|56th Governor of Mississippi|
January 20, 1976 – January 22, 1980
|Preceded by||Bill Waller|
|Succeeded by||William Winter|
|Born||Charles Clifton Finch
April 4, 1927
Pope, Panola County
|Died||April 22, 1986
Batesville, Panola County
|Resting place||Magnolia Cemetery in Batesville, Mississippi|
|Spouse(s)||Zelma Lois Smith Finch (1926-2007)|
|Alma mater||University of Mississippi
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Battles/wars||Italian Campaign of World War II|
Life and career
Finch was born in the village of Pope in Panola County, northern Mississippi, the son of Ruth Christine (McMinn) and Carl Bedford Finch. At age 18, he enlisted in World War II and was sent into the Italian Campaign as part of the 88th Infantry Division. After the war, Finch worked in construction on the Pacific island of Guam. He then attended the University of Mississippi at Oxford. In 1958, he graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law.
Finch entered politics in 1960 and was elected as a Democrat to the Mississippi House of Representatives. In 1964 and again in 1968, he was elected district attorney for the Seventeenth Judicial District. In 1971, he was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor.
In 1975, Finch forged a coalition of African American and working class white voters in a populist-style gubernatorial campaign. To show his concern for working people, he sacked groceries, drove bulldozers, and performed other menial jobs. Finch adopted the campaign slogan "The working man's friend," with those letters featured on a black lunch box in drawings and placards. This campaign tactic proved popular as Finch was elected over Republican nominee Gil Carmichael, then an automobile dealer from Meridian, and the African American Independent candidate Henry Kirksey. Carmichael did, however, draw 45 percent of the vote, an exceptionally high figure for a statewide Republican candidate at that time.
As governor, Finch helped save Mississippi's savings and loan industry from collapse and provided flood relief in 1979.
While still governor, Finch ran for the United States Senate in 1978, but he was defeated in the Democratic party primary by Maurice Dantin, who then lost in the general election to the Republican U.S. Representative Thad Cochran.
After leaving office, Finch ran in 1980 against U.S. President Jimmy Carter. He received 48,032 votes (0.3 percent of the Democratic primary vote total) in nine primaries. After the campaign, Finch resumed practicing law.
|Governor of Mississippi