Thursday, June 5, 2008
Dockweiler Runs, Reluctantly, for Lieutenant Governor
By ROGER M. GRACE
A column in the March 23, 1898 edition of the Times mentions that “Isidore Dockweiler expects to have the Democratic nomination for District Attorney.” That expectation would be disappointed.
Though his influence in the Democratic Party mounted through the years, locally and nationally, Dockweiler never did gain election to public office.
As of March, 1898, he was only 30 years old, and had been a lawyer for barely over eight years. Yet, the prospect of his nomination by the Democrats was realistic. The name of “Dockweiler” was known to voters; his brother was the elected city engineer, and his father, some years back, had been on the Los Angeles Common Council (predecessor to the City Council). Two years earlier, Dockweiler had been in charge of Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan’s campaign swing through Southern California.
As it turned out, there was no Democratic nomination in 1898 for any post in the county.
The Democrats did assemble in Santa Monica on Sept. 20 of that year, with Dockweiler calling the county nominating convention to order. Also convening in that city, separately, were the Silver Republicans (who opposed a gold standard) and the Populists. The thought was that if a pact could be forged, the three parties would put on a united front with a “fusion” ticket. Why? The Republican Party in this once Democratic stronghold was now predominant.
The parties had earlier agreed on the divvying up of selections of candidates for the offices that would be on the county ballot. A sticking point while the respective conventions were in progress was which party’s choice would be the fusion nominee for district attorney, with the Silver Republicans insisting that it would have that pick, and the Democrats being reluctant to cede it. In the end, the three parties did unite, and a Silver Republican, Joseph L. Murphey, was the joint nominee for DA, losing to Republican James Rives.
Four years later, Dockweiler did become a candidate for public office. In its issue of Sept. 4, 1902, the Times reports from Sacramento:
“It was not until the last moments of the [Democratic] convention that a candidate for Lieutenant-Governor was found, and then an extremely reluctant one. Under the circumstances this was not surprising, for no man wants to enter a losing fight. First one man and then another was mentioned, but all of them declined. At last the nomination was practically forced upon Isidore Dockweiler of Los Angeles, and it was gladly given to him by acclamation.”
The Oct. 13 issue of the Woodland Democrat includes this report on a campaign appearance by Dockweiler:
“I. Dockweiler, candidate for lieutenant-governor, was the next speaker. Chairman [N.A.] Hawkins introduced him facetiously by remarking that he is a man less than 34 years of age and the father of seven children. [Born Dec. 28, 1867, he had turned 34 in 1901.]
“The merriment that this remark created reminded Mr. Dockweiler that while the audience seemed to regard the circumstances as an inspiration for levity, to him it seemed to be a serious matter. The audience quickly warmed up to him after his expression of the following beautiful sentiment:
“ ‘I believe Almighty God has blessed my humble home in leaving there so many pledges of affection and I am proud to be the husband of that noble woman whose life has been consecrated to the care and education of my children.’
“Mr. Dockweiler has a splendid voice, and his style of delivery reminds us of the late and lamented [former U.S. Sen.] Stephen M. White. He eloquently expressed, as a native son, the pride he feels in California.”
Dockweiler’s rift with the head of the ticket, gubernatorial hopeful Franklin K. Lane (who was to become secretary of the interior under President Woodrow Wilson) is told of in an Oct. 17 column in the Oakland Tribune. It says:
“Isidore Dockweiler, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, has been industriously ‘knocking’ Lane right and left in his private talks. Dockweiler takes his candidacy very seriously. In declamation he has copied the sententious methods of the late Stephen M. White, and he really fancies himself in his oratorial [then a variant of “oratorical”] stunts. So the fact that Lane overlooks him in the speechmaking and the further fact that the [Democratic State] Central Committee, in getting up the party lithograph, has given him no more size or photographic importance than the candidate for Clerk of the Supreme Court, have caused the wrath to come up in his southern [California] neck, and his words about Lane and the committee would burn holes in a carpet.”
There was a Republican sweep that year, and Dockweiler lost to the GOP nominee, Alden Anderson.
His next try for a political office would not be for another 24 years.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company
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