Tom Watson unexpectedly becomes president upon the death of William Jennings Bryan.
Anthracite Coal Strike
A strike breaks out at the coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania. Tom Watson tries to negotiate. However, he strongly sides with the workers and as a result rejects the demands of the owners. Watson asks for Congress to pass the Coal Nationalization Act in order to nationalize the coal industry. Like attempts to nationalize other industries this fails. The strike lasts into winter. Leading to a very cold winter with a major coal shortage.
Theodore Roosevelt, a hero of the Spanish-American War strongly criticizes Watson saying the solution is not to nationalize the coal industry, but to form a commission to meet with labor and business leaders to reach a compromise. In 1902 after the terrible winter Congress overwhelmingly passes a bill that does not nationalize the coal industry but requires better working conditions for those that had been found to be constitutional before and grants a tax incentive for those it had been found unconstitutional to mandate directly. This starts a strong political rivalry between Roosevelt and Watson.
Crime rates had been up, and Roosevelt was known as a wet candidate, he wanted to repeal prohibition.
Roosevelt a moderate in the Republican Party easily defeats the more radical Tom Watson winning in a landslide.