Long, Earl Kemp

Long, Earl Kemp, 1895–1960, American political figure, b. Winnfield, La.; brother of Huey Long. A lawyer, he was given a state office when his brother became governor. He ran for lieutenant governor in 1931 without Huey Long's support and lost. Later, the two were reconciled. In 1936, he was elected lieutenant governor and served (1939–40) as governor, after his predecessor resigned. Although defeated for reelection in 1940, he twice again served as governor of Louisiana (1948–52, 1956–60). From 1935 to 1960, he was a leader in the “Long machine” created by his brother, which dominated Louisiana politics after 1928. His last administration was marred by personal troubles, which at one point caused him to be committed to a mental hospital. Running unopposed as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960, he suffered a heart attack while campaigning, but refused medical attention until the polls had closed; died a few days later, in Baptist Hospital, Alexandria, Rapides Parish, La., September 5, 1960. Interment at Earl K. Long Memorial Park, Winnfield, La.

Earl K. Long, Governor of Louisiana from 1939 - 1940, 1948 - 1952 and 1956 - 1960, was one of the most colorful (famous, infamous, and outrageous) governors of Louisiana during the twentieth century. His notoriety is challenged only by the likes of his older brother, Huey P. Long, Jimmy Davis, and Edwin Edwards.

His behavior and rhetoric was at times so bizarre, that his wife, Blanche, eventually committed him to a mental institution during his second term. Confined to the state hospital in Mandeville, he demanded to be released, a demand that the hospital administrator refused. Earl then fired the administrator, and replaced him with someone who did release him. The courts later confirmed that insane or not, he had the authority.

After his release, he continued to garner attention from the press by wild shopping sprees, and trips to Bourbon Street. He made no secret of his relationship with Bourbon Street striptease performer Blaze Starr, which led to yet another scandal.

Listen to Earl K. Long as he speaks, rants, and raves. Earl K. Long Rantin' Ravin' & Singin' is an hour of historical speeches from the Louisiana Governor, his political friends, and recordings of Louisiana music.

Additional Material: Political Graveyard

Even by Louisiana standards, the 1952 Bayou State campaign for governor was really a mud-slinging and colorful one. Louisiana was again experiencing political conflict between reformers and Longites.

Governor Earl K. Long, unable to succeed himself, was supporting Judge Carlos G. Spaht of Baton Rouge, while ‘ol Earl's 33-years-old nephew, U.S. Senator Russell B. Long, was backing U.S. Representative Hale Boggs (who disappeared in a plane crash in Alaska in 1972). Lt. Gov. William "Big Bad Bill" Dodd broke off with Uncle Earl and entered the race as "the only true Longite candidate."

Judge Robert Kennon of Minden, who had made a strong showing running for the U.S. Senate against Russell Long in 1948, was the reform candidate promising to restore the state civil service and lower taxes. John M. McLemore, Alexandria cattleman and arch-segregationist entered the race as a states’ rights candidate.

There were three other candidates for governor in 1952. Lucille May Grace, the longtime registrar of state land office, became the first woman in Louisiana history to run for governor. A New Orleans pharmacist, Kermit A. Parker, became the first black to run for a statewide office in the 20th century when he became a candidate in 1952 for governor. Many black organizations offered their endorsements and support, but he refused to accept, preferring to run on his own merits.

Rounding out the field of eight candidates was 57-year-old flamboyant Dudley J. Leblanc, who had won national fame for his manufacture and promotion of a patent medicine, called "Hadacol" - better known for its alcohol content than its value as a medicine. A former political foe of Huey P. Long, Cousin Dud had first run for governor in 1932 against the Kingfish’s handpicked candidate, Oscar K. Allen. Although Allen defeated the outspoken Cajun, many believe the election was stolen from him.

In the 1952 election, LeBlanc ran on the amazing argument that anybody who could persuade people to buy and drink Hadacol could induce industry to come to La.

During the mud-slinging campaign Earl Long said there was nothing wrong with Kennon's hearing because he could be standing on the steps of the courthouse in Ville Platte and if someone would drop a dollar bill in Opelousas, he'd hear it. Old Earl once had this to say about our singing governor, Jimmie Davis: "He’s a liar and a thief, and he’s got diabetes!" (It must not been a bad case of diabetes because at 97 Jimmie is still singing.)

The two top candidates in the first primary were the two judges, Spaht and Kennon, and in the runoff, Judge Robert Kennon, getting the endorsements of most of the losers, was the victor. This was the last governor’s election where ballot boxes were used.

Earl's Swearing In - 1939
Governor Richard Leche was forced to resign due to scandals, and Earl Kemp Long was sworn in. Born in 1858 in rural Winn Parish in north Louisiana with his brother Huey, their populist agendas became known as Longism in Louisiana. He was one of Louisiana's most colorful politicians. Hollywood made a partly fictional movie about his life, called "Blaze", based on his notorious relationship with a Bourbon Street stripper. Earl K. Long died in 1960, just days after being elected to congress from the Eighth District.