Connected successfully  The Okie Legacy: Vol 19, Iss 1 Sweet Silly Spunky Sadie

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                             Volume 19, Issue 1 -- 2017-01-14                     

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Sweet Silly Spunky Sadie


Remember when precinct meetings drew largest crowds in history for Democratic party in the 1960s, especially in Oklahoma? Why can't we do that again? What can we do to accomplish that? Was this about the same time the rural communities, precincts in Oklahoma was awaken to have their voices heard over the larger cities?

Found on Newspapers.com

It was in The Ada Weekly News, out of Ada, Oklahoma, dated 18 February 1960, Thursday, page 1, we found this 1960 headlines: "McGill Appears Leader Here As Precinct Meetings Draw Largest Crowds in History."

In 1960, the zany world of Democratic politics burst upon the Pontotoc county scene on a Friday evening as precinct politics scurried to their respective voting places in record numbers to organize for the impending "family feud." I suppose they were talking about the democratic party feud between Gov. Howard Edmondson and the grassroots democratic party supporting Gene McGill.

That year the State's two "Big M's" were battling it out in fifty-six precincts in the county with the results surprising few observers. Pat Malloy, Gov. Edmondson's choice for state chairman, won a few battles int eh unpredictable city precincts, but Gene McGill, outspoken administration foe appeared to have won the war with an overwhelming majority of rural boxes.

This was by far, the largest precinct organization turnout in the county's recent political history the battle lines were drawn as predicted. McGill appeared to make unexpected inroads in the city while Malloy and his supporters came up with only a few surprises int he country.

The precinct meetings were merely to select precinct chairmen and other officers who would, in turn, meet February 20th to choose county officers.

What it boiled down to in Pontotoc county was an all-out struggle between foes and friends of the controversial young governor as separate slates of candidates for county offices were announced Friday morning. J. I. Jones of Allen and Mrs. Joe Robnett of Roff were on the McGill side of the fence and Monte Bell and Dorothy Higginbotham, both of Ada, were avowed candidates who favored Edmondson and Malloy.

There was no official listing of the instructed delegations from the precincts that was released by Martin Clark, county Democratic chairman, but a representative survey by the NEWS and others came up with the following tablulation: Malloy apparently carried 11 of the city's boxes with McGill running first in 9 and 2 others completely neutral in outward appearance. In the county, the count would read something like 18 for McGill, 5 for Malloy and 10 on the undecided list.

That gave McGill an overall lead of 27 to 17. Of course, the survey taken into account some boxes whose delegations would go to the central committee meeting uninstructed, but whose officers were known to favor one candidate or the other.

The bulk of the Malloy support in Ada came in wards one and two while McGill held his own in three and four.

In the county, McGill led all the "big" precincts such as Allen, Stonewall, Roff and Latta while Malloy managed to capture a few delegates in such places as Valley View, Country Club and other precincts.

Some, or several precinct decisions possibly missed in the survey, but these appeared to be the "sure" city boxes.

In ward one, precinct three, thirteen people attended and an unusual occurrence was marked. Jake Blevins, administration official, was selected as precinct chairman and also made a motion his precinct go on record as favoring the nomination of Lyndon B. Johnson for president.

One of the sore points of the campaign had been the claim that administration forces were cool to Johnson and were for Sen. John Kennedy of Massachusetts. In fact, this was mentioned in several precincts as the prime reason the voters did not want Malloy for state chairman.

Other precincts, such as the one which met at Ada High School, also instructed its delegates to express their preference for Johnson.

The effect of the anti-administration organization was evident from the results. The "sure" boxes, the ones in which the delegates were definitely instructed were almost all pro-McGill and pro-Jones, while the Malloy-Bell supporters were mostly uninstructed. It was in Ward one, precinct one, meeting at the courthouse, Dr. Sam A. McKeel was selected chairman and Esther Turner was chosen for co-chairman. The delegation was not instructed, but precinct committeeman W. G. Massey said the sentiment seemed to favor "Local government," indicating support for Jones and McGill would probably emerge. In ward one, precinct three, at Hayes School, the trend was in the other direction as Blevins was chosen chairman and his wife was tabbed co-chairman. About thirteen people attended and the favor was definitely pro-Malloy.

The first instructed delegation encountered in the survey came from the First Presbyterian Church box, ward one, precinct six. G. G. Folger was elected chairman and Mrs. Aubrey Kerr vice chairman. Seventeen attended the meeting and the delegation would go to the central committee meeting with two votes for Jones and McGill.

In ward one, precinct five, the administration apparently gained, but no instructions were given to the delegates. J. N. King was the chairman and Mrs. Tom Watson would serve as co-chairman. The issues of the state chairman's campaign didn't arise, but at least it was not anti-administration.

Ward two appeared more solidly behind Malloy and Bell.

In W2-P2, Les Younger was chosen chairman and his wife would serve as c0-chairman. The feeling here ran favorable to Malloy.

The first case of an instructed delegation for Malloy and Bell came in W@-P5 where Homer Belew was elected chairman and Lena Yagol vice-chairman. The delegation was instructed to support the Malloy slate at the central committee meeting.

L. D. Kite became chairman in W2-P4 and the reports had it that all nine present were unanimous in support of McGill and Jones.

Few reports came in from ward three, but it was believed McGill dominated the voting there, at least in the first two precincts.

At least one ward three ballot as hopelessly divided. That one was at Irving School (W3-P3) where T. J. Jared was named chairman and Dorothy Higginbotham vice chairman.

Miss Higginbotham was not he slate with Bell, supporting the candidacy of Malloy. A vote showed the seven Democrats present were split, so no instructions were given.

Ward four saw at least on instructed delegation elected. That one came at the Ada High School box where the delegates were told to support McGill and Jones. Lester Lanier was selected as chairman and Vernon Roberts' motion to support Jones was approved by and 8-4 vote. Sixteen attended the meeting and, apparently, the main issue at stake was the question of Johnson vs. Kennedy.

One voter, Harrell Allen, urged no instructions, but the "ayes" had it by four votes. The biggest turnout was on South High School, the voting place for W4-P5. There 45 people gathered and the feeling was definitely anti-administration.

C. S. Williams, veteran chairman of the precinct, said practically all present were for McGill although the delegation would be uninstructed.

Williams commented, "I had the dubious distinction of presiding over the liquidation of the Edmondson-Malloy forces. In addition, I had the honor of presiding over the largest precinct meeting ever held in Ada. I had thought the governor should have a friendly slate chairman, but my cause was sunk without a trace."

Williams' feeling were reflected in many other areas where the anti-administration forces made their presence felt overwhelmingly. The pro-Edmondson-Malloy-Bell voters were apparently somewhat more subdued in support of their favorites.

McGill swept the countryside. Delegations from Allen's two precincts headed by the candidate Jones and Guy Pegg were instructed to cast their votes for the McGill slate. Homer's delegations, J. C. Hands and Janie Phillips, were given similar instructions, as were the Fittstown delegates headed by chairman W. E. Snyder. Those representing Roff, Stonewall and Latta would also cast their lots with the anti-administration forces.

It was believed Saturday Malloy made some headway in the Union Valley, Center, Valley View, Country Club and Colbert boxes, but this could not be verified.

At the Country Club box, Dick Roberts became chairman, Dee Burdine was chosen as chairman at Center.

The turnout Friday night ranged from 45 in the ward four precinct to a single citizen at ward four, precinct one (city hall).

That night was a rousing night of political shuffling and one thing definitely emerged from all the hullaballoo ... there was more interest in the grassroots of the party that ever before with all precincts setting up organizations of the first time in the history of Pontotoc county.

1960 "Old Guard" Not Backing McGill
The Miami Daily News-Record, out of Miami, Oklahoma, dated 10 January 1960, Sunday, page 1, reported that Carl LaGere, 4th district Democratic chairman, labeled himself as a member of the "old guard" and said not all veteran Democrats were supporting state party chairman Gene McGill.

It seems LaGere of Chandler was miffed when McGill appointed J. I. Jones of Allen as Pontotoc county chairman without first consulting him. LaGere charged that McGill bypassed him because he was the only one of three district chairman who voted for Pat Malloy of Tulsa, Gov. J. Howard Edmondson's choice for the post then held by McGill.

LaGere didn't think McGill had the support of all the "old guard."

Good Night! Good Luck!
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