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Charleston Daily Mail
April 7, 1960

Religious Issue Test Set

Kennedy’s Foes Focus on W. Va.

By Herb Little, Associated Press Staff Writer

Those Democrats who are bent on stopping Kennedy or at least slowing him down before the national convention will get their next big chance here in West Virginia.

Campaigning begins this weekend in a West Virginia re-match between Sen. John F. Kennedy and the man he crushed two days ago in the Wisconsin primary, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey.

Kennedy of Massachusetts and Humphrey of Minnesota will put their presidential ambitions to the test of popularity with West Virginia Democrats in the May 10 primary election.

Humphrey will go on the road first. His campaign bus is due to leave here early tomorrow morning for a swing through Southern West Virginia. Kennedy will begin stumping Monday, also with a series of appearances in the southern part of the state.

In the game of presidential politics, West Virginia is in the low minor leagues. Too, the outcome here will in no way tie up any of the state’s 25 votes in the Democratic convention at Los Angeles in July.

Religious Issue

For those reasons, the Kennedy-Humphrey re-match here after the emphatic Wisconsin verdict would be like having batting practice after the crucial game except for two things:

1 The prospect that overwhelmingly Protestant West Virginia will furnish a truer test than Wisconsin of “the religious issue” which arises because Kennedy is a Roman Catholic.

2 The fact that this is the next-to-last big chance his party foes will have in which to upset the Kennedy bandwagon in a primary. Not until the Oregon voting May 20 will Kennedy again go against serious opposition. Entered in the Democratic primary there along with Kennedy and Humphrey are Senate Democratic Leader Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, Sen. Stuart Symington of Missouri, and Sen. Wayne L. Morse of Oregon.

Here, as in Wisconsin, both candidates undoubtedly will stick should not be an issue. But they can’t keep it from being discussed. Its possible effect already is being discussed wherever people gather to talk politics in West Virginia.

A solid Kennedy victory here might do for him what his Wisconsin triumph did not. It might dispel the fear felt by some party professionals that Kennedy, as a Catholic, could not win in November against the Republican nominee, almost certainly Vice President Nixon.

Catholics account for just over 15 per cent of church membership in West Virginia and not quite 5 per cent of the total population. The percentage of Catholics may be higher among Democrats, who will do all the voting in the Kennedy – Humphrey contest. Unlike Wisconsin, West Virginia does not permit crossover voting in primaries.

Heaviest Upstate

The Catholic population is heaviest upstate, especially in the steel towns of the Northern Panhandle. One-third of the state’s Catholics live in the upper three counties of the panhandle.

Rural West Virginia is practically all Protestant, mostly Methodists and Baptists. Southern West Virginia is overwhelmingly Protestant, but there are Catholic parishes in some coal-mining sections there.

Although opinion is not unanimous, many West Virginia politicians think religion will work for Congregationalist Humphrey and against Catholic Kennedy in these areas of almost complete Protestant sway.

If so, another factor could work in the opposite direction in rural West Virginia, where Democrats tend to vote for men of somewhat conservative stamp. This is the fact that, although their voting records are similar, Humphrey’s reputation more than Kennedy’s is that of the militant liberal.

As between Kennedy and Humphrey, the official position of the leadership of the state’s two biggest segments of organized labor – the AFL-CIO and the United Mine Workers – is neutral.

But the president of one of the three big UMWA districts which have headquarters in the state – Raymond O. Lewis of District 17 – said that as an individual he favored Humphrey, although as district president his policy would be hands off. A few UMWA locals are reported to have taken a stand for Humphrey.

The state’s two United States senators, Robert C. Byrd and Jennings Randolph, are reported to favor Johnson. So is John E. Amos of Charleston, who will be in the delegation in his capacity as national committeeman.

There aren’t many known supporters of either Kennedy or Humphrey among those running for delegate. That isn’t likely to change, regardless of which way the May 10 voting goes.

One of the state’s prominent Democratic politicians sees the West Virginia preference primary as “not a Kennedy – Humphrey fight at all, but a fight between Kennedy and people who have nowhere else to go but to Humphrey.”


Humphrey Sees Better Result in W. Va. Vote

By Jack Bell

His cupboard is bare, his treasury in the red “and the only thing running good will be Hubert Humphrey himself.”

That’s the situation in which Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn) said today he believes he can take the measure of Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) in West Virginia’s May 10 presidential primary.

Fresh from Tuesday’s balloting in Wisconsin, where he lost to Kennedy by 106,867 popular votes and took the short end of a 20 ½ -10 ½ split in convention delegates, Humphrey is bouncily confident there is a turn in the road ahead.

It will come, in his view, in almost solidly Protestant West Virginia, where Kennedy’s Catholicism will be at least an undertow issue and where there will be no crossing of party lines.

“This is a primary where Democrats will be voting for Democrats,” Humphrey said in an interview. “There won’t be any Republicans voting for Sen. Kennedy as they did in Wisconsin. I think more than 100,000 Republicans voted the Democratic ticket there and Sen. Kennedy surely benefited from the crossover.”

Asked if he can finance an all-out drive after his estimate that Wisconsin ate up around $100,000 in funds raised for him, Humphrey said: “My cupboard is bare, my treasury is in the red and the only thing running good will be Hubert Humphrey himself. But I like my chances.”


Kennedys Move Into Clarksburg

An advance guard for presidential aspirant John F. Kennedy came here last night after an earlier stop in Charleston on behalf of the Massachusetts Democrat.

Two brothers of Sen. Kennedy, Robert F. and Ted, flew into Charleston to meet with 60 to 70 campaign workers from 28 counties. The traveling Kennedys came on to Clarksburg to a meeting headed by Ben Stout and Vic Gabriel of this city.

Robert Kennedy told the gatherings:

“It was the work of people just like yourselves and the teamwork of the Kennedy organizations in every county, large and small, that made this Wisconsin primary such a success.”

The Kennedy campaigners used the Wisconsin primary victory over Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn) to pump new steam into the West Virginia phase of a drive for the presidential nomination.

The West Virginia balloting May 10 will not bind the state’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but Kennedy and Humphrey will battle it out for a preference endorsement.

Humphrey will beat Kennedy to the state. He is scheduled to campaign by bus starting early tomorrow. Kennedy will be along Monday.


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