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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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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