Election 1944: Belgium-educated Negro seeks Smith’s Senate seat (9-1-44)

Reading Eagle (September 1, 1944)


Belgium-educated Negro seeks Smith’s Senate seat

Columbia, South Carolina (UP) –
A Belgium-educated South Carolina Negro – competing against a Democratic governor and a Republican for the South Carolina Senate seat of E. D. “Cotton Ed” Smith – expressed confidence today that he has “a fighting chance” to beat the field in the November general election.

The Negro, 51-year-old Osceola McKaine of Sumter, was nominated Wednesday by the Progress (Negro) Democratic Party and was believed to be the first member of his race to seek public office in the state on a Democratic ticket.

His opponents will be Governor Olin D. Johnston, who defeated Smith in the recent state Democratic primary, and James B. Gaston, the GOP nominee.

Following his defeat, there was widespread speculation that “Cotton Ed,” colorful veteran of six terms in the Senate and a violent critic of the Roosevelt administration might run in the November election on the ticket of the anti-New Deal “Southern” Democratic Party to fill out its slate of candidates.

Chairman J. K. Breedin of the Southern Democrats emphasized, however, that with the exception of presidential electors his group would support choices of the regular Democrats.

McKaine was educated in Boston and Belgium and did newspaper work in New York City before returning to his home state in 1940 where he has since been associate editor of the Lighthouse and Informer, Columbia Negro newspaper. He has recently been active in a fight to pull salaries of Negro schoolteachers up to the level of white teachers.

In the last war, McKaine was a first lieutenant with the 367th Infantry Division in France.

Yesterday, the Progressives also named a slate of presidential electors, pledged to President Roosevelt and candidates for Congress from each of the state’s six districts.