Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, 1940

April 1, 1940

Report Outline
Third-Term Issue in Presidential Primaries
Proposal of Hull as Harmony Candidate
Outline of Career; Promotion of Tariff Reciprocity
Candidacies of Garner and Farley
Security Administrator Paul V. Mcnutt
Wheeler and Other Potential Candidates

Third-Term Issue in Presidential Primaries

Important tests of popular sentiment toward a third term for President Roosevelt will be provided by the advisory presidential primaries to be held April 2 in Wisconsin and April 9 in Illinois. In those states there is a contest for choice of delegates to the Democratic national convention limited to Roosevelt and Garner supporters; no slates of delegates favoring other Democratic candidates have been put forward. In Wisconsin the situation is complicated by entrance of two slates of Roosevelt delegates and by the fact that Progressive voters may cast their ballots in either the Democratic or Republican primary. In Illinois, on the other hand, there will be a straight Roosevelt-Garner contest.

Although the President himself has made no move to obtain delegate support at the Democratic convention, he has done nothing to discourage such moves by others acting in his behalf. In the first presidential primary, March 12, New Hampshire Democrats elected a solid slate of eight Roosevelt-pledged delegates. On March 27 the Maine Democratic convention chose a delegation instructed to cast that state's ten votes for Roosevelt or, if he does not run, for Farley. Capture of the 24 votes of Wisconsin and the 58 votes of Illinois would give Roosevelt a starter of 100 votes, a number likely to be increased as other state conventions and primaries are held, unless the President in the meantime takes himself out of the running.

The pre-convention campaign situation on the Democratic side has been held in suspense by Roosevelt's failure to declare whether or not he will be a candidate. Until recently, Vice President Garner alone had announced his determination to seek the Democratic nomination regardless of the President's decision. On March 20, however, Postmaster General Farley made a statement which was interpreted as putting him in the race without qualification. Other Democratic contenders, such as McNutt and Wheeler, have made their candidacies conditional upon the President's not seeking a third term. Should Roosevelt be renominated, his challenge of the tradition against a third term would doubtless become the paramount issue of the presidential campaign.

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