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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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Crucible of Liberalism

Crucible of Liberalism

Frank Graham and the 1950 Senate Race

Chapter:
(p.139) 6 Crucible of Liberalism
Source:
The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott
Author(s):

Julian M. Pleasants

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813146775.003.0007

In 1950, the newly chosen US senator, Frank P. Graham, ran to be elected for a full term in the Senate. Although Graham had no experience in politics and refused to run a traditional campaign, his backers assumed he would win because of the enthusiastic support of the Scott administration and the farm, black, and labor vote. The conservatives in the state, fearful of Graham’s liberal tendencies, supported Willis Smith, a highly successful attorney. Smith, aided by big business, the power companies, and the banks, began to attack Graham for supporting socialized medicine and a compulsory fair employment practices commission. He accused Graham of Communist leanings because of his association with many subversive organizations. Smith made Scott an issue in the campaign for violating traditional neutrality in the party by supporting Graham. Graham was the “hand-picked” candidate of Scott and Truman—the “would-be dictators” of North Carolina. Scott and others fought back and defended Graham, but the contest changed when the Smith forces realized that they could not win on anti-Communist charges and shifted their emphasis to race. A series of racist ads helped change the momentum in the race. Although Graham won the first primary, he fell 5,634 votes from winning 50 percent of the vote.

Keywords:   Racist ads, Anticommunism, Frank P. Graham, Willis Smith, Socialized medicine, Fair Employment Practices Commission

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