William Frederick Varney
William Varney was an influential Prohibitionist in New York. In addition to being the national Prohibition Party candidate for President in 1928, he ran for various New York offices on the Law Preservation Party ticket.
-- Gammon, 2007, p. 106
The Long Island Press published this feature article about Varney on the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary (reprinted in the National Prohibitionist, Nov-Dec 1955, p. 2):
William Fredrick Varney was born on October 1st, 1884, in Patterson, New Jersey. He as the son of Rev. F.W. Varney. He worked in the textile industry in New Jersey and Long Island from 1902 to 1919, and had worked as an insurance agent from 1919, to 1957. At some point he established his permanent home in Rockville Centre, New York. Varney joined the Prohibition Party in 1906. In 1910, he ran in the 1st district of the New York State Senate. He received 458 votes (1.51%) and came in 3rd place. He was country chairman for the party in 1912. He worked as a field secretary for the Prohibition Party in New Jersey from 1912 to 1919. He had helped direct successful election campaigns in Gloucester County in 1914. In 1924, he was considered as a possible nominee for President at the 1924 convention and came in 3rd place, behind 1924 Prohibition Party candidate Herman P. Faris, and A.P. Gouttey. He served on the Prohibition National Committee for New York from 1924-1928. In 1928, the condition for the Prohibition Party was somewhat grim. There were challenges against national prohibition. The promise of Republican candidate Herbert Hoover to protect prohibition, combined with anti-Catholic backlash against Democratic candidate Al Smith served to pressure voters to vote for Hoover instead of the Prohibition Party candidate, and elements of the Prohibition Party wanted to shy away from challenging Hoover. But William Varney through his hat in the ring and become the party’s 1928 candidate for President. During the 1928 election, Varney campaigned for strengthening enforcement of national prohibition. He stated that “The wet and dry issue is the only real issue in the coming campaign. I will abide no consideration of religious prejudice in my fight for the presidency. This is a free country and its people have the right to vote any way they please regardless of religious beliefs.” "I could never identify myself with a party which licensed the traffic of alcohol," "A divided constituency will never achieve the enforcement of prohibition. Lincoln said no man can be half slave and half free. I maintain no party can be half wet and half dry. There should be no pussyfooting.” In the election, he received 20,106 votes. While these results may not have been large compared to previous elections, Varney still managed to do fairly well, given the challenging circumstances he was in. In 1932, Varney ran for New York’s 1st congressional district. He received 4,195 votes (1.48%), and came in 4th place. And in 1933, he ran for Mayor of Rockville Center. In 1934, Varney ran as the Prohibition Party candidate for governor under the Law Preservation ticket (at the time the New York Prohibition Party was using name Law Preservation, in connection to its support for preserving national prohibition). He received 20,449 votes (0.54% and came in 5th place). Unfortunately, this was not enough votes for the Prohibition Party to be able to maintain its automatic ballot access in the state. Since that election, the Prohibition Party has not been able to get a candidate for Governor on ballot in New York in any election so far. Though the New York Prohibition Party continued for some time after that. In 1936, Varney was state chairman, and the Prohibition Party held its national convention in Niagara Falls, New York. The Prohibition Party managed to continue placing candidates on ballot for various offices in the state up to 1940. Though the Prohibition Party may have lost its ballot access in New York andeventually lost its state organization for a time, Varney had valiantly sought to preserve it. Varney passed away of December 14th, 1960.
"American Advance." Google Books. Accessed May 23, 2018.
-- Contributed by Jonathan Makeley