Civil Rights Debate and Negro Militancy
Entry of Race Issue in Presidential Primaries
Capture by gov. george c. wallace of Alabama of more than one-third of the votes cast in the Wisconsin Democratic presidential preference primary on April 7, and of 30 per cent of the votes cast on the Democratic side in the similar Indiana primary on May 5, seems to give substance to the contention that Negro agitation for equal rights has begun to produce a “backlash” reaction among white northerners. Wallace's next encounter with voters beyond the confines of his own state will be in Maryland's presidential preference primary on May 19.
The Alabama governor, determined foe of racial desegregation, entered the primaries of the two midwestern states and of the border state of Maryland as a means of protesting what he considers federal encroachment on states' rights as exemplified by the House-passed civil rights bill now under debate in the Senate. Wallace said originally that he would be content to get 25,000 votes in Wisconsin; he actually received more than 10 times that number.
In Wisconsin, and to some extent also in Indiana, the governor benefited from votes of Republicans who “crossed over” into the Democratic primary either to express their support of Wallace's racial views or to embarrass the Democrats. In Maryland, only Democrats will be allowed to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. Consequently, the results of the contest between Wallace and U.S. Sen. Daniel B. Erewster, who is running as a stand-in for President Johnson, may give a more accurate indication of the southern governor's strength and, indirectly, of the strength of anti-civil rights sentiment outside the Deep South.