1955 Philadelphia municipal election

Last updated

Philadelphia's municipal election of November 8, 1955, involved contests for mayor, district attorney, all seventeen city council seats, among other offices. Citywide, the Democrats took majorities of over 130,000 votes, continuing their success from the elections four years earlier. Richardson Dilworth, who had been elected district attorney in 1951, was elected mayor. Victor H. Blanc, a city councilman, was elected district attorney. The Democrats also kept fourteen of seventeen city council seats, losing one district seat while gaining another, and kept control of the other citywide offices. The election represented a further consolidation of control by the Democrats after their citywide victories of four years earlier.

Contents

Mayor

Philadelphia mayoral election, 1955
Flag of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.svg
  1951 November 8, 1955 1959  
  Richardson Dilworth.jpg 3x4.svg
Nominee Richardson Dilworth Thacher Longstreth
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote423,035290,329
Percentage59.30%40.70%

1955PhiladelphiaMayorByWard.png
Ward-level results in the mayor's race, with Dilworth in blue and Longstreth in red

Mayor before election

Joseph S. Clark Jr.
Democratic

Elected Mayor

Richardson Dilworth
Democratic

In the mayor's race, incumbent Democrat Joseph S. Clark Jr., who had earlier declared he would serve only one term, did not run for reelection. [1] He instead ran for election to the United States Senate in 1956 and was successful, serving in the Senate for twelve years. [1] For the open seat, Democrat Richardson Dilworth ran against Republican Thacher Longstreth. [2]

After service in World War I and a law degree from Yale, Dilworth practiced law in Philadelphia. [3] He and Clark were allies in the anti-corruption reform effort that had swept the city four years earlier. [3] Dilworth had run for mayor unsuccessfully in 1947, with Clark as his campaign manager. In 1949, he was elected City Treasurer. He resigned that post to run for governor in 1950, but was defeated by Republican John S. Fine. [2] Democratic party leaders had intended Dilworth to be their candidate for mayor again in 1951, but when Clark announced his candidacy, Dilworth agreed to run for district attorney instead. [1] He won, taking just shy of 58% of the vote. [4] In the primary election in May, Dilworth easily defeated his underfunded opponent, William A. Paschall, a local meat dealer. [5]

The Republicans nominated Thacher Longstreth, a 35-year-old advertising executive who had never run for office before. [2] He emerged the victor of a four-way primary contest over George P. Williams (the Republican leadership's preferred candidate), city magistrate James J. Clothier, and Oscar H. Newman, a deputy constable. [5] Longstreth's campaign got off to a rocky start when he broke with the city Republican organization over their failure to elect his preferred candidate, John M. Pomeroy, as chairman of the Republican City Committee. [6] Although he did receive a campaign visit and endorsement from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Longstreth had little other assistance from the Republican party machine and ran as an "Independent Republican". [2] Republicans still held an edge in voter registration in 1955, but their share of the electorate continued to decline over previous years. [7]

The result was a landslide for Dilworth. [2] In an election with higher than expected turnout, the Democrat took 59% of the vote, a slight increase over the party's tally from the mayoral contest of four years earlier. [2] The Democrats carried 44 of the city's 52 wards. [8] Longstreth conceded defeat early in the evening, and said that he hoped for "an administration that will be good for all people and the progress of our great city". [9] The Philadelphia Inquirer described the result as "a ringing indorsement [sic] of the policies of Mayor Joseph S. Clark, Jr., whose Democratic administration was the key issue in the Fall ballot drive." [9]

Philadelphia mayoral election, 1955 [10]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Richardson Dilworth 423,035 59.30 +1.24
Republican Thacher Longstreth 290,32940.70−1.24

District Attorney

Philadelphia District Attorney election, 1955
Flag of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.svg
  1951
1957  
  3x4.svg
Nominee Victor H. Blanc Wilhelm F. Knauer
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote425,362282,176
Percentage60.19%39.81%

District Attorney before election

Richardson Dilworth
Democratic

Elected District Attorney

Victor H. Blanc
Democratic

For the open office of district attorney, vacated by Dilworth when he ran for mayor, the Democrats nominated city councilman Victor H. Blanc against the Republicans' Wilhelm F. Knauer. Blanc, a veteran of both World Wars and former assistant district attorney, had been elected to city council in an at-large seat in 1951. [11] During his time on the council, he was in charge of an investigation into corruption in construction at Philadelphia International Airport. [11] Knauer, a state deputy attorney general, was a long-time Republican party leader. His wife, Virginia Knauer, would later be elected to city council. As in the mayor's race, the Democrats were victorious, and Blanc was elected. His vote totals led the Democratic ticket, exceeding even Dilworth's numbers. [8]

Philadelphia district attorney election, 1955 [10]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Victor H. Blanc 425,362 60.19 +2.25
Republican Wilhelm F. Knauer282,17639.81−2.25

City Council

Philadelphians elected a seventeen-member city council in 1955, with ten members representing districts of the city, and the remaining seven being elected at-large. For the at-large seats, each political party could nominate five candidates, and voters could only vote for five, with the result being that the majority party could only take five of the seven seats, leaving two for the minority party. The Democrats' citywide dominance continued into the city council races, as they retained control of nine of ten districts and five of seven at-large seats. [11]

In the at-large races, the two incumbent Democratic candidates, Victor E. Moore and Paul D'Ortona, led the ticket. Three other Democrats were also elected: John F. Byrne Sr., who had previously been councilman for the 10th district; Henry W. Sawyer, a civil rights lawyer; and Marshall L. Shepard, a clergyman who had served as Commissioner of Records. [12] On the Republican side, incumbent at-large councilman Louis Schwartz was re-elected. The other Republican incumbent, Donald C. Rubel, who had won a special election as an independent Republican backed by Democrats, lost his spot to Thomas M. Foglietta, a young lawyer and son of former councilman Michael Foglietta. [12] Also losing bids for the Republican at-large seats were real estate assessor F. Raymond Heuges and former magistrate Hobson R. Reynolds. [11]

At the district level, Democratic incumbents Thomas I. Guerin (district 1), Harry Norwitch (district 3), Samuel Rose (district 4), Raymond Pace Alexander (district 5), Michael J. Towey (district 6), James Hugh Joseph Tate (district 7), and Charles M. Finley (district 9) were all reelected. In the 2nd district, Democrat Gaetano Giordano took the seat from Republican David Zwanetz, who was nominated when incumbent Republican William M. Phillips did not run for reelection. In the 8th, the Republicans evened the score as state representative Wilbur H. Hamilton narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Constance Dallas. Hamilton's brother, Robert S. Hamilton, had lost to Dallas four years earlier. In the final district council seat, the 10th, Democrat John M. McDevitt was elected to the seat previously held by Byrne. [11] The Inquirer called the Democratic downballot victories "a rebuke to Republican leaders who sought to tie in the campaign with the 1956 Presidential election," and credited the Democrats with campaigning "on the theory that the issues were purely local." [9]

At-large vote share by party

   Democratic (59.83%)
   Republican (40.17%)
Philadelphia city council election, at large, 1955 [10]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Victor E. Moore (incumbent) 422,297 12.01 +0.43
Democratic Paul D'Ortona (incumbent) 422,234 12.01 +0.47
Democratic John F. Byrne Sr. 420,556 11.96
Democratic Henry W. Sawyer 419,835 11.94
Democratic Marshall L. Shepard 418,001 11.89
Republican Thomas M. Foglietta 286,334 8.15
Republican Louis Schwartz 283,300 8.06 −0.40
Republican F. Raymond Heuges 281,2508.00
Republican Donald C. Rubel 281,2308.00
Republican Hobson R. Reynolds 279,9637.96
Philadelphia city council districts after the 1955 election (Democrats in blue, Republicans in red) Philadelphia city council districts 1955.png
Philadelphia city council districts after the 1955 election (Democrats in blue, Republicans in red)
Philadelphia city council election, district 1, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Thomas I. Guerin (incumbent) 43,320 62.22 +4.44
Republican David A. Kraftsow26,30237.78−4.44
Philadelphia city council election, district 2, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Gaetano Giordano 40,524 58.75 +17.35
Republican David Zwanetz28,45341.25−17.35
Philadelphia city council election, district 3, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Harry Norwitch (incumbent) 44,079 59.59 −2.18
Republican Joseph P. McSweeny29,89640.41+2.18
Philadelphia city council election, district 4, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Samuel Rose (incumbent) 44,106 68.58 +6.58
Republican David E. Brodsky20,20331.42−6.58
Philadelphia city council election, district 5, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Raymond Pace Alexander (incumbent) 36,959 70.27 +12.17
Republican William Lynch15,63429.73−12.17
Philadelphia city council election, district 6, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Michael J. Towey (incumbent) 41,866 56.79 +1.74
Republican Frederick W. Schmidt31,85743.21−1.74
Philadelphia city council election, district 7, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic James Hugh Joseph Tate (incumbent) 43,921 62.51 +0.53
Republican Charles K. Miller26,34137.49−0.53
Philadelphia city council election, district 8, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Republican Wilbur H. Hamilton 30,086 49.95 +4.06
Democratic Constance Dallas 29,63049.19−4.92
ConstitutionJ. Warren Keel5200.86+0.86
Philadelphia city council election, district 9, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Charles M. Finley (incumbent) 49,750 61.61 −1.77
Republican Arthur M. Soll30,99738.39+1.77
Philadelphia city council election, district 10, 1955 [13]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic John M. McDevitt 50,126 54.54 −5.82
Republican Louis R. Iannarelli41,78745.46+5.82

Other offices and ballot measures

The Democrats' success continued in the down-ballot races. Democratic city commissioners Maurice S. Osser and Thomas P. McHenry were reelected as was Republican Walter I. Davidson. William M. Lennox was reelected county sheriff and Joseph A. Scanlon was reelected clerk of the court of quarter sessions (a court whose jurisdiction is now exercised by the court of common pleas). [10] The Democrats also took four of the seven magisterial district judge positions up for election that year (a local court, the duties of which are now performed by the Philadelphia Municipal Court). [8] The ballot contained two referendums authorizing the city to take loans for construction of medical facilities, streets, sewers, playgrounds, and other civic improvements. They passed with overwhelming support, each tallying 84% affirmative votes. [14]

Philadelphia city commissioners, 1955 [10]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Maurice S. Osser (incumbent) 421,134 29.86 +0.99
Democratic Thomas P. McHenry (incumbent) 421,054 29.86 +0.98
Republican Walter I. Davidson 284,602 20.18 -0.96
Republican John J. McGarvey283,43920.01-1.11
Philadelphia sheriff election, 1955 [15]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic William M. Lennox 420,206 59.81 +1.99
Republican J. Russell Gibbons282,35940.19-1.99
Philadelphia clerk of courts election, 1955 [15]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic Joseph A. Scanlon 415,346 59.85 +2.20
Republican Nicholas A. Cipriani278,67440.15-2.20

See also

Related Research Articles

Joseph S. Clark Jr. American politician, lawyer, and author

Joseph Sill Clark Jr. was an American author, lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 116th Mayor of Philadelphia from 1952 to 1956 and as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania from 1957 to 1969. Clark was the only Unitarian Universalist elected to a major office in Pennsylvania in the modern era.

Richardson Dilworth American politician

Richardson K. Dilworth was an American Democratic Party politician who served as the 117th mayor of Philadelphia from 1956 to 1962. He twice ran as the Democratic nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, in 1950 and in 1962. He is to date the last White Anglo-Saxon Protestant mayor of Philadelphia.

William Thacher Longstreth was a Republican member of the Philadelphia City Council who was perhaps best known for his long tenure and unique image.

2015 Philadelphia mayoral election 2015 mayoral election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The 2015 Philadelphia mayoral election was held on November 3, 2015, to elect the Mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, concurrently with various other state and local elections. Heavily favored Democratic party candidate Jim Kenney won.

Harry Norwitch

Harry Norwitch was an organized labor leader and Democratic politician from Philadelphia.

1951 Philadelphia municipal election 1951 municipal election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia's municipal election held on November 6, 1951, was the first under the city's new charter, which had been approved by the voters in April, and the first Democratic victory in the city in more than a half-century. The positions contested were those of mayor and district attorney, and all seventeen city council seats. There was also a referendum on whether to consolidate the city and county governments. Citywide, the Democrats took majorities of over 100,000 votes, breaking a 67-year Republican hold on city government. Joseph S. Clark Jr. and Richardson Dilworth, two of the main movers for the charter reform, were elected mayor and district attorney, respectively. Led by local party chairman James A. Finnegan, the Democrats also took fourteen of seventeen city council seats, and all of the citywide offices on the ballot. A referendum on city-county consolidation passed by a wide margin. The election marked the beginning of Democratic dominance of Philadelphia city politics, which continues today.

Donald Clarke Rubel was a Philadelphia banker and politician.

Victor H. Blanc American politician and lawyer

Victor Hugo Blanc was a Democratic lawyer and politician from Philadelphia.

William M. Phillips

William Milton Phillips was a Republican businessman and politician from Philadelphia.

1953 Philadelphia municipal election

Philadelphia's municipal election of November 3, 1953, was the second held under the city charter of 1951 and represented the first test of the Democratic city government of Mayor Joseph S. Clark Jr. In the 1951 election, the voters had elected a Democratic mayor for the first time in 67 years, breaking the Republican hold on political power in the city. They had also elected a majority-Democratic City Council along with Democrats for district attorney and other citywide offices. In 1953, the voters had the chance to continue the Democratic trend or to block it in the election for City Controller, Register of Wills, and various judges and magistrates. On election day, the Republican organization recovered from their 1951 losses, electing all their candidates citywide. Republicans celebrated the victory, but subsequent Democratic triumphs in the 1955 and 1959 elections made the 1953 result more of an aberration than a true comeback for the once-powerful Philadelphia Republican machine.

1957 Philadelphia municipal election

Philadelphia's municipal election of November 5, 1957, involved the election of the district attorney, city controller, and the remainder of a term for one city council seat, as well as several row offices and judgeships. Democrats were successful citywide, continuing a run of victories racked up after the passage of a new city charter in 1951 despite growing divisions between factions of the party. Victor H. Blanc, the incumbent district attorney, led the Democratic ticket to victory. They held the city council seat and took two citywide offices that Republicans had won in 1953. In the judges' elections, most were endorsed by both parties but in the one race that pitted a Democratic candidate against a Republican, the Democrats were successful in seating their candidate, former Congressman Earl Chudoff.

1959 Philadelphia municipal election 1959 municipal election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia's municipal election of November 3, 1959 involved contests for mayor, all seventeen city council seats, and several other executive and judicial offices. Citywide, the Democrats took majorities of over 200,000 votes, continuing their success from the elections four years earlier. Richardson Dilworth, who had been elected mayor in 1955, was re-elected over Republican nominee Harold Stassen. The Democrats also took fifteen of seventeen city council seats, the most seats allowed to any one party under the 1951 city charter. They further kept control of the other citywide offices. The election represented a continued consolidation of control by the Democrats after their citywide victories of the previous eight years.

1960 Philadelphia City Council special election

Philadelphia's City Council special election of 1960 was held to fill two vacant city council seats. The first was in the 4th district, when Democrat Samuel Rose died in January 1960. A second vacancy that same year occurred in the 6th district when Democrat Michael J. Towey died suddenly in September 29. Special elections were scheduled for November 8, 1960, to be held at the same time as the national election that year. Both seats were easily held by the Democratic Party.

William A. Dwyer Jr.

William Aloysius Dwyer Jr. was an American lawyer, judge, and Democratic politician from Philadelphia. He served on the Philadelphia City Council from 1960 to 1963 and on the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas from 1967 until his death in 1982.

1961 Philadelphia municipal election

Philadelphia's municipal election of November 7, 1961, involved the election of the district attorney, city controller, and several judgeships. Democrats swept all of the city races but saw their vote totals much reduced from those of four years earlier, owing to a growing graft scandal in city government. District Attorney James C. Crumlish, Jr. and City Controller Alexander Hemphill, both incumbents, were returned to office. Several ballot questions were also approved, including one permitting limited sales of alcohol on Sundays.

Alexander Hemphill

Alexander Hemphill was a Democratic lawyer and politician from Philadelphia who served as City Controller from 1958 to 1968. After service in World War II and graduation from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Hemphill embarked on a legal career before running for office. In his three terms as city controller, he exposed corruption and malfeasance, often to the discomfort of his fellow Democrats. He ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 1967 against the incumbent Democrat, James H. J. Tate, but was unsuccessful, and retired to a private law practice until his death in 1986.

Thomas McIntosh (politician)

Thomas McIntosh was a Democratic politician from Philadelphia who served three terms on the Philadelphia City Council.

1962 Philadelphia City Council special election

Philadelphia's City Council special election of 1962 was held to fill three vacant city council seats. The first was in the 8th district, when Democrat Alfred Leopold Luongo was appointed to the federal bench in September 1961. A second vacancy that same year occurred in the 10th district when Democrat John M. McDevitt resigned in June 1962 to become a Catholic priest. An at-large seat also became vacant when Victor E. Moore resigned in September 1962 to become the head of the Philadelphia Gas Works. Special elections were scheduled for November 6, 1962, to be held at the same time as the federal and gubernatorial elections that year. Democrats held two of the seats but lost the 8th district to a Republican.

1963 Philadelphia municipal election

Philadelphia's municipal election of November 5, 1963, involved contests for mayor, all seventeen city council seats, and several other executive and judicial offices. The Democrats lost vote share citywide and the Republicans gained one seat in City Council, but the Democratic acting mayor, James Hugh Joseph Tate, was elected to a full term and his party maintained their hold on the city government. The election was the first decline in the Democrats' share of the vote since they took control of the city government in the 1951 elections, and showed the growing tension between the reformers and ward bosses within their party.

Walter S. Pytko

Walter Stanley Pytko was a Democratic politician from Philadelphia. Active in Polish-American groups in Philadelphia's Bridesburg neighborhood, Pytko also became involved in local politics. He served one term in the Pennsylvania State Senate in the 1930s and worked in various government agencies through the 1940s and 1950s. In 1962, he was elected to the Philadelphia City Council, where he served until retiring in 1968.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Neal 1990.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Daily Times 1955b.
  3. 1 2 Mayer 2010, p. 149.
  4. Miller 1951.
  5. 1 2 Loftus 1955.
  6. Daily Times 1955a.
  7. Bulletin Almanac 1956, p. 28.
  8. 1 2 3 Bulletin Almanac 1956, p. 27.
  9. 1 2 3 Inquirer 1955c.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Bulletin Almanac 1956, p. 25.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Inquirer 1955b.
  12. 1 2 Inquirer 1955a.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Bulletin Almanac 1956, p. 26.
  14. Inquirer 1955d.
  15. 1 2 Inquirer 1955e.

Sources

Book

Newspapers