During the second nominating convention for Carter, there was a big scandal in Franklin County, the sheriff was indicted. He resigned, and they were looking for a clean candidate. The treasurer of the Democratic State Committee came into our hotel room to tell Poppy that they were considering her for appointment by the Governor as Sheriff of Franklin County. Things were going along swimmingly, and the next day on the convention floor Governor Dukakis came up to her, he looked down and he said, "Are you pregnant?" She said, "Yes." He said, "Oh -- congratulations." And that was the end of the Sheriff job. The vaunted liberal couldn't fathom the idea of a pregnant sheriff, even in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We've got this huge reputation of being a liberal state, but it's nonsense. We're more tight-assed than Oklahoma, and we don't have any patience for uppity, unconventional women.
Since we were active in Mo Udall's Presidential campaign, we went to the meeting where they elect delegates to the Presidential nominating convention who serve on the National Committee for four years. We got to the meeting and Charlie Flahrety who was the speaker of the House at the time and a good friend of Poppy's & mine, suggested that she run for delegate, to be on the National Committee. It sounded alright to Poppy and so we went around and politicked.
The Udall delegation split right down the middle on Poppy. She was the most liberal woman in the room, but there were a few problems -- she had a firearms I.D. card because I always had a shotgun in the car for bird hunting and she didn't want to get arrested. She didn't quite meet their litmus test, so only about half of them voted for her. I can see Poppy's having trouble with the Udall people. Some of the Carter people voted for her too, but their vote was split. There was a lawyer named Al Faricci, one of the spokesmen for the Wallace delegation. Al was one of these guys who was constantly in trouble with the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He was a vigorous advocate on behalf of his clients, who were usually charged with mob crimes . . . Al had no patience with the establishment, let's put it that way. He's saying about Poppy, "Hey, that broad's a real liberal!" and Dapper O'Neil, a city councilman from Boston, says "Yeah, yeah, she's liberal all right, but she's a broad you can talk to, just vote for her!" Poppy got the entire vote of the George Wallace delegation, and she became the National Committeewoman.
We got kind of friendly with Tip O'Neil -- Poppy was kinda his delegate to the National Committee. She was doing a lot of politicking, around the state and in Washington. So she finally got the bug, decided she wanted to run for Congress in 1980 against Silvio Conte. Tip O'Neil froze her, because of Conte. He was ranking Republican on appropriations, among other things. . . He'd been Tip O'Neil's roommate, and Eddie Bolan -- who was the Congressman from Springfield's best friend. He and Tip and Eddie Bolan hung out together. So she started a campaign. We went to Washington, we went to all the women's organizations. One, either N.O.W, or some other women's group, made me sit in the anteroom, they wouldn't let me go in when Poppy talked to the people who were trying to decide whether to give her money. The next group we went to wouldn't allow me in the building. When I walked into the reception room with her they said "I'm sorry, we don't allow men here, you"ll have to wait outside." They didn't mean outside the office, they meant out on the street. They didn't give her any money. Nobody gave her any money, because O'Neil and Conte put the kibosh on the money. Poppy went to a union local in Pittsfield, Conte's home town. I can't remember which local it was. Pittsfield's a big industrial town. Conte had stood by while General Electric moved out, and he just patted them on the back as they left town.
They were huge contributors to the campaign. Poppy went over to address the union. They accused her of being a liberal, and asked her what her stand on gun control was. She reached into her wallet and said, "I got my firearms I.D. card, how many of you guys got one?" She didn't ever tell them her stand on gun control, which wasn't exactly compatible with theirs. So the local voted her their contribution, and called Washington to tell'em to send it to Poppy, and in Washington they said, "It's too late, we sent it to Conte. You don't get a vote on that."
She had a lot of people stand on line with her at factory gates, and she did very well, very well. Essentially we ran a campaign for Congress on $17,000. At one point she showed at 70% in the polls. Jimmy Carter came to Boston, he had a $1000 fundraiser, and one of the Polish farmers out here in the Pioneer Valley, very active in Democratic politics, came up with the $1000 and went down to the luncheon for Carter for the sole reason of going up to Tip O'Neil and saying "You're a lousy Democrat. You're screwing Poppy Doyle. I know you're doing it, and I want you to know that we all know you're doing it. So the next time you stand up to say what a wonderful Democrat you are, just remember that we all know you're not." He paid $1000 for that. It didn't help the campaign any, but we had a thousand laughs.
Bob Doyle was born, in 1937, at Northampton, Massachusetts. He attended public schools and graduated from Holy Cross College (1959), and obtained his law degree from Georgetown (1963). He served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1961, mostly at the Pentagon on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has practiced law in Northampton from 1963 to the present and has been active in Democratic politics ("it seems forever"). He lives in the foothills of the Berkshires. With his friend and colleague, Peter D'Errico, he has for the past decade represented, among others, traditional native peoples and nations. He is married to Poppy McCluskey and they have eight children.