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1959 Mississippi gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1959 Mississippi Democratic gubernatorial primary runoff
Flag of Mississippi (1894-1996).svg

← 1955 August 25, 1959 1963 →
Ross Barnett.jpg
Carroll Gartin.jpg
Nominee Ross Barnett Carroll Gartin
Party Democratic Democratic
Popular vote 230,557 193,706
Percentage 54.34% 45.66%

Mississippi Governor 1959.svg
County Results

Barnett:      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%      80-90%

Gartin:      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%

Governor before election

James P. Coleman

Elected Governor

Ross Barnett

The 1959 Mississippi gubernatorial election took place on November 3, 1959, in order to elect the Governor of Mississippi. Incumbent Democrat James P. Coleman was term-limited, and could not run for reelection to a second term. As was common at the time, the Democratic candidate ran unopposed in the general election so therefore the Democratic primary was the real contest, and winning the primary was considered tantamount to election.[1]

Democratic primary

After the Brown ruling about school desegregation and the 1957 Little Rock Crisis, the defense of segregation and white supremacy across the South became a paramount concern, and all candidates ran as segregationists.[2][3]

Ross Barnett, who already ran on 1951 and 1955, ran with the support of the Citizens' Councils, former Bilbo partisans and the covert help of Senator James Eastland as a "vigorous segregationist", as he told himself.[4][5]

Carroll Gartin ran in the continuity of Coleman.

Sullivan was relatively more moderate on the race subject; he also ran on a promise to end prohibition.[2] He received covert help from Eastland, who wanted to hamstrung Gartin.[4]

Robert Mason was a perennial candidate who ran on a white supremacy platform, promising to have money printed to fund Mississippi budget: "They’re turning out the money on those free presses. And that’s good. Let’em keep turning some of that free press money to Mississippi". He opposed he end of prohibition. He said he saved money so that, every two or three years, he could either travel or run for governor, adding that he did so on the suggestion of his wife.[6]

No candidate received a majority in the Democratic primary, which featured 4 contenders, so a runoff was held between the top two candidates. The runoff election was won by trial lawyer Ross Barnett, who defeated Lieutenant Governor Carroll Gartin; both ran as rabid segregationists to the dismay of the relatively more moderate incumbent Coleman, each one trying to tar the other side with association with pro-integration forces.[7]


Mississippi Democratic gubernatorial primary, 1959[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ross Barnett 155,508 35.26
Democratic Carroll Gartin 151,043 34.25
Democratic Charles L. Sullivan 131,792 29.88
Democratic Robert F. Mason[6] 2,704 0.61
Total votes 441,047 100.00


Mississippi Democratic gubernatorial primary runoff, 1959[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ross Barnett 230,557 54.34
Democratic Carroll Gartin 193,706 45.66
Total votes 424,263 100.00

General election

In the general election, Barnett ran unopposed.


Mississippi gubernatorial election, 1959[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ross Barnett 57,671 100.00
Total votes 57,671 100.00
Democratic hold


  1. ^ Busbee Jr, Westley F. (2014-10-28). Mississippi: A History. John Wiley & Sons. p. 309. ISBN 978-1-118-75592-1.
  2. ^ a b Dickerson, James L.; Jr, Alex A. Alston (2009). Devil's Sanctuary: An Eyewitness History of Mississippi Hate Crimes. Chicago Review Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-56976-316-2.
  3. ^ Klarman, Michael J. (2006). From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality. Oxford University Press. pp. 401–402. ISBN 978-0-19-531018-4.
  4. ^ a b Wilkie, Curtis (2002-05-16). Dixie: A Personal Osyssey Through Historic Events That Shaped the Modern South. Simon and Schuster. pp. 91–93. ISBN 978-0-7432-2604-2.
  5. ^ Nash, Jere; Taggart, Andy (2010-04-13). Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976-2008, Second Edition. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-62846-980-6.
  6. ^ a b Perry, Brian (October 19, 2016). "PERRY/Political circus nothing new". The Neshoba Democrat. Philadelphia, Mississippi. Retrieved 2017-07-18.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Crespino, Joseph (2007). In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution. Princeton University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-691-12209-0.
  8. ^ "MS Governor D Primary 1959". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  9. ^ "MS Governor D Primary Runoff 1959". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  10. ^ "MS Governor 1959". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
This page was last edited on 4 March 2021, at 00:46
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