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In the 1913 Legislature four political elements were represented, Progressive, Democratic, Republican ando Socialist.
The Progressives were in overwhelming majority. One Socialist,12 the first to be elected to a California Legislature, held place in the Assembly. Of scarcely more importance numerically than the Socialist was the Republican group in both Houses, the last remnant of the old Organization guard, which had gone down in defeat at the elections of 1910 and 1912.
The Democratic minority was more important. Ten members of the Senate and twenty-five members of the Assembly had been elected as Democrats.
But the Democrats were divided into two groups, the Progressive Democrats constituting one group and the Reactionary Democrats the other. The line of division between the two groups was as sharply drawn as the line between the Progressive majority and the Republican minority. Logically, the Progressive Democrats and the Progressives belonged in the same group, and, the purposes of the Reactionary Democrats and the Republicans being the same, they should have been together. Such was the real division of the 1913 Legis
12 Kingsley of Los Angeles.
lature. The party division insisted upon was artificial and illogical
The situation was not at all new. The California Legislature-except when forced by caucus whip—has never been divided, and never will be divided, on strictly party lines on a question of real importance. The logical line of division in the old days, 13 left Republicans and Democrats who submitted to machine domination on the one side, and the members of both parties who refused to submit to machine domination on the other. The machine element understood this perfectly, and acted upon it brazenly.
At the 1907 and 1909 sessions, for example, Bell of Pasadena, a Republican State Senator 14 was denied admittance to the Republican Senate caucus. He had been told that he would be admitted to the caucus provided he make his peace with the Southern Pacific boss in Southern California, whom Bell had worsted at the polls. This, Bell refused to do. He was denied admittance to the caucus of his party.
The stupidity of Republican-Democrat partisan division at the 1913 session was recognized alike by Democrats and Progressives, who see something more in the
13 See “Story of the California Legislature of 1909," Chapters VIII to XIII inclusive.
14 The reason given for denying Bell caucus privileges was that he had defeated a regularly nominated Republican. But in 1900 Wright of Santa Clara county, a Republican running as an independent and Democrat, defeated a regularly nominated Republican and was admitted to the Republican Assembly caucus. In 1902, Shortridge of Santa Clara county, running as an Independent, defeated a regularly nominated Republican. But Shortridge was admitted without question to the 1903 Republican Senate caucus. There was ample precedent for admitting Bell to the 1907 and 1909 Republican caucuses, over the objection which the "machine" element raised against him.
progressive movement in both parties than prospective change, with readjustment which may give opportunity to grab office 15 or preferment.
But it was one thing to recognize such stupidity and quite another to avoid it.
The question of the character of the caucus to be held for organization of the Legislature was raised immediately after the November, 1912, elections. Among leaders who had, as Republicans, opposed the old Southern Pacific machine, and who were now counted Progressives, there was no unanimity of sentiment. A strong group, principally from Southern California, backed, it was generally understood, by Governor Johnson, wanted a straight Progressive caucus. On the other hand, several who had been anti-machine Republicans, especially Senate leaders, refused to attend a strictly Progressive caucus, some going so far as to refuse to attend a caucus of Progressive Republicans.
On the other hand, many Progressives who had succeeded in getting completely out of their Republican shell, refused absolutely to attend a straight Republican caucus.
Nevertheless, before the session convened, an attempt was made to secure organization on a strictly nonpartisan, progressive basis. The test proposed was endorsement of the general policies of the 1911 session.
A call for a general caucus was accordingly issued. “The undersigned,” the call read, “who believe in
15 It has been wittily observed that some are Progressives before they are Republicans, others are Progressives before they are Democrats, while others are office-seekers before they are anything.
continuing the general policies laid down by the Legislature of 1911, agree to meet in caucus for the purpose of considering organization.”
That was a call which all progressives, regardless of party label, who had united in 1909 to down the old Southern Pacific “Organization,” and who, united, in 1910-11 had downed it, could have signed.16 Many did sign it.
But objection was raised that the meeting together of members of both Houses to consider plans for organization was unprecedented. The general caucus was not held.
Failure to arrive at some general working understanding led to the greatest confusion when the members of the two Houses arrived at Sacramento.
In the Senate the principal official to be selected was the President pro tem. Boynton of Butte was the logical candidate for this position. He had at the progressive 1911 session occupied the office creditably. But Boyn
16 This importance of non-partisan organization was generally recognized.
“There is," said the Sacramento Bee, in its issue of January 3, 1913, "sound sense in the movement for a non-partisan caucus of the members of each House of the Legislature, with relation to organization.
"The only real dividing line in the incoming Legislature, as in the last, is that which separates the servants of Privilege from those of The People.
"No merely partisan considerations should prevent truly progressive legislators from getting together to further the policies that characterized the Legislature of 1911 and made it one of the most distinguished and useful in the history of the State.
“The People of California little care whether a legislato calls himself a Progressive, a Republican, a Democrat or something else. They will judge him by his conduct, not by his professions nor by the classification he may give himself. They will look to his record-his votes, speeches and affiliations.
“The Legislature properly is not a place to make political capital, but to serve the public to provide for the support of the State's institutions and make such laws as may be found needful and beneficial for The People.
"And the best way for any Republican, Democrat or Progressive to serve his party is to give faithful service to the State."
ton, a hold-over Senator, had been elected in 1910 as a Republican. He could not see his way clear to enter a purely Progressive caucus, and yet the Republicans in the Senate were almost as scarce as Socialists. An amusing angle of the situation was that Boynton, thanks to the excellent progressive record he had made at the 1907 and 1909 sessions, had, when he came up for reelection in 1910, been nominated by the Democrats and Socialists, as well as by the Republicans. He was given this Democratic-Socialist support because he was garded as a Progressive. That Boynton should contend he could not enter a purely Progressive caucus indicates the confusion attending the smashing of party lines when the "machine," which had controlled both the Republican and Democratic parties, went to wreck at the elections of 1910 and 1912.
In the Assembly the principal official to be selected was the Speaker. There were five named as candidates :
17 Senator Boynton was not always so concerned about caucus labels.
At the 1907 session, for example, the Republican, machinecontrolled caucus took up plans to punish a newspaper man named Livernash. Livernash had been tearing into the Legislature through the medium of a San Francisco paper. The Legislature prepared to deny Livernash the privileges usually accorded newspapermen. The Republican caucus met to consider the situation. Boynton refused to be a party to such a performance and walked out of the caucus.
At the 1909 session, when the “machine". Republicans and "machine" Democrats got together to prevent the passage of an effective Direct Primary law, Boynton was one of the leaders in the opposing movement to get the anti-machine Republicans and the anti-machine Democrats together to defeat the purpose of the "machine" Senators.
The anti-machine Senators actually held a caucus, in which Democrats and Republicans, Boynton with them, met on the common-sense basis of working for the good of the State. The novel affair scandalized every partisan in the Legislature, but out of this first Progressive caucus—for such it was-came the Direct Primary law-imperfect in many respects, but still a Direct Primary law-under which the "machine" element was smashed.-See “Story of the California Legislature of 1909," Chapter IX, page 84.