-{This is the expanded version of the opening of a post that I wrote for Bobvis}-

There were three serious Democrats running in 1966. The first was progressive former governor Ellis Arnall. The second was a young state senator named Jimmy Carter. The third was Lester Maddox, a three-time loser in electoral politics that got a lot of publicity for closing down his restaurant rather than be forced to serve blacks. As was commonly the case, Republicans did not have a seriously contested primary. Uncommonly, though, they had a chance at winning the election in the form of Bo Calloway, the first Republican congressman since reconstruction.

The Republicans felt that Calloway had the best chance of beating the inarticulate radical Maddox than the Arnall or moderate Carter, so Republicans one and all decided to vote in the Democratic primaries to serve up the weakest Democrat to face off against what they hoped would be the first Republican governor since reconstruction. Carter was bumped off in the original election and though he won a plurality in the first round, Arnall was put out to pasture by Maddox with the help of the Calloway voters.

The Arnall voters, however, weren’t ready to call it quits. Maddox was an embarrassment and Calloway himself wasn’t good on the issue of segregation, so they hatched a plan of their own. They sponsored an Arnall write-in campaign. Though they knew that they couldn’t win with a write-in candidate, they reasoned that they didn’t have to. If they could prevent either Calloway or Maddox from getting a majority of the vote, the winner would be determined by a vote in the state legislature. Since the legislature was Democratic, they figured that they might be able to get enough Republicans and anti-Maddox Democrats together to pull off a victory.

Arnall ended up with 7.01% of the vote, managing to keep both Calloway (47.07%) and Maddox (46.88%) from getting a majority of the popular vote. By an overwhelming majority, the state legislature tapped Lester Maddox as the next governor of the state of Georgia. Governor Maddox surprisingly turned in a moderate record as governor as far as race issues in the south went, appointing record numbers of blacks into state office and integrating various state agencies, though never renouncing his staunchly segregationist views. He later ran for president under the banner of George Wallace’s American Independence Party.

Arnall never for public office again and Calloway left Georgia in the 1970’s. Jimmy Carter succeeded Maddox as the governor of Georgia, serving from 1971-1975, and went on to run for higher office.

Category: Statehouse

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