Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman

By Simon W. Gerson | Go to book overview

34
Pete Tops the List

" PETE'S got it made."

That was the morning line -- race track argot for the early predictions -- when Pete and his campaigners strolled into the familiar armory for the November, 1943 ballot count.

Whether it was the sheer power Pete had displayed during the campaign, or whether the word had come down from O'Dwyer that there was to be no funny stuff -- more probably the former -- all the armory habitues knew that Pete was a sure winner this time. And that he would come in high up.

Maybe the war news helped, too. The Nazis were on the run on the Eastern front after their monumental surrender in February at Stalingrad and the Red Army was moving implacably westward, chewing up the Hitler forces. In the Pacific, the U.S. forces were making steady gains after some costly island hopping. Only the opening of the Second Front in Europe remained a major question, and Pete had pounded on the issue repeatedly during the election campaign, as did the Communist Party and a substantial body of U.S. opinion. When would the mighty U.S.-British machine hit the Nazis squarely in France and defeat Hitler's Wehrmacht by forcing it to fight on two fronts, the nightmare of the Nazi generals? Or were there those in high places who wanted the Red Army to bleed itself to death first?

These were bitter and complex questions, but Pete had not hesitated to raise them with the voters of Brooklyn. He never neglected the bread- and-butter problems, not Pete, but he knew that the war was uppermost in everyone's mind and that his fellow citizens wanted it ended quickly with the smashing of the Axis. It may not have been, in the view of some finicky people, a question within the purview of the City Council, but Pete felt that he would be derelict to his duty as an anti-Fascist if he failed to raise it. He also knew that the Second Front was basically a political

-153-

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Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2
  • Pete Made a Little History 5
  • Contents 7
  • 1 - The Argument 17
  • 2 - Boyhood in Sayre, Pa. 21
  • 3 - To New York -- via Las Vegas 24
  • 4 - Pete Gets Involved 26
  • 5 - Pete Leads a Bonus March Contingent 30
  • 6 - Brooklyn Captures Pete 34
  • 7 - Tammany Handles Relief 36
  • 8 - Seabury and Chile Acuna 39
  • 9 - Tin Boxes and Red Herrings 43
  • 10 - Class Struggle and Goo-Goos 47
  • 11 - The Fiorello Phenomenon 50
  • 12 - The Labor Party is Born 56
  • 13 - Pete and PR 61
  • 14 - Pete's First Try 67
  • 15 - The '37 Mayoralty Campaign 73
  • 16 - Election Day, 1937 79
  • 17 - The '37 Count 82
  • 18 - Towards the '39 Campaign 86
  • 19 - Marcantonio: A Man to Study 90
  • 20 - War Clouds and a Write-in Vote 99
  • 21 - From Phoney War to Anti-Fascist War 103
  • 22 - Victory in '41 112
  • 23 - Why Pete Won: Reflections 113
  • 24 - The Eagle Screams 116
  • 25 - Pete's First Council Session 120
  • 26 - Fighting Fascism and Anti-Semitism 124
  • 27 - Battling Baseball's Jim Crow 129
  • 28 - On Pete's Style of Work 132
  • 29 - Prophetic Resolutions 136
  • 30 - Defender of Italian-Americans 139
  • 31 - Widening Support 142
  • 32 - Manhattan Names Ben Davis 148
  • 33 - Tackling The Eagle and O'Dwyer 151
  • 34 - Pete Tops the List 153
  • 35 - Brooklyn to the Rescue 156
  • 36 - The Team of Two 161
  • 37 - Pete Wins a Third Term 163
  • 38 - Cold War Years 166
  • 39 - Stuyvesant Town: A Close Question 169
  • 40 the Going Gets Rougher 173
  • 41 - The Cardinal and the Council 177
  • 42 - The Year of the Long Knives 182
  • 43 - PR: Cold War Casualty 187
  • 44 - A Day of Civic Mourning 192
  • 45 - The Succession Fight 196
  • 46 - Running for Pete's Seat 203
  • 47 - An Afterword 204
  • Index 211
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