Dewey was district attorney of New York County in 1937 and 1938. Unsuccessful as the Republican candidate for governor of New York in 1938, Dewey won the state office for three successive terms beginning in 1942. As governor, he earned a reputation for political moderation and administrative efficiency, putting the state on a pay-as-you-go basis for capital building, reorganizing departments, and establishing the first state agency to eliminate racial and religious discrimination in employment.
The Republican nominee for U.S. president in 1944, Dewey was not able to overcome the enormous prestige of incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt, nor had he been expected to. Dewey refused to make an issue of the Pearl Harbor disaster of December 1941, but he charged the Democrats with inefficiencies in rearmament, an antibusiness stance, extravagance, and corruption. He also condemned Roosevelt's support of the Soviet Union. Roosevelt won the 1944 election with 25,606,585 popular votes and 432 electoral votes to Dewey's 22,321,018 popular votes and 99 electoral votes.
Dewey ran again for the presidency in 1948 against Roosevelt's successor, incumbent Harry S Truman. Although the pollsters predicted victory for Dewey, Truman won. Dewey then returned to private law practice. He died on 16 March 1971 in Bal Harbor, Florida.
John A. Komaromy
Donaldson, Gary A. Truman Defeats Dewey. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.; Smith, Richard Northon. Thomas Dewey and His Times. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.; Stolberg, Mary M. Fighting Organized Crime: Politics, Justice and the Legacy of Thomas E. Dewey. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995.