Upton Sinclair and the EPIC Campaign Part 4: The Conclusion and Results
About Upton Sinclair, who during the Great Depression made a bid for the governor of California, the results of the election and politics in California in the years to come.
Upton Sinclair and the EPIC Campaign
By Michael S. Medved
Despite these assaults it was generally believed that Sinclair could still win if the national Administration of President Franklin Roosevelt would come out strongly in his favor before Election Day. But Roosevelt, always suspicious of those to his left, kept his enthusiasm for EPIC well under control. As the campaign progressed and the Administration stuck to its position of strict neutrality Sinclair's claims that he was only trying to bring California "its share of the New Deal" began to lose credibility.
On Election Day, Sinclair and EPIC were soundly beaten, and "solid citizens" across the State breathed a sigh of relief. Sinclair drew 37% of the vote while the Republican, Merriam, polled less than 49%, with the balance going to 3rd party moderate Raymond Haight. After his defeat, Sinclair observed bitterly: "I have written too many books to be a politician. If we had a better candidate we might have won."
Yet it is impossible to write off the EPIC campaign as a complete failure. The Democratic party in California had taken a definite turn to the left, and in future years, many party leaders were drawn from the ranks of onetime EPIC volunteers. Sinclair's running mate, Sheridan Downey, was elected to the Senate in 1938, where he served until replaced by Richard Nixon in 1950. It was another EPIC veteran, Culbert Olson of Los Angeles, who in 1938--4 years after Sinclair's defeat--was elected the 1st Democratic governor of California in the 20th century. It is interesting to note that many of Olson's "radical" reforms were ultimately blocked by the conservative forces in the State legislature.
The Author: An authority on the American Presidency, Yale graduate Michael S. Medved has been a speechwriter for a number of prominent politicians.
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