Lynn Lowe

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Lynn Lowe
A. Lynn Lowe of AR.jpg
Lowe in undated photograph
Arkansas Republican Party State Chairman
In office
December 1974 – June 1980
Preceded by Jim R. Caldwell
Succeeded by

Jeraldine D. Pruden (interim)

Harlan "Bo" Holleman
Republican National Committeeman from Arkansas
In office
June 1980 – 1988
Preceded by John Paul Hammerschmidt
Succeeded by Robert "Bob" Leslie
Personal details
Born Aylmer Lynn Lowe
(1936-03-06)March 6, 1936
Texarkana, Miller County
Arkansas, USA
Died August 14, 2010(2010-08-14) (aged 74)
Garland, Miller County
Political party Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas, 1978
Spouse(s) Nedra Jean Bledsoe Lowe

Michael Lynn Lowe
Evelyn Ruth Lowe

Martha Elizabeth Lowe Robertson
Parents Luther and Ruth McKinley Lowe
Residence Garland, Arkansas
Alma mater

Garland City (Arkansas) High School
Southern Arkansas University

University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Occupation Farmer; Businessman
Religion Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
For more than a quarter century, Lowe was a pioneer in the attempt to establish a two-party system in the historically Democratic state of Arkansas. Since his death, the state moved primarily into the Republican column.

Aylmer Lynn Lowe, known as A. Lynn Lowe (March 6, 1936 – August 14, 2010),[1][2] was a farmer and politician from Garland near Texarkana in Miller County in southwestern Arkansas, who was a major figure in the Arkansas Republican Party. He was the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1978 against the Democrat Bill Clinton, served as state party chairman from 1974 to 1980, and was the GOP candidate in Arkansas's 4th congressional district in 1966, having been defeated by the Democrat David Pryor, then a state representative and a future governor and U.S. Senator, originally from Camden in Ouachita County in south Arkansas.

Personal life[edit]

Lowe was born in Texarkana to Jesse Luther Lowe, Sr. (1890–1967), and the former Ruth McKinley (1894–1987), originally from Waldo in Nevada County in southern Arkansas. He graduated from Garland High School and attended Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia for two years before he received in 1959 his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He farmed his entire life near the Red River and for a time also raised cattle. Lowe was married to the former Nedra Jean Bledsoe, originally from Boyce in northern Rapides Parish north of Alexandria in central Louisiana. The Bledsoes relocated to Miller County, where Jena's father operated a cotton gin. Lynn and Jean Lowe have a son, Michael Lynn Lowe (born 1959), also a farmer, and wife, Diana; two daughters, Ruth Evelyn Lowe of Garland City and Martha Lowe Robertson and husband, Chris, of Little Rock, and three grandchildren. Also Lynn Lowe truly loved his grandchild Warren Patrick Robertson. Warren loved his Papa as well. Lynn Lowe had a surviving brother Robert McKinley Lowe of Weems, Virginia, and two sisters Jean Davis of Mesa, Arizona, and Dot Fisher of Ames, Iowa. He was predeceased by a brother, Jesse Luther Lowe, Jr. Lowe was long active in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in Texarkana, Texas.[3][4]

Congressional race[edit]

A lifelong Republican, Lowe served from 1962-1964 as the Republican chairman for Arkansas's 4th congressional district. In 1962, he worked in the campaign of the Little Rock physician Kenneth Jones, who unsuccessfully challenged the reelection of U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright. Lowe was also the Arkansas Republican state treasurer from 1964-1966.[4] In 1966, he ran for the U.S. House seat when the incumbent Oren Harris of El Dorado resigned in February to accept appointment from U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and confirmation by the U.S. Senate as judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, based in Fort Smith. A special election was held simultaneously with the regular 1966 general election to fill the few weeks left in Harris' unexpired term. The seat was vacant from February to November 1966.[5]

Pryor first won a hard-fought Democratic primary against the Texarkana attorney Richard S. Arnold, then a son-in-law of the media owner Walter E. Hussman, Sr. In the general election, Pryor carried all twenty counties, including Lowe's Miller County, which gave the Republican only 46.8 percent though it had supported Republican gubernatorial nominee Winthrop Rockefeller against the Conservative Democrat James D. Johnson. Pryor received 86,887 votes (65 percent) to Lowe's 46,804 (35 percent).[6] Lowe ran as a conservative and refused to deny or confirm reports that he had formerly belonged to the John Birch Society. Lowe had told voters that they could repudiate President Johnson in 1966, when Johnson's name was not on the ballot, by supporting the Republican congressional campaign. He urged "local determination of local problems", and Pryor stressed his record as one of the reformers known as the "Young Turks" from the Arkansas House of Representatives.[7]

Gubernatorial bid[edit]

In 1978, Lowe, midway in his tenure as state party chairman, ran unopposed for the party's gubernatorial nomination. No other prominent figure stepped forward for the task of challenging Bill Clinton, who had been unopposed in the general election of 1976 for the office of state attorney general. Many seemed to have thought that Clinton had won the office merely by winning the Democratic nomination. Clinton supported the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was never ratified by the Arkansas legislature. He declared the matter a "dead issue" in Arkansas though ratification was still being sought on the national level by the administration of President Jimmy Carter.[8]

Lowe found few issues on which to challenge Clinton until the Democrat announced his opposition to a referendum to remove the state sales tax on groceries and prescription drugs. Clinton determined that the state could not afford to lose the $60 million then procured from the sales tax. Lowe noted a $40 million state surplus and urged repeal of the taxes.[9] Not only did Clinton defeat Lowe, but the removal of the sales taxes failed, 55-45 percent.[10]

With his election a foregone conclusion, Clinton called the campaign against Lowe "uneventful except for the press conference on the steps of the Capitol in which his campaign accused me of being a draft dodger."[11] Lowe's charge would be raised again nearly fourteen years later in the 1992 presidential primary campaign. The Arkadelphia Southern Standard newspaper in Arkadelphia claimed that Clinton could hardly lose "unless he stumbles badly or is caught molesting a nun in the process of robbing the church widows’ and orphans’ funds."[12]U.S. News and World Report said that no state in the U.S. South in 1978 was "tougher to crack for the Republicans than Arkansas, and it's going to stay that way."[13] Clinton hence became at thirty-two the youngest person elected governor in the United States since Harold E. Stassen won in Minnesota in 1938 at the age of thirty-one. He was termed "a living monument to the god 'Charisma'"[13]

Lowe received 195,550 votes (36.6 percent) and won six counties: Sebastian (Fort Smith, with 62.5 percent), Crawford (near Fort Smith with 55 percent), Boone (Harrison, with 54.9 percent), Polk (54.4 percent), Van Buren (54.1 percent), and his own Miller (53.6 percent). He won 49.8 percent in Franklin, also near Fort Smith and the home base of then U.S. Senator Dale L. Bumpers. Clinton prevailed with 338,684 votees (63.4 percent) and won the remaining sixty-nine counties. It was the best showing by a GOP nominee for governor since Winthrop Rockefeller's 1970 defeat. While Lowe lost to Clinton, Lowe's former congressional rival, outgoing Governor David Pryor, won all seventy-five counties in the U.S. Senate race over the Little Rock Moderate Republican William Thomas "Tom" Kelly, Jr. (1942-2011).[14]

U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt, the first Arkansas Republican congressman since Reconstruction, was instrumental in helping his friend Lowe to win in Boone County. Hammerschmidt had also been party chairman for a time before and again after his congressional service.[9] He also preceded Lowe as the party's national committeeman. Lowe was a Hammerschmidt donor from 1982 to 1988. He also contributed $1,000 to the Arkansas party organization after he left as chairman.[15]

Party leader[edit]

Lowe was elected state party chairman in December 1974, when State Senator Jim R. Caldwell stepped down from the unpaid position, to which he had been elected in March 1973.[16] Lowe defeated three candidates, Dr. Robert Luther of Arkadelphia, who later served as the party executive director; Marshall Martin of Benton, the Saline County party chairman and a former aide to Governor Rockefeller, and Bob Scott of Little Rock, a moderate and former Rockefeller associate.[17] Though considered a conservative, Lowe was friendly with Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, Winthrop Rockefeller's older brother who had been nominated to fill the second slot by President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., upon Ford's accession to the presidency after the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. Lowe said that Nelson Rockefeller was popular among Arkansas Republicans because of "the feelings for his brother." Yet, Lowe said that a more conservative running mate might be needed for Ford in 1976, having foreshadowed the replacement of Nelson Rockefeller on the GOP ticket by Robert J. Dole of Kansas.[18]

Lowe described Winthrop Rockefeller as "a very unusual guy with the best interest of Arkansas and its people at heart. If he made a mistake, it was not because he wanted to do so."[4] Lowe said that his early years as chairman came at a time when the Arkansas GOP was "about as flat on our back as a party could be. By 1980, we had come from one state legislator to a governor, Frank D. White, and two members of the U.S. House", John Paul Hammerschmidt and Edwin R. Bethune.[4]

Lowe served three two-year terms as chairman, having been succeeded in June 1980 by the vice chairman who became the interim chairman, Jeraldine D. "Jeri" Pruden,[19] of Hope, the seat of Hempstead County in south Arkansas and the birthplace of Bill Clinton. In December 1980, Harlan Holleman was elected and served as chairman until his death in March 1982. Like Lowe, Holleman was also a former candidate for the U.S. Congress.[20]

On August 10, 1975, Lowe and then State Representative Carolyn Pollan of Fort Smith hosted U.S. President Ford, who attended a reception of some thirty Arkansas Republican leaders held at the Sheraton Inn in Fort Smith. Earlier in the day, Ford had toured Fort Chaffee, accompanied by Senator John L. McClellan and other Democratic members of the Arkansas congressional delegation. Ford's stops included the Vietnam Refugee Resettlement Center there.[21]

Lowe was sergeant at arms at the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit. The Arkansas delegation included Ada Mills of Clarksville, who had received national attention for having been the only delegate in the country initially committed to former Governor John B. Connally, Jr., for the presidential nomination that year. As state party chairman, Lowe had been technically neutral at the convention, but Lowe and the entire Arkansas delegation routinely voted to nominate Ronald W. Reagan, who would then tap George Herbert Walker Bush of Texas as his vice-presidential choice.[22]

After his three terms as party chairman, Lowe served from 1980-1988 as the Arkansas Republican national committeeman. When Bill Clinton returned in 1982 for a second nonconsecutive two-year term as governor, his former rival Lowe told the GOP executive committee, meeting in Little Rock, that he had observed "the exchange of paper money" at a polling precinct in Texarkana eleven days earlier. Lowe said that he feared the "ugly monster" of corrupt election practices was returning to Arkansas and would "play havoc" with future Republican opportunities. He declined to answer reporters' questions about instances of specific fraud in state politics.[23]

In 2000, Lowe was a donor to Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, successful in a close electoral vote over Clinton's vice president, Al Gore, Jr.[24]

Lowe was the board chairman of the Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative Commission in Texarkana.[25] He was a participant in the federal farm program, having received $108,057 in subsidies in 2002.[26] From 1995-2006, Lowe received $464,806 in subsidies.[27]

Lowe died at the age of seventy-four at his home in Garland, Arkansas. A memorial service was held on August 21, 2010, at the First Lutheran Church of Texarkana, Texas, with the Reverend Berry Kolb officiating. Lowe was interred on his farm.[3]

Lowe's death come one month after the passing of Leon Griffith, the 1976 GOP gubernatorial nominee, who was overwhelmed in that heavily Democratic year by Governor David H. Pryor, who had defeated Lowe for Congress in 1966.


  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Our Campaigns: Lowe, Lynn". Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "In Memory of A. Lynn Lowe". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Statement of A. Lynn Lowe, Texarkana, Arkansas, December 28, 2009
  5. ^ Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 22, 1966, p. 1492
  6. ^ State of Arkansas, Secretary of State, Election returns, November 8, 1966
  7. ^ Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, October 7, 1966, p. 2353
  8. ^ Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, May 20, 1978, p. 1233
  9. ^ a b Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, October 14, 1978, p. 2804
  10. ^ State of Arkansas, Secretary of State, Election returns, November 7, 1978
  11. ^ Bill Clinton. My Life. Google Books. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-4000-3003-3. Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  12. ^ Quoted from Arkadelphia Southern Standard in Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, October 14, 1978, p. 2804
  13. ^ a b U.S. News and World Report, October 16, 1978, p. 32
  14. ^ Arkansas election returns, 1978
  15. ^ "A. Lynn Lowe from Zip Code 75502". Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  16. ^ Arkansas Outlook, May 1973
  17. ^ Arkansas Outlook, December 1974; Arkansas Gazette (now Arkansas Democrat-Gazette), December 8, 1974
  18. ^ Arkansas Outlook, October 1975
  19. ^ "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  20. ^ Arkansas Outlook, Republican Party newsletter, December 1976, reports that Lowe was elected to a second two-year term as chairman at that time.
  21. ^ "The Daily Dairy of President Gerald R. Ford, August 10, 1975" (PDF). Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  22. ^ Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 12, 1980, p. 1928
  23. ^ Arkansas Gazette, November 14, 1982
  24. ^ "Texarkana, Arkansas Political Contributions by Individuals". Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  25. ^ "Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative Commission" (PDF). Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Miller County, Arkansas Farm Subsidies". Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  27. ^ "Farm Subsidy Database". Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
Party political offices
Preceded by
Leon Louis Griffith
Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas

Aylmer Lynn Lowe

Succeeded by
Frank D. White
Preceded by
Jim R. Caldwell
Arkansas Republican Party State Chairman

Aylmer Lynn Lowe

Succeeded by
Harlan "Bo" Holleman
Preceded by
John Paul Hammerschmidt
Arkansas Republican Party National Committeeman

Aylmer Lynn Lowe

Succeeded by
Robert "Bob" Leslie