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Kevin M. Kruse @KevinMKruse
, 13 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
The showdown over the Georgia governor's office reminds me of a moment in state history when there weren't just two people making claims to be the rightful holder of the office, but three.

It was creatively titled … "The Three Governors Controversy."…
It all began with Eugene Talmadge (bottom right), a former governor who led the reactionary faction in the state's Democratic Party.

In 1946, he waged a successful campaign to replace the man who had previously replaced *him* as governor, the progressive Ellis Arnall (top left).
Gene Talmadge was a virulent white supremacist, and one who had profited from the institutional racism in state politics.

But during WWII, significant changes had come that signaled the rise of black voting power for the first time.

I discussed it all here in White Flight:
Determined to get back into power, Talmadge and his allies in the state worked to keep black voters at bay, by any means necessary.

The racist panic they prompted led to the brutal murder of four African Americans that summer.
Gene Talmadge won the Democratic primary that year and, with it, effectively won the governor's office right then.

But it quickly became clear that he was sick, and after he was elected officially that fall, he died in an Atlanta cancer ward in December.
In the wake of the governor-elect's death, his supporters pushed through a plan that allowed their cronies in the Georgia General Assembly to elect Herman Talmadge, Gene's son, as the next governor instead.

They did just that in January 1947.
This was a bold move, to say the least, and in response the man who'd just been elected Lieutenant Governor, Melvin Thompson, insisted that *he* should rightfully be the next governor.

Meanwhile, Ellis Arnall refused to turn the governor's office over to Herman Talmadge either.
So, three governors.

That's why they called it the "Three Governors" controversy.

Got it? All right, let's keep moving.
On January 15, 1947, both Arnall and Talmadge showed up at the governor's office, each laying claim to the space.
That night, Talmadge changed the locks, and Arnall had to set up shop in an information kiosk in the lobby of the state capitol. (No, seriously.)

This newsreel captures the chaos pretty well:
Arnall soon gave up his claim on the office, and if you're keeping track, that dropped the number of governors down to two.

For two months, things in the state were chaos, with both Talmadge and Thompson acting as governor and making appointments to various positions.
The controversy finally ended in March 1947, with the state Supreme Court ruling that Thompson -- the lieutenant-governor-elect when Gene Talmadge died -- was the rightful replacement.

Herman Talmadge accepted the ruling and left the office.
But! That wasn't the end for him.

Herman Talmadge won the governor's race the next time around quite easily, and served there from 1948-1955. In 1956, he won election to the US Senate, where he stayed until 1981.

As political history often shows, losers often have longevity.
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