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Capital Region Scrapbook: Party conventions held locally in 1946

Monday, September 26, 2011
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Schenectady delegates are seated and ready to shout as the 1946 Republican Convention begins. In the second row are, from left, J. Leslie Schoolcraft, Schenectady County Republican chairman; Mrs. George Ramsey (holding sign), president of the Schenectady County Republican Women's Club; Rebecca McNab; Dr. I.A. Bednarkiwicz; and James Cushing, former county Republican chairman.
Schenectady delegates are seated and ready to shout as the 1946 Republican Convention begins. In the second row are, from left, J. Leslie Schoolcraft, Schenectady County Republican chairman; Mrs. George Ramsey (holding sign), president of the Schenectady County Republican Women's Club; Rebecca McNab; Dr. I.A. Bednarkiwicz; and James Cushing, former county Republican chairman.

Democrats were fighting mad. So were Republicans.

Good thing they were in separate cities on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 1946. The state Democratic and Republican party conventions were under way in Albany and Saratoga Springs, respectively, as political insiders made nominations for November.

Republican incumbent Thomas E. Dewey hoped to keep his job as governor. His place on the ballot was assured.

Irving M. Ives wasn’t so sure. The Assembly majority leader appeared to have support of his fellow Republicans to run for senator — but some people preferred Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan for the job.

J. Leslie Schoolcraft, Schenectady County Republican Chairman, said Schenectady delegates were behind Ives.

All Republicans agreed Democrats’ services were not needed on the state level. They didn’t want the other party’s help on national levels, either.

The torchlight parade in Saratoga Springs that preceded the Grand Old Party’s main addresses may have been symbolic. Republican Majority Leader Benjamin F. Feinberg provided fire of his own inside the city’s Convention Hall. He described the administration of President Harry S. Truman as “one torn by internal conflict and impotent to give the nation constructive leadership.”

Feinberg predicted the Republican state ticket would be elected by an overwhelming vote. He said Americans who had just lived through the World War II years wanted leadership that would forever banish another world war. “It is the clear duty of the Republican party in our nation to supply that leadership,” Feinberg said.

Eleanor cheered

At the state Armory in Albany, Democrats cheered the star power of Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945.

Mayor William O’Dwyer of New York warmed up the crowd. “We must carry forward the banner of Franklin D. Roosevelt and a pledge of a more abundant life for all Americans,” O’Dwyer said. “We must continue to strive unceasingly for the accomplishment of the Economic Bill of Rights for every American, regardless of creed or color.”

Roosevelt was introduced as “First Lady of the World.”

In New York State, Roosevelt said, Gov. Dewey had received a government in good running order — there had been 22 years of Democratic rule. She also criticized Republican assertions that a cash surplus had been accumulated in New York. Some of that money, she said, had been inherited from the previous Democratic administration. Hoarding the funds, she said, had meant great hardship for state cities.

“Make the people of our state conscious of their greatness,” Roosevelt told the delegates. “Make this, your party, an instrument which will appeal to people who want greater achievement.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, both parties made decisions. Senator James M. Mead and Erastus Corning II were the Democrats’ choices for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively. Herbert H. Lehman would run for senator.

For the Republicans, Irving Ives didn’t have to sweat. He made the team for the November showdown against the Democrats.

And it turned out fiery Ben Feinberg was right all along. Dewey and his running mate, Joseph R. Hanley, were returned to office. Ives beat Lehman, and Republicans won comptroller, attorney general and judge of the court of appeals. Chief Judge John T. Loughran had run unopposed.

 
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