Public Men in and out of Office

By J. T. Salter | Go to book overview

25
ROBERT S. KERR "Realist in Politics"

BY OTIS SULLIVANT

A PEACEFUL, BUSINESS-LIKE ADMINISTRATION OF STATE government came to Oklahoma under Governor Robert S. Kerr, a big, genial man, who carried his philosophy of life into the executive office. It took Oklahomans some time to become accustomed to the conservative, oilman governor whose attitude was exactly opposite to that of two of his pugnacious predecessors in a state in which politics is taken seriously and the governor must be ever on the alert to avoid political pitfalls which bring discredit upon an administration. Kerr is a study in sharp contrast to such governors as Leon C. (Red) Phillips and William H. (Alfalfa Bill) Murray who were quick to fire withering criticism at all persons who crossed their paths and use the power of political patronage and favors to force members of the legislature to follow their wishes. Without use of the political club, Kerr won support for his program in quiet, congenial conferences at a time when economic prosperity reduced both the power of patronage and the influence of a state administration over the legislature.

Bob Kerr fits into the American tradition. He was born in a log cabin, the first native Oklahoman to reach the governor's office. His father, Sam Kerr, an Oklahoma pioneer, never doubted Bob would be governor of the new state. He instilled the ambition in the boy and told him repeatedly he could reach any goal in life if he worked hard enough. Sam Kerr was farmer, rancher, rural school teacher, merchant, and cotton buyer. He served the first term as county clerk of Pontotoc County after Oklahoma's admission to statehood in 1907. He

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