Cliff Finch

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Cliff Finch
Cliff Finch.jpg
57th Governor of Mississippi
In office
January 20, 1976 – January 22, 1980
Lieutenant Evelyn Gandy
Preceded by Bill Waller
Succeeded by William Winter
Member of the Mississippi House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Charles Clifton Finch
(1927-04-04)April 4, 1927
Pope, Panola County
Mississippi, USA
Died April 22, 1986(1986-04-22) (aged 59)
Batesville, Panola County
Resting place Magnolia Cemetery in Batesville, Mississippi
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Zelma Lois Smith Finch (1926-2007)
Alma mater

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi School of Law
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/wars Italian Campaign of World War II

Charles Clifton "Cliff" Finch (April 4, 1927 – April 22, 1986) was an American politician. He was the 57th Governor of the U.S. state of Mississippi, from 1976 to 1980.

Life and career[edit]

Finch was born in the village of Pope in Panola County, northern Mississippi, the son of Ruth Christine (McMinn) and Carl Bedford Finch.[1] 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 after the 1979 Easter flood.

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.

Finch died on April 22, 1986 in Batesville in Panola County, Mississippi, from a massive heart attack.[2]


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William Waller
Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
William Winter