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Charleston Gazette-Mail
July 10, 1960

State Delegates Converge on LA

By Harry G. Hoffman

Los Angeles – By air, rail and highway, West Virginians converged on this Democratic battleground today, bringing with them more delegate votes for Sen. John F. Kennedy than all the other presidential hopefuls combined.

Because some delegates are still weighing their decision or prefer not to declare their preference openly, it is difficult to establish a clear count of comparative strength.

As the delegates headed west, however, a close estimate placed the West Virginia votes in this order:

Kennedy – 14 1/2 to 18 1/2
Lyndon Johnson – 2 1/2 to 3 1/2
Adlai Stevenson – 2 to 3
Stuart Symington – 1 to 2

West Virginia has 25 votes in the Democratic National Convention opening Monday in the gigantic Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

These are made up of 24 elected delegates with one vote each, and the state’s two national committee members who have half a vote each by reason of their position.

National Committeeman John E. Amos of Charleston is known to be for Johnson, while National Committeewoman Violet Snedegar of Elkins has said she leans to Kennedy.

Mrs. Snedegar will continue to serve as national committeewoman throughout this convention, although the West Virginia State Committee has voted to replace her with Mrs. Mary Hart Davisson of Weston.

Mrs. Davisson, also a Kennedy supporter, will have no official place in the convention, except as the alternate of Delegate Frank J. Maxwell of Clarksburg, and her nomination as committeewoman still must be ratified by the National Committee. This will not come up until the end of the 1960 convention.

Kennedy’s strength with the West Virginia delegation stems largely from the heavy vote he received in the state’s Democratic primary of May 10, although about half of the delegates elected were either openly for Kennedy or represented as leaning to him in the primary campaign.

Kennedy defeated Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota in the West Virginia primary by a vote of 236,510 to 152,187. While this did not commit any delegates legally to vote for Kennedy, many consider it a moral obligation to vote the sentiments of an overwhelming majority of the state’s Democratic voters.

This view assumes added significance because of the general climate of the primary campaign which pitted Kennedy against the field—a situation which developed largely out of Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s campaign urging supporters of Stevenson, Symington, Johnson and John Doe to vote for Humphrey as a means of stopping Kennedy. Byrd is an avowed supporter of Johnson.

The only other clear Johnson support in the state comes from Amos and former State Tax Commissioner Milton J. Ferguson of Huntington, whose support is said to be primarily out of deference to Byrd. Another possibility in this camp is Frank J. Maxwell of Clarksburg, who is uncommitted but has said he leans to Johnson but is friendly to Kennedy.

Stevenson’s open, ardent and enthusiastic supporters in the West Virginia delegation and W. T. (Suey) Brotherton and W. E. (Ned) Chilton III, both of Charleston. Neither has said where he will go if the Stevenson draft fails to develop, but both probably would follow Stevenson’s recommendation if he makes any.

A third possibility for Stevenson is First District Delegate Thomas B. Miller of Wheeling who said he would go to Los Angeles uncommitted but listed the order of his personal preference as Stevenson, Kennedy, Symington, Johnson.

Rep. John M. Slack Jr. of Charleston is the only delegate openly for Symington, although State Sen. Lyle Smith of Huntington has said he leans to Symington.

All of the other West Virginia delegates are either in the Kennedy camp or have not indicated a preference.

West Virginians have been heading for Los Angeles throughout the week, but the biggest single group was scheduled to leave Kanawha Airport at 9:30 a. m. Sunday aboard an American Airlines DC-6 “Delegate Special.” This plane is to make connection in Chicago with an American 707 jet which is due in Los Angeles at 3:25 p. m. (PDT).

In Los Angeles, the West Virginia delegation will be quartered at the Commodore Hotel, 1203 West Seventh St., where a delegation meeting has been set for 3 p.m. Monday.

Among those flying to Los Angeles Sunday are Sixth District Delegate A. Carl Carey and his alternate, Miles C. Stanley of Dunbar; Fifth District Delegate J. Clarence Alderson and his alternate, Ray Haythe, both of Hinton; Alternate Charles A. Meyer and his wife of Charleston, Alternate Sidney L. Christie of McDowell County, Alternate Roy C. Hill of Monroe County; Mrs. Eula Gay, Mrs. Grace Darnell, Mrs. Don Harper, Jack Hellems and J. O’Bryan.

Mrs. Snedegar flew to the coast the first of the week and was joined Saturday by her husband, Nunley B. Snedegar, their children, William and Suzanne, and a niece.

Amos, Brotherton and John E. Howell of Charleston arrived Wednesday. Among those who make the trip Thursday were Delegate Joseph P. Condry of Charleston, Alternate N. Joe Rahall of Beckley, Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Chilton III of Charleston, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hedrick and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Maxwell of Elkins, and U. S. Sen. Jennings Randolph. Chilton and Hedrick are delegates, and Maxwell is an alternate.

Flying by jet from Friendship Airport in Baltimore Saturday were Slack and his alternate, Burl Sawyers of Charleston, and Mr. and Mrs. John S. Williams of Romney. Mrs. Williams is a delegate from the Second District, and her husband is her alternate.

Three West Virginians who were active in Kennedy’s primary campaign in the state—State Sen. Ward Wylie of Mullens, Robert P. McDonough of Parkesburg, and Matthew A. Reese Jr. of Huntington—were among the early arrivals. Wylie is chairman of the state delegation, while McDonough and Reese are alternates.

Democratic State Chairman Hulett C. Smith of Beckley left by private plane Thursday, accompanied by his daughter, Carolyn, his cousin, City Councilman John W. Smith of Beckley, and his pilot, Rayborn Cook of Beckley. Smith is the alternate of Judge R. D. Bailey of Pineville, who was elected a delegate at large but was unable to attend because of an ear infection.

Among those driving to the coast were Sen. Byrd, who left from Washington, and Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson, who drove from Huntington. Those traveling by train included Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Love, Mrs. Charles G. Peters Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. Peters Jr., all of Charleston, Mrs. Frances Evans of Logan, and Woodrow G. Jefferson of Huntington. Love is a delegate, and Mrs. Peters Sr., Mrs. Evans and Jefferson are alternates.

Other West Virginians here for the convention include William Beckett of Huntington, state president of the Young Democrats, and Joan Demus of Fairmont, national committeewoman for the state Young Democrats.


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