Political Tendencies in Louisiana

By Perry H. Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII The Rise of "Longism"

I. The Progressivism of John M. Parker and Why It Failed

Huey P. Long probably owed part of his success to the failure of John M. Parker to firmly establish his political position against the Bourbons. While by no means a typical "man of the people," Parker had a somewhat progressive program that was different from those of other state politicians up to 1920. The present section will highlight the political program of Governor Parker and attempt to estimate how it fared.

There is a parallel between Parker's campaigns for governor in 1916 and 1920 and Robert Kennon's in 1948 and 1952. Both men lost on their first tries, but in losing discovered specific lessons which helped assure victory in the second attempts. One of these lessons was the necessity of having strong organizations in both New Orleans and the rural areas.

The years 1920 and 1952 were similarly notable for reform campaigns-both candidates were "anti"; anti-Ring in Parker's case and anti-Long in Kennon's. Because the rural vote was close, both men were able to win through sizable victories in New Orleans.

In 1920, John M. Parker was recognized by the Old Regulars as the man to beat, and the campaign between Colonel Frank P. Stubbs and Parker was a bitter one. After twenty years of successful political battles, the Ring had many enemies and was accused of corruption; it was a natural target for a reform candidate. Mayor Martin Behrman, the leader of the Ring, philosophized that "most people remember what you did to them rather than what you did for them."1 The

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1
George M. Reynolds, Machine Politics in New Orleans, 1897-1926( New York, 1936), 216.

-211-

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