Ray Blanton, Part 5

Ray Blanton, Part 5

By Ray Hill Ray Blanton had achieved his long sought after goal of winning statewide office in Tennessee with his victory in the 1974 general election. Blanton had defeated Republican Lamar Alexander decisively in winning the governorship. Ray Blanton had always campaigned as a populist, putting together a coalition that encompassed traditional Democratic voting blocs. […]

Ray Blanton, Part 4

Ray Blanton, Part 4

Ray Blanton emerged from the 1974 primary as the Democratic nominee for governor of Tennessee. It had been a contentious primary in with twelve men competing for the nomination. Blanton had barely edged banker Jake Butcher to be the nominee. The Republicans had their own primary with Nat Winston, Dortch Oldham and Lamar Alexander running […]

Ray Blanton, Part Three

Ray Blanton, Part Three

By Ray Hill After having lost the 1972 race for the U. S. Senate to incumbent Howard Baker by a wide margin, Ray Blanton found himself out of Congress. Blanton returned to Tennessee and immediately began planting the seeds for an expected bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1974. Democrats were shocked by the […]

Ray Blanton, Part Two

Ray Blanton, Part Two

By Ray Hill Tennessee had lost a congressional district in the redistricting in 1971.  Congressmen Ray Blanton and William Anderson, both Democrats, would likely have run against one another if both sought reelection.  Anderson flirted with a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination while Blanton had his sights set on the Senate seat held by […]

Ray Blanton, Part One

Ray Blanton, Part One

By Ray Hill Ray Blanton is little remembered today save for one thing: the corruption of his administration. Compared to many of Tennessee’s more significant historical figures, Blanton’s political career was not long, but it was impossible not to notice the man who became governor. While Ray Blanton was considered by many to be a […]

Senator Howard Baker, Part Eleven

Senator Howard Baker, Part Eleven

By Ray Hill Senator Howard Baker entered the fall general election after having followed a strategy of organizing early and avoiding controversy. Baker’s opponent, Jane Eskind, had won the Democratic primary by self-funding and had tried to take advantage of the senator’s support for the Panama Canal Treaty. The treaty was not popular in many […]

Senator Howard Baker, Part Ten

Senator Howard Baker, Part Ten

By Ray Hill Senator Howard Baker had seen several election cycles diminish Republican gains in 1974 and 1976. Democrats were optimistic about continued success and Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Ned Ray McWherter was asked by President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale to run against the Minority Leader when Baker came […]

Senator Howard Baker, Part Nine

Senator Howard Baker, Part Nine

By Ray Hill For much of 1979, Howard Baker was preoccupied with the business of running for president.  Senator Baker arrived at the Lyons Township Republican annual steak fry and the temperature was still a broiling 90 degrees as the sun went down.  Worse still, the sound system failed and Howard Baker stood at the […]

Senator Howard Baker, Part Eight

Senator Howard Baker, Part Eight

By Ray Hill Fresh from his titanic reelection victory in 1972, Howard Baker returned to the United States Senate on the cusp of becoming a national figure. Richard Nixon had also won an historic reelection victory, but it quickly unraveled.  When the Senate appointed a bipartisan committee to investigate the Watergate break-in, Minority Leader Hugh […]

Senator Howard Baker, Part Seven

Senator Howard Baker, Part Seven

By Ray Hill There were those who believed Howard Baker’s election to the United States Senate was an aberration; some believed Tennessee would return to its Democratic roots in the next election cycle. Yet Richard Nixon carried the Volunteer State in the 1968 presidential election. The Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey, had run a poor third […]

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