Rep. Birmingham called together Democratic state legislators for a meeting at the American House on Sept. 23 to calm a row over Democratic mayoral candidates, the Boston Herald reported (Sept. 24, 1925, p. 1, 2). Of the 41 Democratic state legislators from Boston, 18 showed up to the meeting.
Birmingham counseled against rash action, although many at the meeting wanted to adopt a resolution refusing to be bound by decisions of the City Committee, led by John I. Fitzgerald, a protege of Martin Lomasney.
Sen. William J. Francis of Charlestown wanted a formal denunciation of the “Lomasney plot,” the newspaper reported.
Patrick J. Sullivan from Roxbury cautioned that until the City Committee took action, any attack would not have an effect.
Thomas F. Donovan from the South End, one of Keliher leaders, advised his colleagues not to get excited, predicting that Lomasney would be unable to swing a majority of the City Committee for John F. Fitzgerald.
Rep. James J. Twohig wanted a referendum of enrolled Democrats about the matter, but was dissuaded based on the cost of such a move.
The legislators ended up adopting a lukewarm resolution that read: “We, the Democratic representatives and senators of Boston, at a meeting tonight, have unanimously voted to render every possible assistance to bring peace and harmony within the ranks of the Democratic party to make possible Democratic success in the coming mayoralty election. Fully appreciating the fact that Boston is a great Democratic city and should be presided over by a regular Democrat, we pledge ourselves to render every possible assistance to bring this condition to pass, and to further this, another meeting of all the representatives and senators will be held Monday, Sept. 28, at 7:45 P.M., in the American House.”
Birmingham had earlier sent out cards asking for his Democratic House colleagues from Boston to meet at the American House, the Boston Globe reported (Sept. 23, 1925, p. 1, 15).
Reacting to the news about Birmingham, John I. Fitzgerald, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, commented:
“The City Committee will look on such action by the Boston Democrats in the Legislature as an attempt to help the Good Government Association. The City Committee is the body which ought to act in the circumstances. We intend to proceed and at the proper time we shall indorse a candidate and shall expect the Democratic voters to support him.”
The Good Government Association was set up earlier as an anti-Curley group to prevent James Michael Curley, who had been convicted of a federal crime, to prevent him from winning the Boston alderman election, according to the Rascal King by Jack Beatty, p. 83. The association was funded by the Chamber of Commerce, the Merchants’ Association, the Associated Board of Trade, the Fruit and Produce Association, and the Bar Association.
The City Committee held a meeting Sept. 22 at the American House to listen to statements from Dist. Attorney O’Brien and City Councilor Purcell, who were mayoral candidates who appeared at the meeting. It also received messages from Sheriff Keliher and Gen. Dunn, also mayoral candidates who did not attend the meeting, the Boston Globe reported.
Purcell said that he had hired an attorney to persuade the courts to issue a writ of injunction forbidding an endorsement by the Good Government Association.
The committee could not reach harmony in terms of a mayoral candidate so it decided to hold another meeting in the next few days. The goal of the meeting would be to reach agreement on a Democratic candidate to prevent the election of a Republican mayor.
Gen. Logan, who had been considering a run for mayor, did not express a decision about running. Congressman Gallivan said that he favored his friend Logan to ex-mayor John F. Fitzgerald, contradicting a newspaper report that he favored Fitzgerald.
Martin Lomasney was expected to back Gen. Logan if he decided to run, the paper reported. Lomasney had been trying to persuade Congressman-elect John J. Douglass to run for mayor without success.
Ultimately, efforts to line up Democratic candidate for mayor failed. As a result, Republican Malcolm Nichols won the mayoral election held Nov. 3, 1925, that year and served as mayor from 1926 to 1930.
The Democratic vote was slit among several candidates (by number of votes received): Theodore A. Glynn, Joseph H. O’Neil, Daniel H. Coakley, Thomas C. O’Brien, John A. Keliher, and W.T.A. Fitzgerald, according to the 1925 Boston Mayoral Election Wikipedia page.
Many Massachusetts Democrats, including Gov. Ely and Rep. Birmingham, reacted favorable to Al Smith's announcement in February 1932 that he would be willing to be the Democratic presidential candidate, if the Democratic national convention supported his candidacy, the Boston Herald reported (Feb. 8, 1932, p. 1, 4, via Genealogy Bank).
At the same time, Smith stressed that he would not actively campaign for support, so his name would not appear on the state primary ballots.
Ely said that Smith’s statement “opens the door for the selection of a Massachusetts delegation friendly to his interests….It seems to me that the best interest of the Democratic party nationally and in Massachusetts will be served by the election of those delegates who, though unpledged in a legal sense, have a expressed a preference for the candidacy, the principles and the ideals of Alfred H. Smith.”
Commenting on the Smith announcement, Birmingham said: “I am delighted that Gov. Smith is agreeable to having his name placed before the next Democratic national convention as a candidate for the presidency. It is my opinion that he will be unanimously nominated in Chicago, as he was in Houston in 1928, because this same sentiment still prevails all over the country, and particularly in Massachusetts, for the ‘Happy Warrior.’ With millions of votes added to the 15,000,000 he has proved he can get, I feel that Gov. Smith will be sent to the White House in the next election.”
Mayor James Michael Curley, who supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt, declined to comment on the Smith announcement from his vacation spot in Cuba.
Boston Mayor Michael J. Curley, a Franklin Delano Roosevelt supporter, was able to outflank Rep. Birmingham and Chelsea Mayor Lawrence F. Quigley, both supporting Al Smith, at the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the Boston Herald reported (July 3, 1932, p. 4, via Genealogy Bank).
Because of his active support of FDR, Curley was not part of the Massachusetts delegation to the convention, which was pledged to support Smith. However, FDR supporters were able to maneuver so that Curley was at the convention as a delegate from Puerto Rico.
Both Birmingham and Quigley had challenged Curley’s right to speak at the convention. However, they were caught off guard when Curley took the stage at the convention and joined in the seconding of John Garner as the running mate to FDR.
Sensing the support for Garner at the convention, the Massachusetts delegation withdrew their opposition and sat silently as Garner’s nomination for vice president was approved by voice vote.
Rep. John W. McCormack of South Boston declared that he would second Garner’s nomination on behalf of Massachusetts, but opposition from his fellow delegates changed his mind.
In response to Garner’s nomination, the Massachusetts delegation deserted their section of the convention hall. A large group of delegates decided to leave Chicago early and arranged for a special train to take them back to Boston, the newspaper reported.
Gov. Ely, a Smith supporter, delayed the special train’s departure in order to keep the delegation at the convention for the final session, although some delegates left early anyway.