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1937 United States Senate elections

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There was one special election to the United States Senate in 1937 during the 75th United States Congress.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
(Class 2)
Joseph Robinson Democratic 1913
Incumbent died July 14, 1937, having just been re-elected.
New senator elected October 18, 1937.
Democratic hold.

Arkansas (Special)

Arkansas special election

← 1936 October 19, 1937 (1937-10-19) 1942 →
John E. Miller.jpg
Nominee John E. Miller[a] Carl E. Bailey
Party Independent Democratic Democratic
Popular vote 65,802 43,125
Percentage 60.5%[1] 39.5%[2]

U.S. Senator before election

Joseph T. Robinson

Elected U.S. Senator

John E. Miller[a]
Independent Democratic

The Arkansas special election was held October 19, 1937 following the death of longtime Democratic Senator Joe T. Robinson. Robinson was a powerful senator, staunch Democrat, and strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was instrumental in passing many New Deal programs through the Senate. Arkansas was essentially a one-party state during the Solid South period; the Democratic Party controlled all aspects of state and local office. Recently elected Democratic Governor of Arkansas Carl E. Bailey initially considered appointing himself to finish Robinson's term, but later acceded to a nomination process by the Democratic Central Committee, avoiding a public primary but breaking a campaign process. Avoiding the primary so angered the public and establishment Democrats to coalesce behind longtime Democrat John E. Miller as an independent, forcing a general election.

The election was a public battle in a long-standing war between establishment politicians (Arkansas's "Old Guard" Democrats), conservative Democrats that repudiated the growing role of the United States government during the Progressive era, especially under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a growing populist and reform movement. Future governor Homer Adkins led the efforts to oppose Bailey, harboring a personal grudge since their time in the Pulaski County Courthouse. Voters ultimately rejected Bailey's power grab and handily elected Miller to fill the unexpired term.

Arkansas special senate election, 1937[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independent Democratic John E. Miller[a] 65,802 60.5
Democratic Carl E. Bailey 43,125 39.5
Total votes 108,927 100.0
Independent Democratic hold

Miller would serve in the term until 1941, retiring to become a judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. The remainder of the term would be filled by Lloyd Spencer (appointed), who did not stand election in 1942.


  1. ^ a b c Though he ran as an independent, Miller was so clearly a Democrat that most records indicate both candidates as Democrats, including the Official Congressional Directory.[3]
  1. ^ "Elections" (1950), pp. 32-33.
  2. ^ "Elections" (1950), pp. 32-33.
  3. ^ Joint Committee on Printing, Office of Congressional Directory (December 21, 1937). Official Congressional Directory. 75th Congress, 3d Session. Compiled by C.B. Deane (1st ed.). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. p. 6. LCCN 06035330. OCLC 1114304889. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "Elections" (1950), pp. 32-33.
This page was last edited on 23 January 2020, at 16:48
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