Oregon gubernatorial election, 1922

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Oregon gubernatorial election, 1922

← 1918 November 4, 1922 1926 →

  Walter M. Pierce Oregon.jpg Ben W Olcott.jpg
Nominee Walter M. Pierce Ben W. Olcott
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 133,392 99,164
Percentage 57.4% 42.6%

Oregon gubernatorial election results 1922.svg
County results

Governor before election

Ben W. Olcott

Elected Governor

Walter M. Pierce

The 1922 Oregon gubernatorial election took place on November 4, 1922 to elect the governor of the U.S. state of Oregon. The election matched incumbent Republican Ben W. Olcott against Democrat Walter M. Pierce. With the support of the Ku Klux Klan, then a powerful political force in the state, Pierce won the election by a wide margin.

Background and campaign[edit]

In March 1919, Oregon governor James Withycombe died in office, just two months into his second term. As prescribed by Oregon law, Oregon Secretary of State Ben Olcott succeeded Withycombe in office. In 1922, Olcott announced that he would seek a full term in office.

In the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan had become a powerful political force in Oregon.[1] Olcott refused to endorse the Klan, and shortly before the Republican primary, issued an executive proclamation against the organization for terrorist acts conducted by its members which included mock hangings.[2] Olcott's actions nearly cost him the Republican nomination to the Klan-backed candidate, state senator Charles Hall.[3]

With their candidate's defeat, the Klan threw their support behind Democratic candidate Walter M. Pierce, who also agreed to back the Klan's Compulsory Education Act, which would require all students to attend public, rather than private schools, a deliberate attack on Roman Catholic private schools.[1][3] Both Pierce and the education initiative won wide, but short-lived victories in November: the education law was struck down by the United States Supreme Court in their 1925 Pierce v. Society of Sisters decision, and Pierce lost re-election in 1926.

Election results[edit]

Oregon gubernatorial election, 1922[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Walter M. Pierce 133,392 57.26%
Republican Ben W. Olcott 99,164 42.64%
Total votes 232,556 100.00%
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ a b Toy, Eckard. "Ku Klux Klan". The Oregon Encyclopedia. 
  2. ^ "Proclamation Against the Ku Klux Klan, 1922". Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Roaring with the 1920s". OregonLive.com. Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ "OR Governor Race - Nov 07, 1922". Our Campaigns. Retrieved July 18, 2011.