The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987 Page: 392
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
domination of congressional leadership. Without the popularity of
Roosevelt and the New Deal, such concerns would likely have weighed
far more heavily.
The significance of personalities cannot be ignored. O'Connor was
a much less popular figure than Rayburn. While it is easy to under-
estimate the importance of personality when dealing with such vari-
ables as sectional tensions, Rayburn's more pleasant style cannot be
By helping to overcome sectional resistance, the Pennsylvania dele-
gation, following the lead of Senator Guffey, was as important for
Rayburn's 1937 victory as it was for his 1934 defeat. Additionally, as
Richard Bolling, Rayburn's prot6g6 and a congressional scholar, has
pointed out, McCormack's support for Rayburn may have been the
clincher. McCormack was something of a power in the House in 1936
and had been friendly with Garner and Rayburn.6 As a New En-
glander and an urban Irish Catholic, McCormack's support of Rayburn
could offset the influence of the sectional, ethnic, and religious loyal-
ties of other northern congressmen and make a break with O'Connor
Finally, Rayburn's insider-outsider strategy is worthy of note.57 He
was not content to rely on personal contacts, Garner, his New Deal cre-
dentials, or lobbying in his behalf by other congressmen. He also lob-
bied those influential with congressmen. This lobbying was probably
not done on any grand scale, but it was part of an overall strategy to
muster support that was later characteristic of Rayburn's approach
to key votes-a methodical strategy that did not take winning for
granted." That work finally paid off at the Democratic caucus in Janu-
55See "Landslide Victory for Rayburn as Leader of House Seems Assured," unidentified
newspaper clipping, Jan. 2, 1937, Timmons Scrapbook. The article explains Rayburn's victory
in terms of his liberalism and his "modesty and courtesy." Carl Albert's victory over Richard W.
Bolling in the 1962 majority leader's race was partly due to Albert's more pleasant personality.
See Nelson W. Polsby, "Two Strategies of Influence: Choosing a Majority Leader, 1962," Pea-
body, Leadership in Congress, 83.
56Richard Bolling to A. C., June 26, 198o, interview (SRL).
57 See Polsby, "Two Strategies of Influence," 66-99, but note 494-495, where Peabody states,
"The media and interest groups may be active and even marginally useful, but a final outcome
decided by a secret ballot vote in caucus or conference all but precludes either set of forces
from having a decisive or even very direct bearing on leadership contests."
58 For an excellent treatment of Rayburn as Speaker, see Boilling, Power in the House.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987, periodical, 1986/1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/m1/458/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.