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South Carolina gubernatorial election, 1974

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

South Carolina gubernatorial election, 1974

← 1970 November 5, 1974 1978 →

U.S. Secretary of Energy James Edwards of South Carolina.jpg
W. J. Bryan Dorn.jpg
Nominee James B. Edwards W.J. Bryan Dorn
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 266,338 248,861
Percentage 50.3% 47.0%

Governor before election

John Carl West

Elected Governor

James B. Edwards

The 1974 South Carolina gubernatorial election was held on November 5, 1974 to select the governor of the state of South Carolina. James B. Edwards defeated W. J. Bryan Dorn and became the first Republican since Daniel Henry Chamberlain in 1874 to win a gubernatorial election in South Carolina. It was also the closest gubernatorial election in South Carolina since the disputed election of 1876.

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Hey, everyone. My name is Connor. I was looking around the internet and I was shocked to see that there were no good videos that quickly summed up the rollercoaster of a political career that was George Wallace. So I decided to be the one to change that. Let’s try to sum up George Wallace as quickly as we can. Ready? Okay, go. George Wallace was born in the rural city of Clio in southeastern Alabama in 1919. This was the starting point of some pretty rough times economically, but George was lucky enough to have been born into a family that wasn’t dirt-poor, though they weren’t filthy rich either. They would be best described as lower middle-class. At a young age, George would ride with his Grandfather on horseback and help deliver medical services to homes. During these rough economic times, George Wallace Sr. was very understanding, and many times his poorest clients were forced to pay with a chicken or something other than money. People just didn’t have money, and George C. Wallace hated seeing this. Perhaps this is what started George’s interest in politics from a very young age. He vowed to one day be governor of Alabama. He got into boxing also, giving him somewhat of a tough look. In 1938, at only 19 years old, George Wallace assisted his grandfather with a campaign for probate judge that would end in their favor. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and decided to enter training to be a pilot cadet in the army air corps. He didn’t finish the course, but he was a staff sergeant and assisted in flights. It was in the army where Wallace got spinal meningitis, an inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes, which nearly killed him. He would have died had it not been for the quick medical treatment he received, but he still had impaired hearing and nerve damage. He would be discharged from the army. Wallace finally began his own political adventure in May of 1946, where he would be elected to the Alabama house of representatives. Keep in mind that he was elected to the state’s legislative branch, not the national one. Not much happened as a representative, but he became a circuit judge in 1952. It was here that Wallace grew a reputation for being very liberal. Contrary to nearly every Alabama judge at the time, Wallace demanded that a black plaintiff be referred to as Mister of Miss, as opposed to just their first name or even just “those people”. This gained him a favorable reputation among the black community, as he [showed] little to no bias as far as race was concerned when handling court cases. However, everything was not as it may have seemed. Wallace also insisted that segregation signs remained in rail terminals, and he also blocked efforts by civil rights groups to expand black voter registration in Alabama. So was he a racist? Well, he was a moderate. While he favored segregation, he didn’t support the mistreatment of blacks as people. Finally, the time had come. Wallace was going to live up to the promise he had made to himself and run for governor. For the most part, no other major party candidate had a chance to win a governorship. So the real battle for governor happened in the democratic primaries. Wallace faced only one major threat: John Patterson, the state attorney general. Keep in mind that Alabama law prohibited a governor from serving two consecutive terms, so there was never an incumbent to face off against. During the battle for the nomination, Patterson was endorsed by the KKK. Wallace was endorsed by the NAACP. I could probably stop right there. Wallace campaigned that he treated people equally regardless of their skin color, and this was something he was clearly proud of. His main goal as governor would be to aid the poor, build schools and build roads, but race relations weren’t a huge part of his campaign. Needless to say, Wallace lost the nomination by nearly 35,000 votes. Four years come and go, John F. Kennedy is now the president, and John Patterson is the governor. But as the election approached, that was about to change. It’s time for Alabama’s 1962 governor race. This time around, George Wallace decided to rearrange his priorities. He adopted a very pro-segregation viewpoint. This wasn’t necessarily what he fully believed, but his attempts to be a populist required that he take on this viewpoint, or else he wouldn’t stand a chance. These views were solely a stunt that would get him elected. And they actually worked. George Wallace won the Democratic nomination, and by default the governorship. "I draw the line in the dust, and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever." George Wallace’s first term was absolutely insane. 1963 was the year that the civil rights movement really got tons of momentum. He tried to prevent four black students from being enrolled in 4 Huntsville elementary schools. When two black students tried to be accepted into the University of Alabama, Wallace famously blocked the entrance and spoke to a large crowd at the college. Wallace tried to turn the issue of segregation away from race and toward “big government” trying to intervene in locally-handled matters. "We are winning in this fight. Because we are awakening the American people to the dangers we have spoken about so many times, which is so evident today. A trend toward military dictatorship in this country." He called Martin Luther King Jr. a communist and claimed that JFK was trying to take their state away from them. There was also the bombing of the Birmingham church, which killed four young black girls. And the KKK kept growing and killing people. All in all, it was crazy. However, it wasn’t all bad. Schools went up statewide, including my own elementary school. He became the first southern governor to travel to corporate headquarters in the north to convince companies to bring industry to Alabama. So race relations aside, Wallace had a considerably decent first term. Wallace was ready to break into the realm of national politics. 1964 was the year he attempted to make a mark. He sought out the Democratic party’s nomination, and he was the only real threat to LBJ receiving the nomination, as every other contender for the nomination was just in an attempt to nominate Johnson. They were called favorite son candidates, mainly just candidates that were popular in their home state. Wallace was the only democratic candidate who disagreed with and opposed the nomination of Johnson. Wallace was dropping in support, and the nomination of Barry Goldwater on the Republican side made things somewhat awkward for Wallace, since Goldwater shared his opposition of the Civil Rights Act, whereas LBJ actually supported it. This made everyone feel a little bit strange, and LBJ easily won the nomination with Wallace winning no state contests, but still doing alright from a delegate standpoint. [Cuckoo Clock] It’s 1966, time to get re-elected as governor. But wait a second. There’s still an Alabama law that states that a governor cannot serve two consecutive terms. Uh-oh, George Wallace has to give up the governorship. Or does he? In a strange political move, George Wallace decided to run his wife, Lurleen Wallace, for governor as a surrogate candidate. This didn’t seem like it would work at first. Lurleen wasn’t a very political person, but as she campaigned and her husband convinced her, she developed her own personality, political views, and overall character. And she actually won. She was one of the first female governors in the nation, while George Wallace was the first gentleman; she remains to be the only female governor of Alabama. They managed to function very well together as a package deal. George was still acting like he was in power, but Lurleen was no doormat. One time, though, she ran out of the governor’s office and yelled “Where’s the Governor?” Her aides had to remind her that she was the governor. She responded “You know what I mean.” All in all, they were a great duo. [Cuckoo Clock] It’s 1968. Time to take another stab at the presidency. Going into this election, Wallace had a different idea as to how to approach it. After his strange experience with the last presidential election, he decided to distance himself from both parties and run under the American Independent Party. He easily won the nomination since it was his own party. He was quite famous all over the south, and he campaigned that he was the only candidate who opposed integration. He chose General Curtis LeMay as his running mate. Many saw this as a dopey move when LeMay made comments in favor of nuclear warfare, and this hurt Wallace’s campaign. Wallace wanted all the troops home from Vietnam within 90 days, contrary to the Democratic and Republican nominees, Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon respectively. He also strongly opposed the hippy movement, basically calling hippies “dirty unemployed deadbeats.” He fared very well by trying to appeal to what would now be referred to as the Silent Majority. Since he appealed more to conservatives, he was competing to win over Nixon voters. The Nixon campaign was actually a little bit scared of Wallace, and states like Ohio were up in the air. Wallace wasn’t going into this election hoping to win electorally. His main goal was to deadlock the electoral college by winning enough southern states and throw the vote to the house. Some things never change. Anyway, there he could bribe people to vote for him. The House had all the leverage and every state received one vote. If George Wallace could get enough representatives to vote for him, 26, he’d win the presidency. It was a long shot, but it wasn't impossible. His campaign was interfered with in May of 1968 when Lurleen Wallace died of cancer while serving as governor. He took weeks off from campaigning in order to mourn the loss of his wife. He pressed on and continued to campaign. Once November rolled around, Wallace underperformed. Though he did win 5 southern states, Richard Nixon won every other state that Wallace had a shot at, and Nixon got 301 electoral votes, which was enough for him to win the presidency. Wallace still won 46 electoral votes and 13.5% of the popular vote, making this the best electoral performance for a third party candidate since 1912, and no third party since has won a single state. Wallace trudged home to Alabama. He would get ‘em next time. But first, he still needs to become governor again. This time around, he actually was running against the incumbent that took over when his wife passed away. Albert Brewer, former Lieutenant Governor, was running against Wallace. Brewer actually sought support from black voters, something Wallace didn’t quite care to do. Wallace ran a pretty rough campaign against Brewer. He really smeared his hope to appeal to black voters in his face. Brewer claimed that Wallace’s presidential ambitions were keeping him out of Alabama too much. In response, Wallace called Brewer “Sissy Britches.” In an attempt to compromise, Wallace made a promise to not run for president in the 1972 election. The battle for the governorship was in dead heat, but Wallace barely managed to pull out a win in a runoff. Immediately after he won the governorship, he began to campaign for the 1972 Democratic nomination. Yeah, that’s right, Wallace decided to return to the Democratic Party. 1972 was a wild year for the Democratic Primaries. Richard Nixon hadn’t ended the Vietnam War, but he was considered by many to be a very good president. Going into the election, his approval rating was about 60%, give or take. While Nixon wasn’t undefeatable, it would take a real populist to turn the nation away from Nixon. And in comes Wallace, as well as a bunch of other people. Ted Kennedy was initially favored to win the nomination, but he said he wasn’t going to run. Makes sense, his two brothers were assassinated. Then Edmund Muskie came in. He was Hubert Humphrey's running mate in 1968, and was prepared to take on Richard Nixon. However, a smear campaign made it look like he was crying, and that really destroyed any chance he had. Hubert Humphrey was pressured to try for the nomination again, and while he did, he didn’t put loads of effort into it. He really didn’t want to go through the whole process all over again. George McGovern also threw his hat in the ring as the progressive candidate of the bunch, and he had grassroots support from hippies. But he didn’t have massive appeal. That opens up a spot for George Wallace, and this seemed like his year. He had finally taken a step back from his segregationist views, because he said he was never more than a moderate. "And segregation forever!" Yeah. Well, anyway, he was campaigning hard and his populism really caught on. Though he was somewhat of a social conservative, he was a fiscal liberal. So it looked like he really had a shot. Wallace became the frontrunner. The only problem he would really face is that he and Nixon were very much alike on many issues. Though they certainly had their differences, they weren’t polar opposites. Nixon didn’t want Wallace to get the nomination since he still held a grudge for Wallace nearly stealing his 1968 victory. Regardless, Wallace won every single county in the state of Florida, and he also won in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. He was campaigning in Maryland and gearing up for another victory. On his last day of campaigning, he hosted two rallies. The first one went well, and George was even asked by an audience member to come to the audience and shake the hands of his supporters. He declined to do this as he feared that he would be in danger. At the second rally, the same audience member asked Wallace to come into the audience. Despite his security guards urging him against it, Wallace decided to go into the crowd and shake hands. He even said that he would be liable for anything that happened to him, clearly expecting nothing. After all, this seemed like an innocent crowd. [Beep] George Wallace was shot down this afternoon as he campaigned in Maryland, not far from Washington. Governor Wallace had just finished speaking, and had taken off his coat and was shaking hands, when 4 or 5 shots were fired, two of them recorded in this film by ABC News cameraman Charlie Jones. [Gunshots] [Screams] On May 15, 1972, George Wallace was shot 5 times. The bullets mostly went into his chest and abdomen, but one was lodged into his spinal column. This rendered him paralyzed from the waist down. Though he knew that it was very possible he would be shot, he always expected it to be in the head and end his life, but he didn’t think of anything like this. His shooter, Arthur Bremer (Arthur Bremer? I don't know), supposedly shot Wallace because he wanted to impress a girl. This is not a strategy I would recommend, but whatever. Of course, George Wallace did survive. He decided not to suspend his campaign and keep fighting for the nomination. However, the damage was done. George Wallace wasn’t going to be the nominee. Though he never officially suspended his campaign, and he even spoke at the DNC, he wasn’t actively campaigning very much. He finished third in the primaries, behind Humphrey and McGovern, who won the nomination. McGovern lost the election in the second biggest landslide in Modern United States Presidential History. Wallace easily won his 1974 re-election as governor. He wasn’t up against any real competition. [Cuckoo Clock] It’s now 1976, and George Wallace decided to take another stab at the presidency. Many critics of Wallace expressed serious concerns about his health, but supporters argued that FDR was a four-term president who also had no use of his legs. Either way, Wallace couldn’t ignore that he was handicapped. This crippled any chance he would have had. The final nail in the coffin was Jimmy Carter swooping in and taking all of the southerners with him. Jimmy Carter was a southern Democratic governor who was an outsider, so he appealed to a demographic upset with the establishment candidates that they had known forever, especially in wake of the Watergate scandal. Wallace was dead in the water, and only won 3 states: Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. He had lost his third democratic nomination attempt, and his 4th election. He didn’t run for Governor in 1978, ceding the election to Fob James. Around this time, he started to take back much of what he previously said about blacks. He picked up the phone and called many blacks that he feared he had caused torment to and personally apologized. He believed that the days of segregation were over, and he was wrong for ever thinking it was right. (Captions onscreen) He was troubled as a Christian to have done harm to so many innocent people, so he decided to seek forgiveness and repent. He had changed, or maybe just reverted to his pre-1962 self. No matter what, this change of attitude was remarkable. He ran for governor again in 1982 since Fob James didn’t seek another term. He faced much stiffer competition than he had in the past, but he still pulled out a narrow runoff victory in the primaries against George McMillan, the lieutenant governor. In the general election, he did face competition from his Republican challenger, Emory Folmar. Though some predicted a Folmar victory, Wallace’s improved race relations helped earn him the black vote, and this won him the election. He decided to appoint blacks to his cabinet, and really focus on receiving forgiveness for all of the wrong he had done. In 1986, Wallace publicly announced that he would not seek a fifth term as governor. He was retiring from politics. He had served 16 years as governor, or 18 years if you count Lurleen’s governorship. This isn’t a record, but it’s the third highest amount of time as governor in American history. When he announced he wouldn’t run again, the room was filled with tears. This was a figure that nobody wanted to lose. Wallace was loved by the constituents, more in his final years in office than ever before. In the weeks leading up to his death, Wallace was in constant pain. He spent most of his time in a restaurant not far from the Capitol Building of Alabama. He was visited often by everyone who had known him, basically saying their goodbyes. He died of septic shock, an infection that causes organ failure and low blood pressure, on September 13, 1998. He was 79 years old. George Wallace's political career was something not quite like any other. But it's characterized by racism, and he won't be remembered for any more. He was actually really influential, and his populism rubbed off on many presidents and political figures throughout the nation. He goes down in history as the most influential loser in American history. Perhaps he would be remembered for more if it wasn't for his racist viewpoints. Sadly, whatever it was, George Wallace is a figure crippled by his past.


Democratic primary

The South Carolina Democratic Party held their primary for governor on July 16, 1974 . Charles D. Ravenel emerged as the winner of the runoff election, but the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Ravenel did not meet the five-year residency requirement in the state's constitution.[1] W. J. Bryan Dorn was chosen in a special state convention to be the Democratic candidate in the general election for governor.

Democratic Primary
Candidate Votes %
Charles D. Ravenel 107,345 33.6
W.J. Bryan Dorn 105,743 33.1
Earle E. Morris, Jr. 80,292 25.2
Eugene N. Zeigler 11,091 3.5
L. Maurice Bessinger 7,883 2.5
John Bolt Culbertson 4,187 1.3
Milton J. Dukes 2,529 0.8
Democratic Primary Runoff
Candidate Votes % ±%
Charles D. Ravenel 186,985 54.8 +21.2
W.J. Bryan Dorn 154,187 45.2 +12.1

Republican primary

The South Carolina Republican Party held their primary on July 16, 1974 and the contest pitted state senator James B. Edwards against former Army Chief of Staff William Westmoreland. Edwards scored an upset victory in the first Republican primary of the state and earned the right to face Dorn in the general election.

Republican Primary
Candidate Votes %
James B. Edwards 20,177 57.7
William Westmoreland 14,777 42.3

General election

The general election was held on November 5, 1974 and James B. Edwards defeated W.J. Bryan Dorn in what was a banner year for the Democrats in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Turnout was higher than the previous gubernatorial election because of the increasingly competitive nature of the race between the two parties.

South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1974
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican James B. Edwards 266,338 50.3 +4.4
Democratic W.J. Bryan Dorn 248,861 47.0 -5.1
Independent Peggy Jennings 8,313 1.6 -0.4
No party Write-Ins 5,528 1.1 +1.1
Majority 17,477 3.3 -2.9
Turnout 529,040 53.0 -1.2
Republican gain from Democratic
1974 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.   65+% won by Edwards   60%-64% won by Edwards   55%-59% won by Edwards   50%-54% won by Edwards   <50% won by Edwards   50%-54% won by Dorn   55%-59% won by Dorn   60%-64% won by Dorn   65+% won by Dorn
1974 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.
  65+% won by Edwards
  60%-64% won by Edwards
  55%-59% won by Edwards
  50%-54% won by Edwards
  <50% won by Edwards
  50%-54% won by Dorn
  55%-59% won by Dorn
  60%-64% won by Dorn
  65+% won by Dorn

See also


  1. ^ Mordock, Will (23 June 2010). "The saga of Pug Ravenel still resonates in state politics". Charleston City Paper. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  • State Election Commission (1975). South Carolina Election Report 1974. Columbia, South Carolina: The Commission. p. 36. 
  • "How Counties Voted". The News and Courier. 7 November 1974. p. 17A. 

External links

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