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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 Second Primary, 1948

The Second Primary, 1948

(p.55) 3 The Second Primary, 1948
The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott

Julian M. Pleasants

University Press of Kentucky

In the second primary, Scott replenished his finances and shored up his support from his main constituencies—labor, farmers, and blacks. His opponent, Charles Johnson, realized he had lost the momentum in the race and waged a more aggressive campaign—his “New Look” strategy. He attacked Scott and defended his record as treasurer, insisting that he was not a machine candidate. Scott continued his mantra that Johnson was the machine candidate and charged that the bankers of the state had accumulated a slush fund to buy the election for Johnson. Although Johnson predicted victory, Scott won handily, 217,620 votes to 182,684. Scott won because his core constituency turned out for him, the antimachine vote went to him, and he waged a more vigorous, effective, and aggressive fight. Johnson was overconfident, waged a listless race, and never got his message out. Kerr Scott had achieved one of the great political upsets in the state’s history, and his victory signaled a change from the conservative, staid machine politics of the past to a more progressive, populist leadership. Scott, the man of the people, now had the opportunity to make good on his promises.

Keywords:   State treasury surplus, Machine politics, Second primary, Grassroots appeal, End to machine politics

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