Nomination by Primary

August 19, 1938

Report Outline
New Effort to Control Congressional Primaries
Presidential Intervention in Party Primaries
State Regulation of Primary Elections
Proposals for Federal Control of Primaries

New Effort to Control Congressional Primaries

Legislation to impose federal control over the conduct of congressional primary elections in the states will be recommended to the next Congress by the special Senate Committee on Campaign Expenditures. This was made known by Senator Sheppard (D., Tex.), chairman, on August 8, after the committee's investigation of 1938 Democratic primary contests in Kentucky, Tennessee, and a number of other states had brought to light evidence of “gutter politics” and “scandal of the worst sort.”

Although Sheppard expressed belief that a constitutional amendment authorizing Congress to prescribe the manner of conducting primary elections and conventions would be the most effective method of imposing federal control, he said the committee probably would recommend legislation to amend the Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, the provisions of which now apply only to general elections. A constitutional amendment proposed by Congress in 1939 would stand little chance of adoption by three-fourths of the states in time to allow enactment of legislation that would apply to 1940 primary campaigns.

Revelation of Corrupt Practices in 1938 Primaries

Preliminary reports of the Senate Campaign Expenditures Committee on the conduct of Democratic primary contests in Tennessee and Kentucky constitute the most scathing indictment of election methods by a congressional committee since 1926, when William S. Vare and Frank L. Smith were found guilty of election frauds and denied seats in the Senate. After receiving reports from special investigators sent to Tennessee, the committee said, July 27, that “the evidence already before it with respect to assessments of federal employees by one group participating in the Democratic primary contest for United States Senator and of state employees by the other group, points sharply toward an election contest in the United States Senate regardless of which group' candidate triumphs.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 31, 2020  Presidential Primaries
Nov. 16, 2018  The Presidency
Jan. 06, 2017  Trump Presidency
Mar. 06, 2015  Presidential Power
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Jan. 30, 2009  The Obama Presidency
Aug. 08, 2008  Political Conventions
Jul. 18, 2008  Race and Politics
Apr. 20, 2007  Electing the President
Dec. 30, 1988  Promises vs. Problems
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Nov. 30, 1955  Presidential Possibilities, 1956
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Jan. 16, 1952  Presidential Primaries, 1952
Oct. 12, 1949  Modernization of the Presidential Election
Jan. 14, 1948  Presidential Primaries
May 01, 1944  Foreign Policy in National Elections
Jan. 01, 1944  Choice of Candidates for the Presidency
Apr. 08, 1940  Republican Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Apr. 01, 1940  Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Jun. 19, 1939  Selection of Nominees for the Presidency
Aug. 19, 1938  Nomination by Primary
Mar. 11, 1936  Voting in Presidential Elections
Feb. 18, 1936  Presidential Candidates, 1936
Mar. 03, 1932  Decline of the Presidential Primary
Aug. 25, 1931  Presidential Candidates, 1932
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