The Democratic primaries in Illinois served as a test of political strength of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and the Illinois political machine he headed. A series of primary and other votes on June 15, 1966, reaffirmed Daley's continuing influence despite concerted attacks from critics leading up to the votes.
Having staked his prestige on passage of a bond issue for $195 million worth of capital improvements, the vote came overwhelmingly in favor. And several Daley-backed candidates had triumphed in primaries. The results were widely regarded as key indicators of Daley's continuing political strength and possibly foreshadowing Daley seeking an unprecedented fourth term in the elections to be held the following April.
Johnson called Daley to congratulate him and to ask him to feed him any information about anyone in the administration or Democrats in Congress that might be leaking to critics.
The New York Times report the following day noted that the outcome of the votes brought a congratulatory call from President Johnson.1
The tapes skips at the beginning.
Richard Daley: Hello?
President Johnson: Well, congratulations, hero!
Daley: What do you think about that Johnson-Daley ticket out there?
President Johnson: [laughs] I'm pretty strong for that Daley ticket, I'll tell you.
Daley: With all those articles and, Mr. President, they hit us with everything in the country. They had money coming in from New York and California. And they had a lot of people that should be supporting you, undermining us and against us. We had a terrible time with some of those people that we've done so much with. But goddammit we won it and [unclear]--
President Johnson: You sure did, and that's the best news I've heard, and it was so--
Daley: That is one of the roughest ones we've had. We shot the works, as I told you last week, we had them in. And I fooled them in a lot of places. They thought we were going to be in bad shape, and I turned it around and reached in and got some people in the last week or so. And we just won a great victory, and that was for you because--
President Johnson: Well.
Daley: --with all those things going and with all the articles, they started to appear out here--I told you I don't read them, but I take a little peek at them now and then. [laughs] But this was a great victory. And the same thing for Bill Dawson. Bill wins going away by about 20,000 and Barratt [O'Hara] ends up with about 3,500 to 4,000.2
President Johnson: Well--
Daley: It was rough, and they had more money and more people and all the interests. Some of our own people [unclear] us and going around us and sending things out here, they surely had it. And they got it from a lot of sources.
President Johnson: Well--
Daley: And there might be some truth in some of those articles you were reading from the east. But we were determined that they weren't going to come out here and tell us how to run this city. And we were going to show them that we're behind you 100 percent in your programs and in everything else.
President Johnson: Well, Mayor, I'll just tell you, you don't know how proud I was when the Colonel called last night.
Daley: Yes, I asked him, because we were--
President Johnson: He told me you did, and it's the nicest thing that's happened to us.
Daley: Well, it was good, and we win, you saw, we win the bond issues two and a half to three to one.
President Johnson: Oh, that's wonderful.
Daley: Everyone was watching that and showing how, you know, we're supposed to be slipping. But, if we keep slipping the way we are in 1968, we'll do better than we did in 64! [Both laugh.] Well, I just wanted to say hello to you. And I knew it'd make you--
President Johnson: I--
Daley: --especially when they made this one. And, you know, they thought they were in here. And they thought they were going to show this as a great turn-back of your policies. And he used Vietnam. And he used every conceivable thing [unclear].
President Johnson: Did the Dawson man go anti-Vietnam, too?3
Daley: Yes, pretty much.
President Johnson: And the Barrett O'Hara man too?
Daley: The Barrett O'Hara man that was his whole campaign, on Johnson and on Vietnam. And he went all the way out. But you know, and he even admitted after you came out here. He said he was one of the nervous nellies that Johnson was referring to the other night.4
President Johnson: Mm-hmm.
Daley: --in his campaign, he . . .
President Johnson: Mm-hmm.
Daley: And he had a lot of people with him and a lot of people supporting that were --
President Johnson: Do they have anybody here in--
Daley: [Unclear] our eyebrows on them. We saw this. And, you know, we're not vindictive, but we're not foolish either. We got after it a little bit.
President Johnson: No, what I--I want to know what you learn.
Daley: That's right.
President Johnson: Will you let me know?
Daley: I surely will. Nice to talk to you, Mr. President.
President Johnson: Mayor, I'm proud of you. Now, please, please let us know who cuts us from here.
President Johnson: I know the general crowd, but I just want to . . . if you got any little indication, let's have it.
President Johnson: It'll just be between you and me. OK.
Daley: All right. And nice to talk to you, Mr. President.
President Johnson: Thank you, Mayor.
Daley: We're very happy to hear from you.
President Johnson: I surely am.
Daley: Bye now. Bye, Mr. President.