With the warmth of Latin gratitude this service was remembered. In 1898 when Lane ran for his first political office, as City and County Attorney, the San Miguel Defense Association revived its energies, formed a Franklin K. Lane Campaign Club and sent out vivid circulars about Franklin K. Lane, “who nobly fought for us. ... It is now our turn to stand by him and see that he is elected by a very large majority.” Their proclamation ended with the appeal, “Vote for Franklin K. Lane, the Foe to Blackmailers.”
As Lane’s plurality in this first election was eight hundred and thirty-two votes, there is little doubt that his grateful clients played a real part in that success.
The Tacoma printers had also sent a testimonial, which was widely distributed in the campaign, as to Lane’s friendship to labor, saying that they, in gratitude, had made him an honorary member of their Typographical Union. The campaign was made on the rights of the plain people, for its chief issue.
In the letter that follows, Lane, in 1913, tells of his formal entry into politics, in 1898.
Washington, December 30, 1913
Dear Mr. Spurgeon,—In reply to your inquiry of December 29, permit me to say that I got into politics in this way:—
One day, while on my way to lunch, I met Mayor Phelan, of San Francisco, who asked me if I would become a member of the committee to draft a charter for the city. I said I would, and was appointed. At that time I was practising law and had no idea whatever that I would at any time run for public office, or take any considerable part in public affairs. I helped to draft the charter, and as it had to be submitted to the people for ratification, I stumped the city for it. Later, when the first election was held under it, my friends on the charter committee insisted that I should accept the Democratic nomination for City Attorney. Under the charter, the City Attorney was the legal adviser of all the city and county officials, and it was his business to define and construe this organic law, and the friends of the charter wished some one who was in sympathy with the instrument to give it initial construction.
I was nominated by the Democratic party by an independent movement and was elected; later re-elected, and elected for a third term. After an unsuccessful candidacy for the governorship, I was appointed a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission by President Roosevelt.
To John H. Wigmore
San Francisco, November 14, 1898