Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, July 16, 2009


Page 15



Groff Draws Endorsements of Times, Herald, Express




In the long-ago days when Harrison Gray Otis ran the Los Angeles Times, the occasion was rare when a candidate of the Democratic Party landed his newspaper’s endorsement. When, in 1906, it backed nominees of that party, Otis played it for everything it was worth, portraying it as evidence of the Times’s non-partisanship in local elections.


As I mentioned last week, attorney Lewis A. Groff, a Republican, believed in nonpartisan local elections, and became a nominee for the Los Angeles Superior Court on the “Non-Partisan Ticket.” The Democratic Party, feeble at that point, adopted all nominees on that ticket as its own—so, Groff was on the Democratic ticket, as were other Republicans, like it or not. What were they to say…“No, no, run someone against me”?

An Oct. 16 editorial in the Times bears the headline, “ ‘THE TIMES’ INDEPENDENT TICKET.” The editorial says:

“The Times supports the State Republican ticket and commends it to voters of all shades of political opinion as the best in the field.

“In the county election no political issues are involved. Voters should select the best man for each office—the man best equipped by talents and character to perform the duties.

“The following is suggested by the Times as a model ticket—as a truly independent ticket, selected carefully from all the candidates on the official ballot, containing nominees of the Republicans, the Non-Partisans and the Democrats. Having looked up the records and qualifications of the various nominees, The Times makes the following independent selections:…”

Outside of the judicial races, it backed the Independent/Democratic countywide candidates for district attorney, sheriff, treasurer, county clerk, recorder, auditor, and surveyor. It would have to be concluded that the newspaper was really in the swing of the non-partisan movement…except for the fact that all of those nominees were not only Republicans but were on the Republican ticket.

The Times rejected the Republican nominees for assessor, coroner, tax collector, public administrator, and superintendent of schools, and sided with the Independents’ choices for those slots. I don’t know whether the nominee for the last post— Jay B. Millard, deputy school superintendent—was a Democrat or Republican. The others were all Republicans.

With respect to Superior Court races, there were six seats. One was for a “short term”—filling out a two-year vacancy. The Times endorsed the Republican nominee over the Republican advanced by the Independents and the Democrats.

There were also contests for five “long terms,” that is, for six years. The Independents put up two Democrats: Milton K. Young and C.F. McNutt.

McNutt did not draw fire from the Times. Young did. An Oct. 3 Times editorial says:

“The independent movement was juggled here in our own home by the hopelessly outnumbered Democratic machine to slip in a few of the most conspicuous misfits in politics as nominees for important offices in the vain hope of saving something out of the political wreck which Democracy [a term then used to signify the Democratic Party] is doomed in this part of the State. Think of the absurdity of ignoring Judge [Wm. P.] James for the Superior Court and nominating for such a high office Milton K. Young.!”

Young, a lawyer since 1892, had been chair of the Democratic County Central Committee in 1903 and 1904. He would become the Democratic Party’s unsuccessful  nominee for governor in 1930.

The Times also made endorsements in state Senate, Assembly, and supervisorial districts, and for Los Angeles Township and Los Angeles City justice of the peace spots.

The Herald, a Democratic newspaper, supported the Independent Ticket, as did the Express, an erstwhile Republican adherent that was pouting over a party stance. An editorial blurb in the Herald on Oct. 13 reads:

“ ‘There should be no partisanship In the election of judicial, county or municipal officers,’ says Judge Lewis A. Groff, former postmaster of Los Angeles. Every patriotic citizen will say amen to that doctrine.”

A Nov. 5 editorial in the Express assesses the Superior Court nominees of the Independents in these words:

“Non-partisan nominees of unimpeachable character; untainted by partisanship and men who did not mingle with the professional freebooters, trading their delegations in the interests of the machine program. Your vote should aid in cleansing the judiciary from the stain of the political quagmire.”

A Nov. 6 editorial in the Herald says of the Independents’ candidates…well, the wording is identical. These were rival newspapers, both supporting the same slate, apparently sharing a script.

The Examiner did not endorse in the judicial contests.

With all three of the major daily newspapers that did endorse urging the election of Groff, would that be enough to carry him to victory?


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