Job Harriman’s gifts for organizing and oratory had helped the Los Angeles branch of the Socialist Party grow from just seven affiliated clubs in 1890 to a countywide network with members in Santa Monica, San Pedro, Glendale, Long Beach, Bellflower, Buena Park, Fullerton, and other communities. He had barnstormed the state while running for governor on the socialist ticket in 1898. In 1900, as the party’s vice presidential candidate, Harriman ran with Debs on the Socialist Party ticket.
Harriman was even better known in Los Angeles as the defender of union members jailed for violating the city’s anti-organizing and street meeting ordinances.
Harriman’s true opponents, however, weren’t at city hall. They were at the Los Angeles Times building on First Street, personified by Harrison Gray Otis, the paper’s fiery antiunion publisher, and in the boardroom of the Merchant and Manufacturers’ Association, whose members were just as reactionary as Otis. According to the San Francisco Bulletin, the members of the Merchant and Manufacturers’ had only one principle: “We will employ no union man.”
In addition to being an advocate of progressive causes, Harriman was on the right side of the ideological split within the socialist movement which separated the moderate majority that followed Eugene Debs from a faction led by Daniel De Leon, one of the founders of the radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). More