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The Political Career of W. Kerr ScottThe Squire from Haw River$
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Julian M. Pleasants

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813146775

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813146775.001.0001

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The Third Primary, 1954

The Third Primary, 1954

Chapter:
(p.237) 9 The Third Primary, 1954
Source:
The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott
Author(s):

Julian M. Pleasants

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813146775.003.0010

Scott gladly found refuge on his farm from the vicissitudes of political warfare, but he had no intention of retiring from public life. Still angry at the racist attacks in the Smith-Graham contest, and upset with the conservative forces in the party that had tried to undermine his legislative program, he sought revenge in the 1954 race for the US Senate. After Senator Clyde Hoey died, Governor Umstead chose Alton Lennon as the new senator. Umstead and Lennon represented the same forces that had fought Scott and Graham in 1950. Thus, for Scott, this 1954 contest would be the “third primary,” and he hoped to avenge Graham’s defeat by ousting Lennon from office. Lennon had money and incumbency but was not well-known around the state. Scott, often undone by his candid remarks, refused to be drawn into arguments and ran on his record as governor. Future governor Terry Sanford managed his campaign and relied on the supporters who had elected Scott in 1948. Scott loved being back on the stump and campaigned vigorously. Lennon denounced Scott for his arrogant behaviour, which divided the people, and charged him with using highway funds to pave his own roads. The contest was conducted on a high plane until Lennon realized he would lose and, in a desperate move, descended into race baiting. The decision came shortly after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Lennon tried to make segregation the key issue by indicting Scott for appointing a black, Harold Trigg, to the state Board of Education. This time, the last-minute tactic backfired, and Scott won by a close, but comfortable, margin of 25,twenty-five thousand votes. Now Kerr Scott was a US senator and had avenged Graham’s loss in 1950.

Keywords:   Alton Lennon, Brown v. Board of Education, Third Primary, Terry Sanford, Segregation

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