Three Democratic representatives—Rep. Paul Dever of Cambridge, Anthony A. McNulty of Boston, and William H. Hearn of East Boston—mounted challenges to Rep. Birmingham for the position of minority floor leader in the waning days of 1930, the Boston Herald reported (Dec. 14, 1930, p 57).
Governor-elect Joseph Ely was asked to remain neutral on the question, although Birmingham backed his election even when that was unpopular among Irish Catholic politicians, the newspaper said.
Dever became the leading candidate but his close relationship with Mayor James Michael Curley, a political opponent of Ely, made legislators who support Ely reluctant to elect him as the governor’s spokesman in the House.
Dever told the newspaper that he believed he had sufficient support to be elect House minority floor leader. Birmingham had done little to retain his post, although he was eager to continue, the newspaper said.
In the end, Birmingham defeated Dever by a vote of 68 to 26 on Jan. 7, according to the Springfield Republican (Jan. 8, 1931, pp. 1, 18).