James M. McLemore
|James M. McLemore|
|Residence||Alexandria, Rapides Parish
|Occupation||Gubernatorial candidate, 1952 and 1956|
James M. McLemore (date of birth and death and most personal information missing) was a landowner, cattleman, and auction barn owner from Alexandria who ran unsuccessfully in 1952 and 1956 for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Louisiana. In the second election, he became the first candidate for governor to base his campaign almost entirely on the preservation of racial segregation in the aftermath of the May 17, 1954 United States Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. The victors in the two elections were Robert F. Kennon and Earl Kemp Long, respectively.
In the 1952 gubernatorial race, McLemore ran a largely national campaign, with his attention focused upon U.S. President Harry Truman, whose Fair Deal policies the businessman strongly opposed. Truman had lost Louisiana's electoral votes in 1948 to Strom Thurmond, then the governor of South Carolina, who ran on the States' Rights Party ticket but was the official Democratic nominee in Louisiana. McLemore in 1952 carried the endorsement of Leander Perez, the political boss of Plaquemines Parish and former Thurmond supporter, who at first had toyed with the candidacy of Lucille May Grace, the register of state lands. Regardless, Perez wanted to defeat candidates supporting both Truman and Earl Long, who was at the time term-limited in the governor's office and was hence supporting Carlos Spaht, a state court judge in Baton Rouge, rather than his lieutenant governor, Bill Dodd.
The since defunct New Orleans States Press endorsed McLemore. The publication declared that McLemore "tells the same story in every parish" [and did not gear his message for a specific audience, locality, or region]. ... He hasn't got any political machine behind him. All the big ones are pledged to other candidates. What McLemore has behind him is the independent people who like a candidate who faces up to the issues."McLemore received the support of his home-town newspaper, the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, which criticized the record of outgoing Governor Earl Long. Long referred to McLemore as "a blabbermouth".
At first McLemore carried the backing of the weekly newspaper, The Franklin Sun in Winnsboro in Franklin Parish in North Louisiana, but prior to the primary, that publication switched to another candidate, U.S. Representative Hale Boggs of Louisiana's 2nd congressional district, who finished third in the primary. The Franklin Sun hailed Boggs for his experience and declared him "morally and politically clean."The Bastrop Clarion in Bastrop in Morehouse Parish stood with McLemore and questioned why The Franklin Sun had endorsed a candidate that it considered only "second best".
The New Orleans Times-Picayune did not support its hometown Representative Boggs in that race but instead endorsed McLemore:
A successful businessman whose word is respected, [McLemore] has the kind of experience good government needs. ... Louisiana needs a sound, efficient, and honest business administration to cut out the political deadheads and spoilsmen, restore a healthy balance in its fiscal affairs, and give its people a just, fair, and equitable return for their tax moneys. ... Throw off factional collar and strike down political bossdom ...
Running with McLemore in 1952 for statewide offices were G. M. "Jimmie" Bodenheimer of Shreveport for attorney general, a position won by Fred S. LeBlanc, and Lionel G. Ott (1894-1987) of New Orleans for lieutenant governor, an office won instead by C. E. "Cap" Barham of Ruston. McLemore also endorsed Robert Kennon's choice for auditor Allison Kolb of Baton Rouge.
McLemore held a political rally, called a "Citizens Revolt" at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, the home of the Louisiana Hayride, in which he denounced the "professional politicians". He assured the nearly 1,500 in attendance that he was no politician at all but a lifelolng businessman.
McLemore finished in fourth place in 1952 with 116,405 votes (15.3 percent). In that race on primary election night, McLemore endorsed Kennon, a judge in Minden, who went into a runoff election against the Long-backed candidate, Judge Spaht.
After the governor's race, McLemore was a Louisiana delegate to the 1952 Democratic National Convention, which met in Chicago to nominate Adlai E. Stevenson, II, and John Sparkman to carry the party banner against the Republican ticket of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. Stevenson won the Louisiana electoral vote in 1952 but not in 1956 when he was again the Democrat standard-bearer against Eisenhower.
When he ran governor once again in 1956, McLemore finished fifth with 48,188 votes (5.9 percent) in the contest dominated by Earl Long, who carried sixty-two of the state's sixty-four parishes in Long's last return to the governor's office. In that race, Leander Perez and outgoing Governor Robert Kennon supported not McLemore but the fourth-placed candidate, Fred Preaus of Farmerville in Union Parish, a former highway director in the Kennon administration. In invoking the racial issue, McLemore accused Long of having "encouraged" the registration of African-American voters who were likely to support Long-backed candidates in the Democratic primaries.
Similarly, McLemore claimed that Kennon, whom he had supported in the 1952 runoff election against Spaht, had done too little in office as governor to defend segregation but was on that issue "like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand."McLemore said that he would if elected call a conference of other southern governors to develop a regional strategy to defend segregation.As the campaign wound down, McLemore said that desegregation would lead to miscegenation, and he further claimed that the NAACP had been infiltrated by communists.
- Glen Jeansonne, Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977, 1995, 2006, pp. 151-152, 161. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
- "Directors of the American Brahman Breeders Association". texashistory.unt.edu. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- New Orleans States Press, December 14, 1951, p. 5
- Minden Press, January 11, 1952, p. 13
- Minden Press, November 23, 1951
- Minden Herald, December 28, 1951, p. 6
- New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial, reprinted in Minden Herald, December 21, 1951
- Minden Herald, January 4, 1952, p. 1
- "Professional Politicians McLemore Rally Target", Shreveport Times, November 15, 1951, p. 3
- Milburn Calhoun, Louisiana Almanac, 2008-2009. Pelican. 2009. p. 511. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
- "McLemore for Kennon", Minden Press, January 19, 1952, p. 9
- "Index to Politicians: Mclear to Mclennon". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- "McLemore outlines plan on segregation", Minden Herald, December 22, 1955
- Minden Herald, January 12, 1956, p. 2