Election Day, 1937
ELECTION night, November 2, exploded in triumph for the anti- Tammany coalition. Fiorello LaGuardia was reelected overwhelmingly -- the first time in the city's history that an anti-Tammany mayor had won twice in a row -- and the ALP emerged as a major force in New York politics. Tammany had played all its cards, some of them wild ones, to no avail. It had unleashed a massive red-baiting drive by which it hoped to stampede Catholic workers in particular, but the phoney "Anti-Communist" and "Trades Union" parties had brought Mahoney virtually nothing. Tammany's candidate had been rejected in virtually every section of the population by workers and middle class and nearly every ethnic group. The anti-Tammany coalition had not become unglued.
Fiorello, no doubt, was a political virtuoso. He had foreseen the potential of the American Labor Party, which was the first to nominate him for reelection. Then, with the strong aid of Samuel Seabury, liberal Republican leader Kenneth Simpson and a few others, he got the GOP nomination. (Only the following spring, when the enrollment books were published, did it become known that LaGuardia had quietly shucked his Republican garb and enrolled as an ALP er. From alliance with the New Deal and FDR he had moved somewhat leftward to the ALP.)
At the same time he figured he could not do without the GOP line. Even in Democratic New York there were still about a half-million traditionalists around who voted the Republican ticket. Then, of course, there was the City Fusion Party line, given him by a small group that had trademarked the ancient label. Finally, he got on the Progressive line, put together by a few oddlot Democrats, some of whom were in his administration, and, anyway, didn't fit in anywhere else.
Obviously the victory was due to more than astute political mechanics. Tremendous social forces had come into play. The great unemployed movement, the CIO drive to organize the unorganized workers, the