November 12, 2011

Sheridan-Downey---1938.jpg
Sheridan Downey - campaigned as a staunch liberal - and then oil got in the way.


The name Sheridan Downey first came to prominence in California politics as running mate to Upton Sinclair in his bid for Governor of California in 1933. He ran with Lewis on the EPIC plan (End Poverty In California), a mass movement at the time, calling for an economic revolution to life California out of depression.

After the ticket's defeat to Republican Frank Merriman, Downey became involved with Dr.Francis Townsend, whose "Townsend Plan" advocated a $200.00 a month government funded old-age pension plan for every California citizen.

Although Downey and Townsend had a falling out at the time of the 1938 mid-terms, Townsends tacit support, coupled with an endorsement from FDR won him the U.S. Senate bid for California from 1939 until his retirement in 1950.

Campaigning as an avowed Liberal, he took an abrupt turn for the Conservative once he took office and became an advocate for the state's oil interests and agribusiness, campaigning for the exemption of the Central Valley region from the Reclamation Act of 1902 which in turn favored corporate farming. He also actively campaigned against FDR's call to requisition industries in time of war.

He was narrowly re-elected in 1944, but retired in 1950 citing ill-health. In the contentious 1950 mid-term elections, which put Helen Gahagan Douglas against wealthy publisher and conservative Democrat Manchester Boddy in the primaries. When Douglas won, Downey threw his support to Richard Nixon.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Here is Sheridan Downey delivering a radio campaign address from October 31, 1938 and broadcast over KHJ in Los Angeles.

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