Rep. Birmingham attacked Mayor James Michael Curley for trying to manipulate the Democratic nomination for governor by backing John F. Fitzgerald even after Fitzgerald withdrew from the race due to illness, the Springfield Republican reported (Sept. 10, 1930, p. 1, 18).
Birmingham issued a statement chastising Curley for vowing to battle to nominate Fitzgerald despite the candidate’s decision to withdraw due to poor health as an “insult to the intelligence of the Democratic voters of Massachusetts.”
Curley’s effort to have Fitzgerald nominated was an attempt to substitute his candidate, Gen. Edward L. Logan, for Fitzgerald at the convention, according to the newspaper. Fitzgerald’s withdrawal left Joseph Ely and John J. Cummings in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
According to J. Joseph Huthmacher in his Massachusetts People and Politics, Curley originally backed Fitzgerald for governor based on an agreement that aging Fitzgerald would only serve one term, making way for Curley in 1932.
Curley continued to support Fitzgerald even after the latter’s withdrawal so that he could push for a weak candidate at the convention and ensure Republican Governor Allen would be reelected, according to Huthmacher, citing “common reports.”
The Republican party had an “escalator system” in which the lieutenant governor would become the next candidate for governor once the current governor served two terms. Curley considered the Republican lieutenant governor, William Youngman, to be a weak candidate whom he could beat in 1932, according to Huthmacher. This plan by Curley was hinted at by Birmingham in his statement opposing Curley’s effort to continue supporting Fitzgerald.
Birmingham’s full statement is below (Source: Springfield Republican):
"Mr Curley today appears in the role of a party dictator when he would override the wishes of former Mayor Fitzgerald and the members of Mr. Fitzgerald’s family, have the party nominate Mayor Fitzgerald and then have the state committee ‘substitute the ablest man in the Democratic party.’ Is he running out on Allen now? He already has run out on Whipple and Logan.
"Mr Curley’s proposition is an insult to the intelligence of the Democratic voters of Massachusetts. Moreover, he shows not the slightest consideration for former Mayor Fitzgerald or the latter’s family, confirming the opinion held all along by those familiar with the situation that Mr Curley had not the slightest interest in Mayor Fitzgerald’s success after the primary but was simply using him to prevent the nomination of someone who he feared might defeat Gov Allen and thus stand in the way of the fulfilment of Mr Curley’s pipe dream that he could be nominated and elected in 1932.
"Mr. Curley flouts the voters as usual. He would have them go through the form of nominating Mayor Fitzgerald and then have the former mayor withdraw and let 100 or more members of the state committee fill the vacancy. In other words, he would have 100 Democrats instead of the 800,000 in Massachusetts do the nominating for the party. It is ridiculous. Mr Curley [illegible] fast thinker, but apparently he thought too fast in this situation, not stopping to reflect that the state committee, if it did not nominate Mr Ely, might choose former Mayor Peters as the candidate in the event of the nomination and withdrawal of former Mayor Fitzgerald.
"I am a better friend of Mayor Fitzgerald than is Mr Curley. I sympathize with Mayor Fitzgerald and can do this without changing my previously expressed belief that the Democratic voters of Massachusetts would have chosen Mr Ely as their standard-bearer even with Mayor Fitzgerald as his opponent. The Democrats of Massachusetts will nominate Ely next Tuesday and the voters of Massachusetts will elect him on the first Tuesday of November. Mr Curley and his friend, Gov Allen, are very uncomfortable today.”