Earl Kemp Long
1939-40 1948-52 1956-60
Born: August 26, 1895 near Winnfield, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Religious Affiliation: Baptist
Education: Attended Loyola University
Career Prior to Term: Lieutenant Governor
How He Became Governor: Succeeded Leche in 1939; elected in 1948 and 1956.
Career after Term: Cattleman/farmer; died days after being elected to U.S. Congress.
Died: September 5, 1960
Earl Long, Huey's younger brother, entered politics as one of his campaign workers. He never ventured beyond Huey's shadow, even during a period of conflict with him, until after his brother's assassination in 1935.
Earl first became Governor the first time after Richard Leche resigned for "health reasons" soon before he was convicted of Federal mail fraud. Long's first term was hampered by the "Louisiana Scandals" which contributed to his defeat by Sam Jones in the 1940 election. During his two terms of 1948 to 52 and 1956 to 60, Long followed his legacy. He advocated a free lunch program for schoolchildren, pushed for a vocational school system, made the salaries of black and white school teachers equal and fought for highway construction and old-age assistance.
Earl Long also used his power, as his brother had, to punish enemies. He attempted to curb the power of New Orleans Mayor Chep Morrison and abolished the state Civil Service System to increase patronage from the Governors office. His last term coincided with the efforts of the Citizens' Councils and the Louisiana Joint-Legislative Committee on Segregation to oppose racial integration. Both groups, led by State Senator Willie Rainach, sought to protect segregation in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court declared "separate but equal" schools unconstitutional.
Part of Rainach's strategy was to purge the rolls of black voters, a large segment of Long's political machine. Long's sometimes incoherent speech on the floor of the legislature, which led his family to attempt to institutionalize him, was an attack on Rainach's methods and an unsuccessful attempt to protect the voting rights of blacks.
Long, unable to succeed himself as Governor, ran for Lieutenant Governor on a ticket with James A. Noe. The Noe-Long ticket came in fourth in an election notable for its race baiting--a strategy unused in Louisiana for 60 years. Long later won a Congressional election in 1960 but died in Alexandria a week after his victory.