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

By Simon W. Gerson | Go to book overview

35
Brooklyn to the Rescue

PETE didn't hesitate. After a brief consultation with his campaign workers, a small rear guard of friends was left at the Brooklyn armory. Let Davis pick up the narrative:

On the fourth day (of the count in Manhattan - SWG) Pete Cacchione, his own election in Brooklyn now assured, brought his entire staff over to the Manhattan count to assist me. Soon after he arrived, I discovered that some of my Harlem districts were missing and hadn't been counted. One of the ablest of our Party election workers demanded a halt to the count, and demanded the right to search for the missing votes. He dug through the huge pile, district by district, and found not only the missing votes we knew of but also some unknown ones. In all, 1,500 votes had been stacked away, stolen right before our eyes. How perilous this was could be seen in the fact that I won by a little over 2,000 votes. It was a dramatic moment. ( Davis, op. cit.)

There is some dispute over the exact number of votes that were missing. Ben Davis wrote the above from memory more than a decade later while he was a Smith Act prisoner at Terre Haute Federal Prison. This writer's recollection -- I happened to be the election worker so generously described by Davis -- is that the figure was somewhat less.

Be that as it may, after a bit of public hell-raising with the count officials, every step of which was followed closely by a number of friendly reporters, the matter was resolved.

A contemporary account of the incident is provided by Daily Worker political reporter Harry Raymond, who was on the scene. He wrote:

And to Simon W. Gerson, my erstwhile fellow reporter on the Daily Worker, should go an award for extremely special service.

Davis might have lost the election if Si hadn't rushed over on Monday to Manhattan from the Brooklyn armory where he was watching Councilman Peter V. Cacchione's ballots, and compelled directors of the count to produce nearly a thousand votes for Ben Davis which had mysteriously gone astray. We don't say those votes were stolen. But they were not on the Davis table.

-156-

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