Newspaper Articles


Charleston Gazette
July 15, 1960

But Rift Develops

State Delegation Backs Johnson

By Harry G. Hoffman
Editor of The Gazette

Los Angeles – West Virginia’s National Convention delegation, somewhat in antagonistic spirits after Wednesday night’s presidential nomination, agreed before the vice presidential balloting Thursday to put up a solid front in accepting Sen. John F. Kennedy’s choice for the second place on the ballot, Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson.

The delegation held a rather pointless caucus an hour before Thursday’s convention session opened and reached its decision with no one arguing against it.

No issue had been raised about the vice presidential nomination, but Delegate Robert H. Mollohan asked that the caucus be called and Chairman Ward Wylie complied.

Mollohan, unsuccessful nominee for Governor in 1956, said he had no intention of going against Kennedy’s choice, but explained that he thought the matter ought to be discussed.

It was discussed for about 10 minutes, and the delegation went through the routine of adopting a motion by Milton J. Ferguson of Huntington that the chairman be instructed to cast a unanimous vote for the man of Kennedy’s preference.

Delegate Charles M. Love Jr. of Charleston then moved that the caucus adjourn, and it was adopted promptly.

Several members of the delegation expressed the belief that Mollohan had called for the meeting only in an effort to reestablish himself in a position of party leadership. If this was the purpose of his action, the tone of the meeting indicated he had failed.

Meanwhile, the West Virginia delegation expressed a general feeling of satisfaction that Kennedy’s nomination for the presidency would give the Democratic ticket a grass roots flavor of strength.

Typical of the comment was that of Rep. John M. Slack Jr. of Charleston, a supporter of Sen. Stuart Symington who asserted:

“I fee that the action of the convention indicates that the popularity which Sen. Kennedy demonstrated in the West Virginia primary has nation-wide acceptance.

“I consider him to be a real aggressive campaigner who will be attractive to voters in both parties. I also consider this to be good for West Virginia because Sen. Kennedy knows first hand the problems we have and he is on record to do something about them.”

The dissention within the delegation developed Wednesday night when Sen. Robert C. Byrd showed up at the convention hall with a banner reading: “West Virginia Pledged to LBJ.”

Johnson had only 5 1/2 votes in the state’s 25-vote delegation.

Delegate William Bruce Hoff of Parkersburg, a Kennedy supporter, took particular offense at Byrd’s placard, asking him point black where he got the authority to pledge the delegation where it was not pledged.

“I reminded him”, said Hoff, “that he tried to do this in the primary, but he didn’t get anywhere with the West Virginia voters.”

Byrd was the leader of a pro-Johnson “Stop Kennedy” movement in the state primary, which Kennedy carried by getting more than 60 percent of the Democratic vote.

After Delegate Frank J. Maxwell of Clarksburg, another Johnson supporter, suggested that the banner might be in poor taste Byrd remained in his seat and did not take part in the demonstration after Johnson’s name had been placed in nomination.

In the presidential balloting Wednesday night, West Virginia came within an ace of moving into the national limelight by putting the Democratic nominee across.

When the state’s name was called, Kennedy had 727 votes. West Virginia gave him 15 of its 25 votes to bring him up to 742—just 19 short of the 761-vote nominating figure—and then Wyoming gained its place in the sun by putting him over the top.

Byrd, Ferguson, Maxwell, Mollohan, Lyle Smith of Huntington and National Committeeman John E. Amos (half vote) cast 5 1/2 votes for Johnson.

W. T. Brotherton and W. E. Chilton III of Charleston, and Thomas B. Miller of Wheeling cast three votes for Adlai Stevenson.

Slack and National Committeewoman Violet Snedegar (half vote) cast 1 1/2 votes for Symington.

All other West Virginia votes went to Kennedy, who considers his West Virginia primary victory to be the turning point in his campaign for the nomination.


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