Dear Mr. McCombs,—I cannot go to California and make speeches for Governor Wilson without resigning from the Commission. Four years ago two Republican members of the Commission were strongly urged at a critical time in the campaign to get into Mr. Taft’s fight so as to help with the labor vote. I insisted that they should not do it, and the matter was brought before the Commission, and we then decided that no member of the Commission should take part in politics. So you see when the telegrams began to come in this year, urging that I go out to California and the other Pacific Coast states, I was compelled to say that I was stopped by my position of four years ago.
I have never wanted to get into a campaign as much as I have this one. Governor Wilson represents all that I have been fighting for, for the last twenty years in my State; but I think that it would be almost fatal to the independence and high repute of this Commission for its members to take part in a national campaign. We have so much power that we can exercise upon the railroads and upon railroad men that any announcement made by a member of this Commission could properly be construed as a threat or a suggestion that should be heeded by the wise. I know that this view of the matter will appeal to you as entirely sensible when you reflect upon it, and to my impatient friends in California, to whom it has been very hard to say no.
I am glad to see that you are holding the fight up so hard at the tail end of the campaign. That is when Democratic campaigns have so often been lost. Governor Wilson is maintaining himself splendidly, and our one danger has been over-confidence. Sincerely yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
About the political situation he wrote to one of his former Assistants in the City and County Attorney’s office in San Francisco
To Hugo K. Asher
Washington, October 22,1912
My dear Hugo,—I have your long letter which you promised in your telegram. Now, old man, I want to have a perfectly open talk with you. I understand your attitude of affectionate ambition for me, and I am mighty proud of it, that after the years we were associated together, the ups and downs we had, you feel the way you do.
Wilson is going to be elected unless some miracle happens, and I would tremendously like to get out to California and speak to the people once more. You do not know just how the old lust for battle has come over me. Following your telegram came a letter from McCombs, the Chairman of the National Committee, saying that he had received a lot of telegrams urging him to have me go and that Governor Wilson would like me to. But I wrote him precisely as I have you. If the members of this Commission once get into politics, the institution is gone to hell, for we can make or unmake any candidate we wish. This is the most powerful body in the United States, and we must act with a full sense of the responsibility that is on us ...