Fred Tanner made one blunder in his effort to talk me out of running that year. He said that if I had gone to any expense, such as printing my petitions, or anything else, he would see that I was reimbursed. Well, I just hit the ceiling. I don't think Fred meant it the way I took it. But I blew up, and that just about ended our talk. As I started out of his office, Fred shouted to me, "Fiorollo, hold your horses. Damn it, if you want to run, go ahead and do it. Don't blame me if you're licked again."
Harry Andrews was a very useful man around our district. He was young, a good stenographer, did most of the clerical work, and acted as secretary to the district leader. He had a job as a secretary to a judge. In 1914 he was in my corner, and he was very helpful to me in the primary stage of the 1916 campaign as well as in the election. I got him to study law and had the pleasure of seeing him grow and develop to the point where I appointed him a magistrate when I was Mayor. I learned a great deal about politics from Harry, and he, in turn, I believe, learned some things about government from me.
We got my petitions signed and filed. Though I never got a nod or a word from the Republican Party officials, no opposition developed, much to my surprise, and I entered the primaries unopposed. I did have opposition for the Progressive Party nomination. My friend Ben Marsh, a real liberal and a true progressive, who has been on the right side of many losing causes, was my opponent. I won the Progressive nomination, too, and always had a feeling that Ben voted for me.
The campaign was hot. I got a tremendous start on my opponent, the sitting Congressman. His office-holding had gone to his head, and he was terribly inflated. He seldom showed up at his saloon, and when he did, forgot to treat the boys. He had become a "big shot," and was seldom seen in the district. That would not have been so bad if he had ever done anything in Washington. So I had plenty of material to work on.
This time I did not wait for the party leaders to get me started. I was 'way ahead of them. The campaign was difficult because my district had such varied interests. The East Side section was interested in economics and the future of Europe; Washington Square, before Greenwich Village had become The Village, was most conservative—for higher tariffs, lower taxes, big business stuff; and the West Side Irish were anti-British and completely Tammanyized.
While I had many friends in the Socialist Party, they waged their fight against me on the East Side. It was their tactics to accept an ultraconservative rather than a progressive. Tammany was counting on a heavy vote in the West Side section of the district and the solid Little Tim Sullivan Third District on the East Side.
This time my candidacy was not taken by Tammany Hall as the joke it had been to its henchmen two years before. They were in a dilemma. They didn't dare put Mike Farley, their candidate, on the stump. So all sorts of stump speakers were imported into the district. We had a great time with them. I covered every corner in that district, I think. We would start early in the evening, on the West Side, keep going east, and it was not unusual for the last street meeting to end 'way past one o'clock in the morning. Then, to Stuyvesant Hall or some coffeehouse on the East Side for another hour or two of campaigning.
Tammany was not really worried. They depended on two things: on the Democratic majority usual in that Congressional district, which they considered overwhelming, and on the count. Republican leaders in the West Side districts and in some of the East Side districts were not only weak but untrustworthy and venal. The Republican leader in Little Tim Sullivan's East Side district was an Italian who had made a fortune as a padrone for the Erie Railroad. He worked very closely with Tammany Hall and would do nothing to incur its displeasure. He always got advice, protection, and help from the national Republican administration. He was illiterate, ignorant, and arrogant. He didn't even treat his family well. The Tammany leader in the same district was one of the Sullivan clan. Little Tim Sullivan was personally a nice fellow, but as tough a Tammany leader as they came. We prepared for fraud, by organizing in this district a corps of volunteer watchers for the count, a precaution I have always taken in my subsequent campaigns.
The fighting Irish were helpful to me in that campaign. I knew more about the history of Ireland than Mike Farley did, and some of the Irish thought Mike Farley had not been anti-English enough. I was greatly aided by a corps of volunteers headed by one who became known as the Irish Joan of Arc. She was a real spellbinder; she was not particularly supporting me; but she was certainly opposing Mike Farley.
In my talks on the East Side I dismembered the Hapsburg Empire and liberated all the subjugated countries under that dynasty almost every night. The funny part of it is that I was not fooling and happened to guess future history correctly.
Charles Evans Hughes was the Republican candidate for President against Woodrow Wilson, running for re-election. Naturally, the interest in the campaign was focused on the Presidential election, which was a tense and close struggle. In the Republican part of the district, which constituted only a small percentage of the total vote, I had the advantage of the fact that they were all for Hughes and would vote the straight Republican ticket, including me. Hughes was very popular as a former Governor of New York and a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We were certain of getting a big vote in that "silk stocking" section of district, and, in fact, we did very little campaigning there.