How We Beat the Machine:
Challenging Tammany at the District Level
IN THE short history of the Riverside Democrats, an insurgent political club in the Columbia University area, September 10, 1957, was a night to remember. The sounds of revelry which emanated from its headquarters on Broadway and 106th Street signalized an event rare in the annals of local Democratic affairs: the triumph, and on its first attempt at that, of a local reform group. Its two candidates for district leader, William Fitts Ryan and Shirley Kaye, had soundly trounced the Tammany leadership of the district.
No wonder that the new group of professionals, mostly amateurs less than a year before, sang, shouted, and whooped in exultation unmarred by either regret for past inactivity or premonition of future trouble. Indeed, few group experiences can be more intoxicating than election night when early returns promise victory, and every later return increases victory’s scope. Each new face in the door seemed likely to be bringing the good news of opposition defeat in yet another election district, and since there are fifty-four election districts in the Seventh Assembly District, the scene of this particular contest, good tidings were plentiful. Even before victory was official, unfamiliar men and women appeared for the first time in the club headquarters, conscious that power was shifting and old favors henceforth would have to be sought in new places. Telephones never ceased ringing. Newspaper interest suddenly increased. In the midst of it all the candidates, happy but tired as only politics can tire, strove to say the appropriate things-thanks to supporters, assurances of continued effort, gentle reminders that victory was a beginning, not an ending.
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