Actually it was more than their common anti-Fascist views that linked the two men. Pete admired Marc's political courage in defending labor, the jobless, the poor, and the rebels against the Establishment, and never quailing before red-baiting. What really awed Pete, however, was Marc's uncanny capacity to develop effective independent political machinery within and outside the jungle of old party politics. Marc had learned the art of political survival -- as a progressive, no mean art.
For Pete, Marc was a man not only to be admired; he was a man to be studied. From direct observation Pete learned the secret of Marc's strength -- his unbreakable links with the community in which he had grown up and his defense of their interests. Marc knew them all in East Harlem: bricklayers, plasterers, dressmakers, firemen, cops, shopkeepers, yes, even the mobsters -- who knew enough to keep their hands off a man they couldn't buy. They were all his neighbors and friends; he knew their griefs and joys and their problems with bosses, landlords, immigration authorities and city bureaucrats. And his door was always open to them to help resolve their problems.
Born in East Harlem, its tenement warrens then populated principally by first and second generation Italians, Marc was a short, rather studious youth with liquid brown eyes. As a teenager he reportedly had some socialist leanings. Early on he was a leader of the Tenants League, and afterwards became LaGuardia'a protege. The childless "Little Flower" regarded Marc as something of a son, occasionally a wayward son, perhaps, but his own.
When LaGuardia broke with the Republican Party in 1924 -- that was the year the GOP renominated Calvin Coolidge and a KKK-ridden Democratic convention compromised on John W. Davis, a Wall Street lawyer and attorney for the House of Morgan -- Marcantonio became Fiorello's campaign manager in a bitter three-way congressional race. Deprived of the Republican nomination, LaGuardia had to run on the Progressive Party line headed by its presidential candidate, Sen. Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin. He was also given the Socialist nomination, which he accepted.
Marc entered the campaign with zest, organizing hundreds of volunteers for what appeared to be a hopeless third party campaign. Nevertheless LaGuardia's gifted campaigning, his opponents' mistakes and Marc's fantastic zeal and deep neighborhood roots paid off. Fiorello defeated both his old party opponents, winning with a plurality of the votes. The results: