James L. Bentley

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James Lynwood Bentley, Jr.
Comptroller General of Georgia
In office
Personal details
Born (1927-06-15)June 15, 1927
Upson County, Georgia, USA
Died November 7, 2003(2003-11-07) (aged 76)
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1968)
Spouse(s) Gwen Bentley

Betty Bentley Watson
Samuel Jackson Bentley

James Lynwood Bentley, III

James Lynwood Bentley, Jr. (June 15, 1927 in Upson County, Georgia – November 7, 2003), was from 1961 to 1971 the comptroller general of Georgia. Originally a Democrat, Bentley and four other constitutional officers in Georgia switched to the Republican Party in 1968 to protest the violence that shook the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois that year. Thereafter, Bentley unsuccessfully sought the 1970 Republican gubernatorial nomination. He was defeated by more liberal candidate, Hal Suit, an Atlanta news broadcaster who opposed capital punishment. Suit polled 62,868 primary votes (58.5 percent) to Bentley's 40,251 (37.4 percent).

In the primary race, Bentley carried the backing of the 1966 Republican gubernatorial standard-bearer and the state's Republican national committeeman, Howard Callaway, even though Bentley had earlier voted for Callaway's Democratic opponent, Lester Maddox, who was ultimately elected as governor by the state legislature. Bentley said that he was shunned by the GOP regulars who "seemed somewhat indignant because we had not consulted the Republican leadership before we joined." Bentley blamed his primary loss on "stand-pat" Republicans practicing "kamikaze" politics.[1]

Suit subsequently lost the general election to Democrat Jimmy Carter, 41-59 percent.

Bentley was survived by his wife, Gwen Bentley, his daughter, Betty Bentley Watson, and two sons, Samuel Jackson Bentley and James Lynwood Bentley.


  1. ^ Billy Hathorn, "The Frustration of Opportunity: Georgia Republicans and the Election of 1966", Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South, XXXI (Winter 1987-1988), p. 48

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