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Congressman Warren G. Magnuson wins election to the U.S. Senate on November 7, 1944.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5613 : Printer-Friendly Format

On November 7, 1944, Democrats sweep the national and state elections to send Warren G. Magnuson (1905-1989) to the U.S. Senate and to give President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) an unprecedented fourth term. Washington Commonwealth Federation leader Hugh DeLacy (1910-1986) wins Magnuson's former seat in Congress. Seattle and Washington voters also defeat a 3 percent income tax, a statewide social security system, and changes to the structure of public utilities.

As World War II shifted into its last and costliest year, Roosevelt bested New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey (1902-1971) and Democrats retained control of Congress. Four-term Congressman Magnuson defeated Tacoma Mayor Harry P. Cain, who was on active duty as a paratrooper in Europe during the campaign.

Magnuson was first elected to the 1st District seat in U.S. House of Representatives in 1936, succeeding Marion Zioncheck (1901-1936), who committed suicide that same year. Magnuson succeeded fellow Democrat Senator Homer T. Bone, who was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1944. Under intense pressure, lame duck Gov. Langlie appointed Magnuson to take Bone's vacant Senate seat on December 13, 1944, providing him additional seniority, which would boost his rise to power in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senator Mon Wallgren defeated incumbent Governor Arthur Langlie, a former Seattle mayor and Republican (who would regain the governor's office four years later). Governor Wallgren later appointed Hugh Mitchell, his former secretary, to finish his U.S. Senate term. Harry P. Cain defeated Mitchell two years later. Democrats also kept their majority in the state legislature.

DeLacy beat Republican Robert Harlin for Magnuson's First District seat in Congress. A Seattle City Councilman, wartime shipyard worker, and former teacher at the University of Washington, DeLacy also headed the Washington Commonwealth Federation, a coalition of liberal political organizations formed in 1935. The WCF's adherence to left-wing positions such as pensions, production-for-use, and support of the Soviet Union led to its branding as a Communist Front. DeLacy was defeated two years later in a post-war Republican sweep of electoral offices.

Statewide, turnout for the election was almost 85 percent. Returns for selected races are as follows:

U.S. President
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) - 486, 774
  • Thomas E. Dewey (R) - 361,689

    U.S. Senator
  • Warren G. Magnuson (D) - 452,013
  • Harry P. Cain (R) - 364,356

    U.S. House of Representatives - First District
  • Hugh DeLacy (D) - 118,354
  • Robert H. Harlin (R) - 103,099

  • Mon C. Wallgren (D) - 428,834
  • Arthur B. Langlie (R) - 400,604
  • Sources:
    Shelby Scates, Warren G. Magnuson and the Shaping of Twentieth Century America, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), 110-114; Ross Cunningham, "Walgren's Lead 26,743 in 2.107 Pcts." The Seattle Daily Times, November 9, 1944, p. 1, 11; "Voters Indorse Better Schools," Ibid., 2; "Demos lose, Gain in Legislature," Ibid., 10; "Record Vote Cast in Seattle," Ibid., 11; Washington Secretary of State, Abstract of Votes polled in the State of Washington at the General Election, November 8, 1944, (Olympia: Secretary of State, 1944).

    Travel through time (chronological order):
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    Mon Wallgren (1891-1961) and Warren Magnuson (1905-1989)
    Courtesy UW Special Collections

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