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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 Election of 1948

The Election of 1948

The First Primary

(p.17) 2 The Election of 1948
The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott

Julian M. Pleasants

University Press of Kentucky

Scott, a dairy farmer with limited statewide name recognition, achieved one of the biggest political upsets in the state’s history by defeating the anointed candidate of the Gardner machine. He defeated the financial and business elite who ran the state by appealing to the farmers and the poorer element. He campaigned vigorously around the state for his “Go Forward” program by promising new roads, better and more schools, improved health care and electric and phone service for the outlying areas, more industry, and environmental improvements. He said he wanted to represent those without a voice as “the people’s candidate for governor” and expand public service without raising taxes. He attacked the Gardner machine for hand-picking the candidates, criticized the state and Charles Johnson, the state treasurer, for not investing surplus state funds, lashed out at the power companies for high rates, and skewered the banks for serving big business, not the needs of the people. Through hard work and a brilliant campaign strategy, Scott came within nine thousand votes of his heavily favored opponent in the first primary. He immediately called for a second primary.

Keywords:   Gardner machine, “Go Forward” program, First primary, Populist attack on big business

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