Western Reserve.

He has an intangible to sell, however--popularity. Ferguson as State Auditor has been an extraordinarily successful politician. In 1948 when Harry Truman carried Ohio by 7,701 voted, Ferguson won reelection by 291,887 votes, the most impressive majority the state has ever given a Democrat.

Therefore Taft, who is not personable and popular, has been waging the campaign for what it is--a fight for his political life. He had already spoken 760 times all over the state by a week ago, and will have delivered 900 speeches by Election Day. He, too, is waging an expensive campaign. Chain letters have been sent among Republicans all over the nation to ask contributions for Taft. This is paradoxical in view of Tafts repeated charge that out-of-state interests are interfering in the Ohio election. It may be the reason for the gradual disappearance of these letters.

In his speeches, Taft is making "labor bosses" his chief target ("My opponent is a captive candidate of the C.I.O.," he has said). He is making it a point to stop in every country in Ohio to prove to people that he is human. His backers emphasize his unquestionably great intelligence. His opponents suggest that his intelligence is notably misdirected.

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