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Grafton Sentinel
April 14, 1960


Spotlight on West Virginia

The whole field of candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination seem to have made up their minds that West Virginia is the crucial state in the pre-convention maneuvering for delegates and that the May 10 primary in this state will just about determine the nomination itself.

Senator Robert C. Byrd, one of the two Democratic Senators of this state, expressed this political fact in this way to an interviewer in the state capital, Charleston: "Everybody knows who I am for (his personal choice is Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas). When a voter asks my advice, I say that if you are for Senator Kennedy, that's fine. But if you are for Adlai E. Stevenson, Senator Stuart Symington, Senator Johnson or John Doe you better remember this primary, with all the national attention on it, may be your last chance."

With Senator Jennings Randolph facing a fight for reelection, Senator Byrd is the focal point for the massed effort of all the presidential candidates to try to end Kennedy's string of primary victories at two - New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota again is his sole opponent on the ballot, but his real opponents are all the numerous other candidates for the nomination.

Kennedy is in the state this week campaigning hard. He accepts the challenge, openly stated, that with less than 5 per cent of the population Catholics, West Virginia offers the acid test of whether he can win on his own merits without the Catholic vote which helped him so much in Wisconsin. The Ku Klux Klan was once strong in the state and Byrd acknowledged to a brief membership in it many years ago.

All Kennedy's rivals are rallying behind Humphrey because they discount him as a serious threat since he lost Wisconsin to Kennedy by 106,000 votes. Humphrey admitted he has shot the works in Wisconsin, which cost him $120,000. But he is using public money to win votes in West Virginia - he promises Federal assistance to put all the unemployed back to work, to reopen the mines which employed 200,000 ten years ago and now give work only to 40,000, and to make it possible for the 250,000 receiving Federal food surplus to get off relief.

West Virginia is going to be a drag down, no holds barred fight, with all the Democratic candidates involved more or less openly to try to stop Kennedy.

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