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Florida gubernatorial election, 1970

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Florida gubernatorial election, 1970

← 1966 November 3, 1970 1974 →

Florida Governor Reubin Askew (cropped).jpg
Kirk cropped.jpg
Nominee Reubin Askew Claude R. Kirk, Jr.
Party Democratic Republican
Running mate Thomas B. Adams Jr. Ray C. Osborne
Popular vote 984,305 746,243
Percentage 56.9% 43.1%

Florida Governor Election Results by County, 1970.svg
County Results

Askew:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

Kirk:      50–60%      60–70%

Governor before election

Claude R. Kirk, Jr.

Elected Governor

Reubin Askew

The Florida gubernatorial election of 1970 took place on November 3, 1970, to determine the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Florida, concurrent with the election to the United States Senate, elections to the United States House of Representatives, and various state and local elections.

Incumbent Republican Governor Claude R. Kirk Jr. chose to run for a second term, with this being the first election in which the incumbent would be eligible for another four-year term. The first Republican elected governor since the Reconstruction Era, Kirk was challenged by Eckerd Corporation founder Jack Eckerd and State Senator Louis A. "Skip" Bafalis for his party's nomination. After failing to receive a majority, Kirk prevailed over Eckerd in a runoff. The primary for the Democratic Party nomination featured a four candidate field, with Florida Attorney General Earl Faircloth and President pro tempore of the Florida Senate Reubin Askew advancing to a runoff. Askew won the runoff and received the nomination of the Democratic Party.

This was the first election since the re-establishment of the office of Lieutenant Governor. Askew selected Florida Secretary of State Thomas Burton Adams Jr., while Kirk chose to run with incumbent Ray C. Osborne. Primarily due to controversial statements and actions during his term, as well as his inability to portray Askew as an extreme liberal as he had done with Robert King High in 1966, Kirk lost re-election to Askew in the general election by a margin of 56.88% to 43.12%.

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  • Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?


Once upon a time, every student of history – and that meant pretty much everyone with a high school education – knew this: The Democratic Party was the party of slavery and Jim Crow, and the Republican Party was the party of emancipation and racial integration. Democrats were the Confederacy; and Republicans were the Union. Jim Crow Democrats were dominant in the South; and socially tolerant Republicans were dominant in the North. But then, in the 1960s and 70s, everything supposedly flipped: suddenly the Republicans became the racists and the Democrats became the champions of civil rights. Fabricated by left-leaning academic elites and journalists, the story went like this: Republicans couldn't win a national election by appealing to the better nature of the country; they could only win by appealing to the worst. Attributed to Richard Nixon, the media's all-purpose bad guy, this came to be known as "The Southern Strategy." It was very simple. Win elections by winning the South. And to win the South, appeal to racists. So, the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, were to now be labeled the party of rednecks. But this story of the two parties switching identities is a myth. In fact, it's three myths wrapped into one false narrative. Let's take a brief look at each myth in turn. Myth Number One: In order to be competitive in the South, Republicans started to pander to white racists in the 1960s. Fact: Republicans actually became competitive in the South as early as 1928, when Republican Herbert Hoover won over 47 percent of the South's popular vote against Democrat Al Smith. In 1952, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower won the southern states of Tennessee, Florida and Virginia. And in 1956, he picked up Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, too. And that was after he supported the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated public schools; and after he sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock Central High School to enforce integration. Myth Number Two: Southern Democrats, angry with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, switched parties. Fact: Of the 21 Democratic senators who opposed the Civil Rights Act, just one became a Republican. The other 20 continued to be elected as Democrats, or were replaced by other Democrats. On average, those 20 seats didn't go Republican for another two-and-a-half decades. Myth Number Three: Since the implementation of the Southern Strategy, the Republicans have dominated the South. Fact: Richard Nixon, the man who is often credited with creating the Southern Strategy, lost the Deep South in 1968. In contrast, Democrat Jimmy Carter nearly swept the region in 1976 - 12 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And in 1992, over 28 years later, Democrat Bill Clinton won Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. The truth is, Republicans didn't hold a majority of southern congressional seats until 1994, 30 years after the Civil Rights Act. As Kevin Williamson writes at the National Review: "If southern rednecks ditched the Democrats because of a civil-rights law passed in 1964, it is strange that they waited until the late 1980s and early 1990s to do so. They say things move slower in the south -- but not t hat slow." So, what really happened? Why does the South now vote overwhelmingly Republican? Because the South itself has changed. Its values have changed. The racism that once defined it, doesn't anymore. Its values today are conservative ones: pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-small government. And here's the proof: Southern whites are far more likely to vote for a black conservative, like Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, than a white liberal. In short, history has moved on. Like other regions of the country, the South votes values, not skin color. The myth of the Southern Strategy is just the Democrats excuse for losing the South. And yet another way to smear Republicans with the label "racist". Don't buy it. I'm Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, for Prager University.



Incumbent Governor of Florida Claude R. Kirk Jr. was the first Republican who held Florida's governorship since Reconstruction. He was elected in 1966, when Republicans has made some gains in traditionally Democratic Deep South.[1] During his tenure as governor, the Florida Legislature created a new Constitution in 1968, which was approved by voters on November 5, 1968. As part of the new Constitution, the office of Lieutenant Governor was re-established.[2] Kirk appointed Ray C. Osborne, a Florida House of Representatives member from Pinellas County.[3] The new Constitution also allowed for the Governor of Florida to serve two terms.[4] Kirk was thus eligible for re-election in 1970.[1]

Republican primary

During the Republican primary, incumbent Claude Kirk was challenged by State Senator Louis A. Bafalis from Palm Beach and Eckerd founder Jack Eckerd of Clearwater. The Miami Herald endorsed Eckerd, stating that he is "an efficient campaigner with the ability to bring people together constructively. ... [Eckerd has] a common touch, dedication to high principle, and organizing genius." William C. Cramer, a powerful Republican in the state and the party's senate nominee for that year, publicly remained neutral during the primary, but voted for Eckerd. Later, Eckerd himself would state, "I was offended by his [Kirk's] public behavior and chagrined that he was a Republican."[5]

In the primary election held on September 8, Kirk reached first place with 48.16% of the vote, compared to 38.37% for Eckerd, and 13.48% for Bafalis. However, because Kirk failed to receive a majority of the votes, he and Eckerd advanced to a run-off election.[5]

Republican Primary – September 8, 1970
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Claude R. Kirk Jr. 172,888 48.16
Republican Jack Eckerd 137,731 38.37
Republican Louis A. Bafalis 48,378 13.48
Total votes 358,997 100


In the run-off election on September 29, Kirk earned 199,943 votes versus Eckerd's 152,327 votes, by 47,616 votes – a margin of approximately 13.52%.[5]

Republican Primary run-off – September 29, 1970
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Claude R. Kirk Jr. 199,943 56.76
Republican Jack Eckerd 152,327 43.24
Total votes 352,270 100

Democratic primary


In primaries, held on September 8, none of these candidates was able to win majority. As a result, the top two finishers, Faircloth and Askew, advanced to a runoff election.[6]

Democratic Primary – September 8, 1970
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Earl Faircloth 227,413 29.96
Democratic Reubin Askew 206,333 27.18
Democratic John E. Matthews 186,053 24.51
Democratic Chuck Hall 139,384 18.36
Total votes 759,183 100


Although the primary election was a close race, Askew defeated Faircloth by a relatively wide margin in the run-off election on September 29. Askew earned 447,025 votes against Faircloth's 328,038 votes, by 312,158 votes – a margin of approximately 15.36%.[7] Askew selected Florida Secretary of State Thomas Burton Adams Jr. to be his running mate.

Democratic Primary run-off – September 29, 1970
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Reubin Askew 447,025 57.68
Democratic Earl Faircloth 328,038 42.32
Total votes 775,063 100

General election

In response to the schism between Cramer and Kirk, the Miami Herald endorsed Askew and noted that "Askew and Chiles form a logical team; Kirk and Cramer don’t". Kirk mocked Askew as a "momma’s boy who wouldn’t have the courage to stand up under the fire of the legislators" and as a "nice, sweet-looking fellow chosen by ‘liberals’ ... to front for them."[5] Despite promising no new taxes and several attempts to label Askew a "liberal", Kirk had overseen what was then the largest tax increase in Florida history.[8]

Askew and Adams defeated incumbents Governor Kirk and Lieutenant Governor Ray C. Osborn with respectable margin.[9]

Gubernatorial Election– November 3, 1970
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Reubin Askew/Thomas Burton Adams, Jr. 984,305 56.88
Republican Claude Roy Kirk, Jr./Ray C. Osborne 746,243 43.12
Total votes 1,730,548 100

On the very same day Florida elected to the United States Senate Democrat Lawton Chiles, who later was elected Governor in 1990.[10]


  1. ^ a b David Bauerlein (September 28, 2011). "Former Florida governor Claude Kirk dies". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Florida Constitution". Florida Constitution. pp. Article IV, §&nbsp, 5. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  3. ^ "Ray Osborne". Tampa Bay Times. September 3, 1970. p. 72. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  4. ^ "The Florida Constitution". Florida Constitution. pp. Article IV, §&nbsp, 2, clause b. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Billy Hathorn (April 1990). "Cramer v. Kirk: The Florida Republican Schism of 1970,"". Florida Historical Quarterly. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  6. ^ Our Campaigns – FL Governor – D Primary Race – Sep 08, 1970
  7. ^ Our Campaigns – FL Governor – D Runoff Race – Oct 03, 1970
  8. ^ Martin A. Dyckman (2011). Reubin O'D. Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics. University Press of Florida. p. 416. ISBN 0813035716.
  9. ^ Our Campaigns – FL Governor Race – Nov 03, 1970
  10. ^ David Binder (December 14, 1998). "Gov. Lawton Chiles of Florida, Populist and Former Senator, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
This page was last edited on 18 October 2018, at 21:44
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