Carlos Spaht

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Carlos Gustave Spaht, I
Judge of the 19th Judicial District Court of Louisiana
Personal details
Born (1906-08-02)August 2, 1906
Missouri, USA
Died April 29, 2001(2001-04-29) (aged 94)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Resting place Greenoaks Memorial Park in Baton Rouge
Political party Democratic
Children Carlos Spaht, II

Paul Spaht

Alma mater Louisiana State University
Occupation Attorney
Religion Presbyterian

Carlos Gustave Spaht, I (August 2, 1906 - April 29, 2001), was a Louisiana judge best remembered for having lost the Democratic gubernatorial runoff election in January 1952 to fellow Judge Robert F. Kennon of Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. Spaht's unsuccessful running mate for lieutenant governor was future Governor John J. McKeithen of Columbia, the seat of Caldwell Parish in north Louisiana. McKeithen lost to then State Senator C.E. "Cap" Barham of Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish, also in north Louisiana. At the time, McKeithen was an outgoing member of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Spaht was affiliated for years with the Baton Rouge law firm Kantrow, Spaht, Weaver & Blitzer.


Early years[edit]

Spaht was reared on a dairy farm. The family moved from Missouri to Louisiana in the middle 1920s. He attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and received his law degree in 1931. He graduated second in his class and was the student body president.[1]

He served in the United States Army during World War II, having eventually earned the rank of colonel. He went on active duty in the summer of 1941 and was sent to China to work with the 8th Chinese Army. He became involved in the battle to free the Burma Road. There he met Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tigers, who grew up near Ferriday, Louisiana. At the Battle of Mount Song, Spadt, Peter S. Hopkins, and John C. Young were instrumental in planning and designing the explosive charges that destroyed that enemy stronghold.

After his military service, Spaht was elected district attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish. He was later appointed a judge for the 19th Judicial District but resigned in order to run for governor in the 1951-1952 election cycle.[2]

Gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Spaht was urged to run for governor to succeed the then term-limited Earl Kemp Long. In the runoff election, anti-Long elements, including the third- and fourth-placed primary candidates, Hale Boggs and James M. McLemore coalesced behind Kennon. Even Bill Dodd, the outgoing lieutenant governor who fared poorly in the gubernatorial primary, endorsed Kennon, much to the chagrin of Earl Long, who was said to have hand-picked Spaht so that Long might still exert some influence in future government decisions. Dubbed "Earl's Boy",[3] Spaht was the Long candidate largely by default in what became a strongly anti-Long year. Opponents of the Long ticket opposed tax increases during Earl Long's tenure and feared such increased costs of government would continue under a Spaht administration.

In the first primary on January 15, 1952, nine candidates ran. Spaht led with 173,987 votes to Kennon's 163,434 votes. In the runoff, all seven other candidates, including U.S. Representative Hale Boggs of New Orleans, endorsed Kennon. With 48 percent turnout, Kennon defeated Spaht 482,302 (61.4 percent) to 302,653 (38.6 percent).[4]

In the April 22 general election, Kennon defeated the first Republican of the twentieth century ever to seek the state governorship, Harrison G. Bagwell of Baton Rouge, by a 96-4 percent margin.[5]


Supporting Nixon/Lodge ticket[edit]

In 1960, Judge Spaht refused to endorse the Kennedy/Johnson presidential ticket, which handily secured the ten electoral votes of Louisiana, having benefited from divided opposition. Instead, Spaht gave speeches for the Nixon/Lodge Republican team. In Minden, Kennon's hometown, Spaht spoke at the invitation of the local "Democrats-for-Nixon" committee. Earl Long had endorsed the Kennedy-Johnson slate but had died two months before the general election. Spaht declared that the Kennedy record was one of "extreme socialism in matters of health, education, and taxes." Spaht said the Kennedy position on offshore tidelands was contrary to the needs of Louisiana state government. He claimed that only Nixon could "stand up" to the Soviets. "The best way to determine what a man will do is to see what he already has done," said Spaht in endorsing Nixon.[6] Spaht's visit to Minden was arranged by the Democratic State Central Committee member and dairyman Roy D. "Don" Hinton (1912–2011),[7] who said that his opposition to the Kennedy/Johnson ticket grew after he attended a state party meeting in Baton Rouge, where more details of the Democratic national platform were unveiled.[8]


Civic accomplishments[edit]

Spaht was a proponent of the desegregation of the Louisiana State University Law School and later worked to end segregation elsewhere. He promoted the creation of predominantly African American Southern University campuses in Shreveport and New Orleans.

When McKeithen became governor, he named Spaht to the prestigious LSU Board of Supervisors. Spaht worked with McKeithen in 1964 in drafting a code of ethics for elected officials and state employees.

Memberships[edit]


Death and burial[edit]

Spaht died in Baton Rouge and is interred at Greenoaks Memorial Park in East Baton Rouge Parish. Spaht's son, Carlos G. Spaht, II (born 1942), is a mathematics professor at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.[10] Another son, Paul Spaht, practices law at his father's former Baton Rouge firm.

On April 2, 2008, Spaht, former State Senator J. D. DeBlieux, and former Register of the State Lands Ellen Bryan Moore, were honored posthumously by the annual Louisiana Governor's Prayer Breakfast.[11]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hinton, Spaht Rap Party Platform in Kickoff", Minden Press, October 3, 1960, p.1
  2. ^ Minden Press, September 26, 1960
  3. ^ Legacy to Power: Senator Russell Long of Louisiana by Robert T. Mann, Jr., p. 132
  4. ^ Numan V. Bartley and Hugh D. Graham, Southern Elections: County and Precinct Data, 1950-1972, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978, p. 121
  5. ^ State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, General election returns, April 22, 1952
  6. ^ "Hinton, Spaht Rap Party Platform in Kickoff of Democrats-For-Nixon", Minden Press October 3, 1960, p. 1
  7. ^ "R. Don Hinton". Shreveport Times, April 18, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ Minden Press, September 26, 1960
  9. ^ Minden Press, Minden, Louisiana, September 26, 1960, p.1, source for the last five memberships.
  10. ^ "Dr. Carlos G. Spaht, II". lsus.edu. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Louisiana Governor's Prayer Breakfast". lagpb.org. Retrieved September 7, 2009.