"Machine to make nominations" Lynne Washofsky The Crimson White November 1, 1973
Nervous smiles, whispered gossip, and wildfire rumors are building towards the first climax of this Student Government Association (SGA) pre-election season.
Sources say that the Machine, the secret political organization of 14 social and one professional fraternities, will slate its nominees for 1974 SGA executive posts Sunday night. SGA elections are scheduled for Feb. 4.
Since its creation in 1915, the Machine has held a dominant, often decisive, hand in campus politics. It has derived its strength by controlling votes of fraternity brothers and by parceling out generous campaign funds to its nominees.
Presently, the machine consists of representatives from Sigma Nu, Beta Theta Pi, Phi Gamma Delta, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Chi, Theta Chi, Zeta Beta Tau, Delta Tau Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma, and Theta Tau. Each house has two secret ballot votes.
This year the Machine president is Harry Caldwell, a Pi Kappa Phi, and is secretary is Toby Copeland, a Sigma Chi. The secretary is traditionally the last new Machine member to be “brought down” the preceding Spring. He has the job of telephoning Machine members on Sunday afternoons to inform them of the location of that night’s meeting.
Traditionally, the Machine meets on Sunday nights in the basements of member fraternities to discuss recent political happenings. About this time each year, the Machine settles down to the business of nominating candidates.
The Machine politico most frequently mentioned as a candidate is Bill Blount. SGA observers say that Blount has been running for the presidency since his freshman year. By holding an impressive number of important positions, Blount has amassed a wide base of support. He presently serves as Off-Campus Association (OCA) president, Arts and Sciences Senator, Senate Finance Committee chairman and Student Directory chairman.
Blount, an expert campaigner, is said to have a phenomenal memory for names. He has a friendly and outgoing personality which sometimes comes off as overly aggressive. In fact, one SGA insider said that Blount is “overkilling his chances by running too hard.”
Blount’s chances may also be hurt by his rather long list of political enemies, both in and out of the Machine. Blount is probably one of the hardest working senators, although his voting record has been accused of inconsistency.
Because of his aggressive friendliness and articulate manner of speech, Blount has acquired a “grass roots” image, a great campaign advantage.
It was acknowledged among close observers last spring that Blount had the Machine nomination “wrapped up.” As Sunday night approaches, however, the gap is reportedly closing between Blount and other possible candidates.
One of these candidates is Grady Perdue. Perdue, a Delta Tau Delta, has support among non-Machine fraternities and sororities through his work as Interfraternity Council (IFC) president. The Machine reportedly voted Perdue IFC president to pacify his interest in the SGA presidency last year.
Perdue is a dynamic speaker who usually makes a very favorable first impression. In SGA circles, however, he is not known for his political propriety.
According to several sources, the Machine decision between Blount and Perdue is so close that it could be determined by the votes of one house.
That is assuming, however, that George Hardesty does not enter the race. One insider predicted that Hardesty would receive the nomination if he tried for it.
Hardesty, a Delta Kappa Epsilon, has not been as politically active as Blount and Perdue. Consequently, he is relatively unknown outside of SGA circles, but has acquired only a small number of political enemies.
Hardesty has received much of his present political stature through appointments within the present executive branch, including the presidency of the School of Commerce and Business Administration and the summer SGA vice-presidency. Hardesty is also OCA vice-president and chairman of the Faculty Course Evaluation Committee.
Hardesty’s administrative experience is impressive, but several sources say that he is not known for his organization or campaign abilities.
Close SGA observers contrast the political images of Blount and Hardesty. Hardesty, they say, has a more reserved friendliness and sometimes even an aloofness, contrasted to the ready smile and quick handshake of Bill Blount.
Machine nominees for SGA Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer should also be slated Sunday night. There is a good possibility that any of the three contenders for the presidency may fill one of these slots if his bid for the top office is unsuccessful.
Loring Jones, a Sigma Chi and president pro temporate of the Senate, has quietly mentioned himself as a contender for the vice-presidential nomination. Once viewed as bright corner in the SGA scene, his political career seems to have lost momentum.
Prime possibilities for Secretary-Treasurer spot are Theta Tau Sid Leach and Sigma Chi Toby Copeland.
Leach, who seems to be assured the nomination, is almost unanimously seen as a very qualified person to fill the number three spot. He is a Commuter Senator and chairman of the Rules committee. Copeland is a C&BA senator.