By 1912 the Washington State Socialist Labor Party had become a permanent afterthought, even among Socialists. Some could argue that the Party had actually become a cult, centered around the personality of SLP guru Daniel De Leon, who died in 1914. Wanting to remain ideologically pure, the idea of making compromises and engaging in practical politics was repugnant to SLP leaders.
Yet, the Party persevered. You could still find them on the Washington State ballot as a gubernatorial option in my lifetime as voter. I always wondered why the heck I would have two or three Socialist splinter choices in the voting booth. I suppose in new movements what mainstream voters would think of as small details take on huge significance in 3rd parties-- Left, Right, or otherwise.
In 1912 the SLP appeared to have just a normal working guy as their candidate for Governor. Abraham Lincoln Brearcliff (or Brearcliffe as he was later called) was born Dec. 7, 1864 in Red Bluff, Calif. into a large family, the first Ungovernor born West of the Rockies. His parents. Stephen and Mary Jane (Wilson) Brearcliff were immigrants. He was from England, she from Northern Ireland. They named their son after the sitting President, Abraham Lincoln, the same man who transformed federal government into the centralized power we know today.
Abe, as he was known, worked as a "tinner." Iron work, sheet metal, welding. In 1885 he is on record as a tinner in the Red Bluff area, but in the next year he moved south a bit to Marysville, Calif. It seems he moved to Washington Territory about 1888, according to his obituary. He does turn up in an 1890 Tacoma labor list and it is possible he spent his initial years up here in T-Town.
He married Annie T. Ferguson July 6, 1898, probably in King County. Annie, who was born in 1875, died in 1901. On Columbus Day, 1902 he married Mary Jane Monette, who was apparently related to J.W. Monette, another SLP activist.
In 1904 Abe and J.W. both ran for the Supreme Court under the SLP ticket. Another family connection was brother-nephew-or father Stephen Brearcliff who served as the Washington representative on the SLP National Executive Committee in 1909. At some point in his career, Abe also ran for the office of Mayor of Seattle.
Abe's role in the 1912 election appears to have been very marginal. He came in sixth out of six candidates, garnering 1,369 votes out of 248,729 cast. He did place fifth in Ferry and Jefferson counties but in almost half the counties he received votes only in the single digits (1 vote each in Garfield and Island counties).
But in one way Abe had the last laugh. He far outlived all his 1912 opponents. By 1920 he was working as a metalworker for the City of Seattle. In 1936 he retired and moved to North Bend, where his son owned a ranch. He died May 9, 1948, age 85, in a North Bend hospital. His activism in the SLP in general, and his 1912 run for Governor in particular, were the central points in his obituary, even as the post WWII Red Scare was just starting.