Party Politics in the Golden State

Party Politics in the Golden State

Party Politics in the Golden State

Party Politics in the Golden State


What is the party organization in California? What does it do? Who are the "bosses"? How significant is "the organization" in relation to other political groups? No one, so far as I have been able to discover, has provided a systematic discussion of party organization in California.

The subject does not, however, lend itself to precise analysis. Patterns of political behavior vary from locality to locality and from time to time. The web of human relationships is more often than not incapable of being measured. Reliable evidence of political activity is not widely available. This study, then, is an approximation, based on incomplete information, of party organizations in California at mid-century.

Statutes, court reports, articles, and news accounts on California politics were consulted, but the principal source of information was the politicians.

During a period of ten months in 1950 and 1951, I interviewed (and these include past as well as present officials) four state party chairmen, three national committeemen, thirteen delegates to national conventions, two state party executive secretaries, four state officials of extralegal party groups, one governor, eight state legislators including majority and minority floor leaders, and several county committeemen, candidates, campaign managers, lobbyists, and anyone willing to "talk politics."

In conducting the interviews, I followed procedures described by Alexander Heard in his helpful article, Interviewing Southern Politicians, in The American Political Science Review. An attempt was made to keep talks on an informal, off-the-record basis. Informants were assured that they would not be quoted by name. Note-taking was avoided during interviews, although a written report of each interview was made as soon afterward as possible. None of the people to whom I appealed for help refused to see me. Several sacrificed time during busy daily schedules, and frequently an informant who said that he could allow me only a few minutes was willing, once the interview got under way, to talk for several hours.

In addition, questionnaires were mailed to all of the 159 county central committee chairmen. Fifty-eight replied. Forty-four of the fifty- eight counties were represented in the replies. Twenty-five Democratic and thirty-three Republican committeemen answered. In addition to answering the questionnaires, a considerable number of the committeemen sent letters, speeches, and articles pertaining to party politics.

I attended the state conventions and the state central committee meet-

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