Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, September 18, 2008


Page 11



Was Joseph Scott Offered U.S. Senate Nomination?




Los Angeles attorney Joseph Scott was a stem-to-stern Republican, just as his close friend, fellow lawyer Isidore Dockweiler, was an every-square-inch Democrat. And if Scott had coveted a spot on the party ticket for some elective post, he would have stood a good chance of getting the party’s nod…but that’s not a role that, in the end, he wanted to play.

Evidencing his aversion to involvement as a partisan candidate, it is said, was his having turned down a nomination to be the GOP contender for the U.S. Senate. According to Wikipedia:

“The Republican Party nominated him for United States Senator in 1910, but he declined the nomination.”

The Los Angeles Times, in its March 25, 1958 obituary on him, recites:

“In 1910 Mr. Scott was nominated for U.S. Senator but declined the nomination.”

It was not unheard of for a political party to nominate a man at its county or state convention, only to have the nominee respond, “No thanks.” However, in 1910, while the parties did hold their customary conventions, they made no nominations for any office; they merely adopted platforms. A new system was in place, under the 1909 Direct Primary Law.

Well, then, did Scott seek the nomination for the U.S. Senate in the Republican primary, win it, then change his mind about running in the general election? No. U.S. Senate candidates were not on the general election ballot. Until changed by the 17th Amendment in 1913 to provide for popular election of U.S. senators, Art. I, §3 of the United States Constitution said:

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”

Parties did, in the past, “nominate” candidates for the U.S. Senate at their caucuses, and the choice of the party that dominated in the Legislature at the next term would be bound to be selected.

Names of three candidates appeared on ballots of Republicans voting in the Aug. 16, 1910 primary, but the vote was, under 1909 legislation, “advisory” only…and “Joseph Scott” was not among the three names.

Scott had, it’s true, considered seeking the Legislature’s appointment to a Senate seat in 1910. A report of the Oakland Tribune on Jan. 30, 1910 says:

“When the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce men came to San Francisco this week they brought at their head the man they are grooming to succeed Frank Flint as United States Senator. Flint says he can’t afford the place. He is not rich and he feels he is wasting the best years of his life for money-getting without laying up anything for the future. In fact, he feels he is going backward, as his law practice is going to pieces while he toils in Washington.

“Of course the south wants a Senator, and Joseph Scott, president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, is being groomed for the place. He is a lawyer who has not held office except as head of a nonpartisan school board, which place he now occupies, but he always has taken a hand in public questions. Scott has a good presence and made a very good speech at the St. Francis banquet.”

The Feb. 6 issue of the Tribune reports:

“In Washington Senator Flint continues to tell his friends he will not be a candidate for re-election. But he refuses to say so officially. Lee Gates and Joseph Scott want his place if he gets out.”

Gates, a Los Angeles lawyer and former unsuccessful reform candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, had the backing of the powerful Lincoln Roosevelt League, but withdrew from consideration because his wife told him to.

The “Political Watchtower” column of Feb. 10 in the Times says: “It was reported yesterday that efforts are to be renewed by the Democrats to persuade Joseph Scott to make the contest for the United States Senate, but Mr. Scott has not yet signified his desire to go out for the empty honor.”


A Feb. 10 column backtracks:

“Some of the old associates of Joseph Scott, who had been mentioned from time to time as a possible candidate for United States Senator, have taken issue with my classification of him as a Democrat, but after raising the question most of them have confessed their error and have admitted that they do not know just how he votes when he gets into the galvanized booth. As a matter of fact, I am inclined to think Mr. Scott, after all, is a Republican, though he has been on the non-partisan school board so long that the matter of party affiliation has been lost to sight….”

Scott didn’t seek the appointment. John D. Works—a justice of the California Supreme Court from 1888-1891, president of the Los Angeles Bar Assn. in 1903—was the Legislature’s choice.

Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company

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