The 1948 race for the U.S. Senate was unexpectedly interesting. Tom Stewart, then in his second term, was a protege of Tennessee boss Edward H. Crump. Never able to expand his base of support in the Democratic Party, Stewart had won re-nomination in 1942 only with a heavy vote in the Memphis area (he lost the center and eastern portions of the state). An arch-conservative, Stewart had proposed stripping Japanese Americans of their citizenship during World War II and was sometimes called Sen. McKellar's "me, too" man [NYT 11/16/1947].
U.S. Rep. Estes Kefauver announced his intention of challenging Stewart on 11/15/1947. Kefauver was a five-term member of the U.S. House and was only 44 years old at the time of his announcement. Unlike Stewart, Kefauver was a strong supporter of organized labor and programs such as TVA and OPA. As such, Boss Crump said of Kefauver that he would "rather vote for Marcantonio" than Kefauver. [NYT 11/16/1947]
At first, Stewart said that he would announce whether he would run again when he was "good and ready." He became "good and ready" fairly quickly, as Crump sent out feelers that Stewart needed to be standing on his own and not need to be bailed out again. Stewart thus announced his candidacy on 12/8/1947 even though Crump had not agreed to support him [NYT 12/9/1947].
The campaign season developed into a referendum on Crump's "king maker" ability to choose the Democratic nominees for statewide offices. Gordon Browning ran for the Demo[More...]