Newspaper Articles

Charleston Gazette
January 26, 1960

Editorials -

Harry G. Hoffman's Politics

Primary Won't Elect President

It now appears certain that there will be no presidential contest in the West Virginia primary.

Minnesota's Sen. Hubert Humphrey, one of the Democratic hopefuls, said on a visit to Charleston Monday that he has no plans to file in this state unless there is a contest.

And, the word from Washington Monday night was that Sen. John Kennedy is of the same mind; he won't file unless someone else does, notably Humphrey.

Since Humphrey and Kennedy have been the two Democrats most interested in primaries, it is hardly likely that anyone will come forth to entice them in.

This comes as no great surprise, since West Virginia is one of the smaller states in votes and influence at a national convention and since all of its delegates go to the convention unpledged.

In short, a candidate could win a unanimous vote in a West Virginia primary and not one delegate would be compelled to vote for him.

Naturally, neither Kennedy nor Humphrey considered the West Virginia primary for the purpose of winning instructed delegates, for they both knew this was not possible under the law.

(There is a good possibility, however, that both Kennedy and Humphrey will have candidates in the field for delegate to the convention.)

Both men did give strong consideration to entering the West Virginia primary for much broader reasons.

In Kennedy's case, here was a state with a "conglomeration vote" - a state with some segments of industrial, farm, conservative, liberal and other voter shades. It is also a state where many felt Kennedy could get a pretty good test of whether his Catholicism would be a political drawback.

With Humphrey, West Virginia must have looked like a pro-labor, liberal state that would vote to his advantage. It was also one that would provide him a good testing ground against Kennedy, who had proved tremendously popular on several visits to the state.

But it appears that both men feel they can give their candidacies a sufficient test in some of the other states, particularly Wisconsin where both are entered in the primary.

Kennedy also is entered in the Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Oregon primaries, is considering plans to go into Maryland and Indiana - and it is doubtful if he will have competition from anyone except Humphrey, unless it would be Sen. Wayne Morse.

The Kennedy - Humphrey standoff gives a touch of certainty to the likelihood that no one will file for president in West Virginia this year. But that is hardly surprising - and certainly not discouraging to either Kennedy or Humphrey - in the light of past experience with those who did file in West Virginia primaries.

A look at the record would hardly encourage any one to run in a West Virginia primary - not even one who might be inclined to buck Richard Nixon for the GOP presidential nomination.

In 1956, there was no one who sought the mark of greatness in a West Virginia primary.

In 1952 there were two Republican candidates - Robert A. Taft who received 139,812 votes, and Harold E. Stassen who received 38,251 votes - and neither of whom received the Republican nomination for President.

In 1948 there were three Republican candidates - Harold E. Stassen who received 110,775 votes, and a couple of fellows named Woods Byrer who received 15,675 votes and Ellis C. Vander Pyl who received 6,735 votes - and none of whom received the Republican nomination for President.

In 1944 there was one Democratic candidate for President - Claude R. Linger of Burnsville who received 59,282 votes, but didn't get elected to anything.

Two things should hereby be proved: that you don't get elected President by running in a West Virginia primary, and that Jack Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey must be pretty smart not to run.

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