Grimes: Republicans haven’t really changed Georgia politics | Online Athens

4
Jun

Grimes: Republicans haven’t really changed Georgia politics | Online Athens

This is a great article that should be required reading for Georgia Republican activists, party officials, candidates and political consultants.

As editor of the Columbus Enquirer, I had a front row seat for the Republicans’ struggle to establish themselves as a viable second party in Georgia. The early leaders were mainly from the Columbus area. In 1962, A. Edward Smith, an attorney, became the first Republican candidate for governor since 1870, but after gaining the necessary signatures to get his name on the general election ballot, Smith was killed in an automobile accident.

Two years later, Howard “Bo” Callaway of Pine Mountain became the first Republican congressman from Georgia, winning in the 3rd District against Democratic Garland Byrd. Callaway was nominated for governor in 1966, but would lose to Democrat Lester Maddox.

Maddox had squeezed into a Democratic runoff with former Gov. Ellis Arnall with only 19 percent of the primary vote, edging out future governor and U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as well as Albany newspaper publisher James Gray and Byrd, a former lieutenant governor.

Maddox had gained fame for chasing African Americans out of his restaurant with a pistol and a pickaxe. He then closed the restaurant rather than obey a court order to serve all comers.

Callaway had the financing, but couldn’t get to the right of Maddox. And actually, Callaway lost the governorship by a single vote. That vote was cast by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black of Alabama, when the court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld Georgia’s law that the state legislature would elect a governor from the two top candidates.

via Grimes: Republicans haven’t really changed Georgia politics | Online Athens.

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