Election 1944: Lewis may state Presidency views (9-11-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 11, 1944)


Lewis may state Presidency views

UMW chief will keynote convention
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer

Washington –
Watch tomorrow’s meeting of the United Mine Workers of America convention in Cincinnati for a tip on John L. Lewis’ presidential campaign year plans and views.

Mr. Lewis, UMW president, will keynote the convention tomorrow. His speech should indicate how active he expects to be, if at all, in the campaign to put Governor Thomas E. Dewey in the White House.

Endorsing Mr. Dewey would not come easily to the mien chieftain and he may not do so. But his union publications have spoken favorably of the Republican presidential candidate and if Mr. Lewis does not support Mr. Dewey, he will have no candidate at all this year.

The break between Mr. Lewis and President Roosevelt after the 1936 election, in which Mr. Lewis caused labor loans and gifts of $500,000 or so to be advanced to the New Deal, has never mended.

Four years ago, Mr. Lewis formalized the breach by endorsing Wendell L. Willkie, the GOP presidential candidate.

At that time, Mr. Lewis summoned the CIO, of which he then was the lead, to follow his leadership and promised to resign if Mr. Willkie lost. He made good on that pledge when the returns were in.

Some months ago, during the pre-convention campaign, Mr. Willkie told a group of newspapermen here that he would repudiate Mr. Lewis’ support if he were renominated this time and it were offered. He said he regretted not having done so in 1940.

There are about 500,000 UMW members. Mr. Lewis was unable to swing the big CIO behind the Republican candidate in 1940, but his hold on the miners is stronger. They have on occasion followed him with spectacular political effect.

About 190,000 UMW members vote in Pennsylvania where Mr. Roosevelt is currently believed to have an advantage and where Mr. Dewey must overtake and pass him if he is to win next November.