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The Rise of Political Action CommitteesInterest Group Electioneering and the Transformation of American Politics$
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Emily J. Charnock

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190075514

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190075514.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 08 December 2021

Introducing P.A.C.

Introducing P.A.C.

(p.137) 5 Introducing P.A.C.
The Rise of Political Action Committees

Emily J. Charnock

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (CIO’s) political action committee or P.A.C. in 1943, following the collapse of Labor’s Non-Partisan League and passage of a new law restricting union money in elections. This was a critical point in the CIO’s embrace of a “dynamic partisan” electoral strategy. Through interventions in primary elections and the targeted provision of general election support to sympathetic Democratic candidates, P.A.C. sought to reshape the Democratic Party along more pro-labor and liberal lines. As this chapter reveals, P.A.C. leaders hoped to elect supportive lawmakers in the 1944 and 1946 elections, seeking out candidates who were strongly committed to labor’s goals. Despite public pronouncements of nonpartisanship, however, they chose not to look for allies on both sides of the aisle, instead favoring liberal Democrats over liberal Republicans—hoping to impress Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal vision onto the Democratic Party as a whole.

Keywords:   labor unions, PACs, campaign finance, election campaigns, primaries, liberalism, Democratic Party, CIO, Southern Democrats, realignment

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