AUGUST 7, 1958
EN ROUTE TO DENVER—The pre-convention jockeying for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator in New York state is becoming increasingly farcical and a bit shocking.
Three men—Thomas K. Finletter, former Secretary of the Air Force; James A. Farley, former Democratic national chairman; and Edward T. Dickinson, State Commissioner of Commerce—have announced their candidacies. Mayor Robert F. Wagner of New York City has said repeatedly that he would not be a candidate for the Senate. Yet a few days ago Carmine De Sapio, the Tammany leader, issued a call to the Mayor "to decide whether he will run for the Senate" before August 15, and added that the party leaders would not permit a "draft" movement at the state convention.
In his campaign for reelection last year, Mayor Wagner pledged himself to serve out his full term. Certainly the City of New York needs a good mayor, for it is at present confronted with problems as complicated and as difficult to solve as many that a Senator would encounter. I cannot feel that leaving a difficult job unfinished is good preparation for taking on another difficult one, and I think the people of New York City—who must give a Democratic candidate a sizable plurality if he is to win the state election—may well resent someone who leaves them to their present difficulties just at the time when his experience and tenure in office best qualifies him to deal with those problems. I hope Mayor Wagner will stick to the promises he has made.
Mr. Farley, by his own statement, considers himself the best fitted of the three announced candidates for the Senate race. I cannot forget, however, that he is almost, if not quite, my age. It takes a Senator one full term—six years—to become very useful to his state. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule; but usually it begins to be difficult to acquire the kind of knowledge needed by a U.S. Senator in these times, when one has reached the age of 70 or thereabouts.
I hope the convention delegates will weigh carefully the relative values of the candidates. If they do, I feel sure they will recognize where the best chance lies to nominate and elect a Senator capable of vigorous work, with the type of experience that enables him to learn quickly. Six years from now Thomas K. Finletter will still be in his prime.
The New York City Planning Commission's latest figures show that at the end of 1956, in the New York-northeastern New Jersey metropolitan area, 375,000 dwelling units were occupied by non-white persons. This is an increase of about 50 percent in the six years since 1950.
The findings show, however, that very little of the new housing built in those years was occupied by the non-white population. In fact, unlike the country as a whole, the New York housing situation showed a deterioration in quality between 1950 and 1956.
New York has made real progress in improved housing, both public and private, in recent years, but there is still much to be done. And as long as we have more dilapidated units or more buildings without full dwelling facilities than many other parts of the nation, none of us who are interested in this vital problem can feel any real self-satisfaction.