Election 1944: Fayette County, PA, miners still favor FDR (10-26-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 26, 1944)


Despite Lewis –
Fayette miners still favor fourth term

But GOP leaders hope for inroads
By Robert Taylor, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Uniontown, Pennsylvania –
Fayette County has the largest group of soft coal miners in Pennsylvania – 20,000 of them – and they are defying the wishes of John L. Lewis, the United Mine Workers chieftain, to support President Roosevelt for the fourth time.

Not only do rank and file miners attend Democratic rallies, but local unions in the coal fields have formally endorsed Mr. Roosevelt.

In the face of these indications of the sentiment of the miners, the UMW district officials – all appointees of Mr. Lewis, as District 4 has no autonomy – have formally adopted an attitude of neutrality.

Officials keep silent

District President William Hines and other officials have taken the position that, since the recent UMW convention, at which Mr. Lewis denounced the Roosevelt administration, endorsed no candidates, they will follow the lead and refuse to endorse a candidate.

In other coal districts, UMW officials attend Republican rallies and give other evidence of supporting Mr. Lewis’ opposition to the New Deal, but here none of the District officials speak for candidates. The officials concede that some of their locals have declared for the President and maintain they are keeping hands off the campaign.

Republicans, facing a Democratic registration majority in the county of 15,248, and a two-year record of Democratic vote majorities which included victories in local, state and national elections, are hoping for at least a share of the miner vote.

Figures quoted

To the extent that they are able to get miner votes – the dominant factor in Fayette County elections – the Republicans can cut down the expected Democratic majority, estimated now at from 7,000 to 10,000 as compared with a 1940 majority of 18,052.

At the depth of the depression, half the population of the county was on relief and no group of voters in Pennsylvania has given more unswerving loyalty to Mr. Roosevelt than this county’s miners.

In 1932, he got a majority of 11,759 here, and in 1933, the miners struck for what they contended was support of the NRA which featured Mr. Roosevelt’s first term. In 1936, he got a majority of 26.307. In 1934, Governor George H. Earle got a majority of 12,127, in 1938, Democrats got a 7,328 majority for Governor and, in 1942, Fayette was one of 11 counties that went Democratic, by 2,092.

Congressional race

The most promising candidate for the Republicans is Carl H. Hoffman, Somerset businessman running against Democrat Rep. J. Buell Snyder for the Congressional seat in the Somerset-Fayette District.

Two years ago, the Congressional district consisted of Somerset, Fayette and Democratic Greene County, and Mr. Snyder, running for his sixth term, nosed out Mr. Hoffman by 1,466 votes in 65,494. With the last reapportionment, the district now consists only of Republican Somerset and Democratic Fayette, and Mr. Hoffman’s chances are rated as better.

The 1942 vote, however, was lighter than usual and the Nov. 7 vote is expected to be heavy. Accordingly, Mr. Snyder is given the advantage because of Fayette’s larger voter population. Four Democrats are favored for election to the State Legislature in Fayette.