Edward J. McCormack Jr.
|Edward J. McCormack Jr.|
|50th Massachusetts Attorney General|
|Preceded by||George Fingold|
|Succeeded by||Edward Brooke|
August 29, 1923|
|Died||February 27, 1997
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Alma mater||United States Naval Academy Boston University School of Law|
Edward Joseph McCormack Jr. (August 29, 1923 – February 27, 1997) was Massachusetts Attorney General from 1959 through 1963.
Personal life and education
A member of an influential political family of Irish descent, McCormack was a son of Edward Joseph "Knocko" McCormack, Sr., a prominent Boston political figure, and a nephew of John William McCormack, who became Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. McCormack when young was described as tall and handsome, with dark blond hair. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1947 and was first in his class at Boston University School of Law (1952).
McCormack was serving as a member of the Boston City Council in 1958 when he ran for Attorney General in the Democratic Primary. Following the death of the sitting Attorney General, George Fingold on August 31, 1958, the Massachusetts Legislature met in Joint Convention on September 5 to elect a successor, but was unable to agree on a candidate. It was then voted to schedule another Joint Convention for the following week, after the primaries, when it would be possible for the Democratic-controlled Joint Convention to elect the winner of the Democratic primary.
On September 11, 1958, after winning the Democratic primary for Attorney General, McCormack was elected shortly after midnight by an extended Joint Convention of the Legislature. He was sworn in later the same day. He was elected in November by the voters and served two full two-year terms as Attorney General from 1959 until 1963. His tenure was known[by whom?] for a strong record on civil rights.
In the 1962 U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts, McCormack faced off in the Democratic primary against Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, who was running for the Senate seat vacated by his brother John upon becoming President of the United States. Critics said the current (appointed) senator, Ben Smith who was a close friend of the Kennedy family, was intended all along to simply be a "seat-warmer" until Ted Kennedy turned thirty (the minimum age provided by the U.S. Constitution for eligibility to serve in the Senate). Smith initially planned to run in the special election to complete the rest of the term, however he backed off when polls showed that he would suffer certain defeat to McCormack in the primary. Kennedy faced the notion that with brother John as President and Robert as U.S. Attorney General, "Don't you think that Teddy is one Kennedy too many?"
McCormack had the support of many liberals and intellectuals, who thought Kennedy inexperienced (Kennedy used the slogan "He can do more for Massachusetts", the same one John had used in his first campaign for the seat ten years earlier). McCormack's staff seems to regard Kennedy's presence in the race more as an insult than a challenge, noting that McCormack had a distinguished record in academics, war service, and public office. By contrast Kennedy had just reached the qualifying age for the Senate and public experience was limited to a short uneventful term as assistant District Attorney in Boston. Kennedy had also been suspended from Harvard University for academic cheating, which he admitted in a press conference in order to preempt McCormack supporters from making an issue of it.
Despite his public service, McCormack was largely seen as the underdog going up against the fame and fortune of the Kennedy family political machine, which flooded the media with ads promoting Kennedy's Senate candidacy. McCormack's campaign, supervised by his father Edward Sr. and uncle John W., could afford few radio and newspaper ads, nor a paid staff, and being forced to handle many of the campaign details caused the younger McCormack to lose seven pounds by the end of the contest. Kennedy also proved to be an effective street-level campaigner. What would further hurt McCormack's campaign was his negative attacks which were viewed by voters as overbearing and bullying. McCormack used the slogan "I back Jack, but Teddy ain't ready", and during the televised debate he stated "The office of United States senator should be merited, and not inherited," and said that if his opponent's name was Edward Moore, not Edward Moore Kennedy, his candidacy "would be a joke."
Kennedy subsequently won the September 1962 primary by a two-to-one margin, and he received McCormack's support in the general election. Although pundits predicted that this contest would have caused a rift between McCormack's uncle, John W. McCormack who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Kennedy's brother President John F. Kennedy, Speaker McCormack never showed by word or deed that he bore a grudge against the Kennedys for his nephew's loss.
Further political activities
McCormack was a Massachusetts delegate to the 1964 Democratic national convention.
McCormack was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts in 1966, where he lost to Republican incumbent John A. Volpe, the first time that the term of that office was extended from two to four years.
Although no longer in public office, he remained a political insider and worked as a development lawyer in Boston real estate while his friend, Kevin H. White was mayor of that city. McCormack had financial interests in Rowe's Wharf, Government Center Garage, Copley Place, Lafayette Place and the Bostonian Hotel, where he made and lost millions.
McCormack died in 1997, at age 73, of complications from lung cancer. His former political opponent Ted Kennedy, still serving at the time as Massachusetts's senior United States Senator, fondly recalled their 1962 primary contest.
- [dead link]
- New York Times, September 6, 1958, p.34, col.2
- New York Times, September 13, 1958, p.9, col. 5)
- Barone and Cohen, Almanac of American Politics 2008, p. 791.
- "Edward Kennedy (Dem)". The Washington Times. May 5, 2006.
- Mooney, Brian C. (February 28, 1997). "Ed McCormack: A many-layered political paradox". Boston Globe.
- Lehigh, Scot (March 4, 1997). "Bidding farewell to a man, an era". Boston Globe.
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