Political Tendencies in Louisiana

By Perry H. Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII The Long Era, 1928-1956 Bifactional Politics?

1. How Huey P. Long Broke the Bourbon Rule

The impact of Huey P. Long and his successors upon the electorate was such that a distinct political tendency was structured. The Long era began with Huey's bid for the governorship in 1928 and lasted thirty-two years, or through his brother Earl's second full term as governor which began in 1956. But it did not end there altogether; the pattern of Long support still held through the gubernatorial primaries of 1963-64. The distinctiveness of the Long tendency led political observers to declare that in Louisiana a cohesive bifactionalism had been established in this deepest South one-party state.1 This section will trace the Long tendency in terms of its electoral composition and consider the question of bifactionalism.

The question is whether Longism caused Louisiana to become bifactional— Long versus anti-Long. Was politics already bifactional or did the Long surge so open Louisiana society that a mass politics ensued in which a succession of Long candidates took on the field? The initial surge had lasted through three elections (Table 7-2), followed by the election of two anti-Long administrations. "Uncle" Earl, unable to succeed himself because of constitutional prohibition, which he vainly tried to overcome, began an alternation with anti- Longs in the primary election of 1948. Even though the national concern over civil rights had brought the race issue back into Louisiana politics by 1960, the gubernatorial winner in 1964 was John J. McKeithen. With the backing of a significant portion of traditional Long supporters, including the late "Uncle" Earl's wife Blanche, McKeithen could be called at least "half a Long."

____________________
1
V. O. Key, Jr., Southern Politics ( New York, 1949); Allan P. Sindler, Huey Long's Louisiana:State Politics, 1920-1952 ( Baltimore, 1956).

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