By Jack Hackley
1968 was my favorite election. Even though Nixon would defeat Humphrey and George Wallace, Democrat Warren Hearnes would win his second term as governor, and again name me as Honorary Colonel on his staff.
Bill Morris, whose campaign I helped run, would be the next lieutenant governor. The Missouri House and Senate would retain their strong Democrat majority. The only Republican to win a state-wide office was John Danforth, the new attorney general.
The most interesting race in the 1968 election was the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. The incumbent, Ed Long, had some personal problems and was considered vulnerable. Tom Eagleton gave up his lieutenant governor’s seat and challenged Senator Long. However, at the last minute a third candidate, multi-millionaire True Davis, filed with a sack full of his own money.
He took no contributions. True was President and CEO of Anchor Serum Company in St. Joseph, the largest pharmaceutical company for veterinarian medicine in the U.S. Kennedy had appointed him Ambassador to Switzerland. President Johnson appointed him assistant secretary of the treasury.
The factions still controlled Jackson County and the two largest, Freedom, Inc,. which controlled the black vote in Kansas City, and Bill Royster, who controlled the vote in the northeast portion of the city, had already endorsed Tom Eagleton before True Davis filed.
Neither faction cared who their U.S. Senator was. They were only interested in patronage jobs controlled by the county and state elected officials. Bill Royster told me he had taken $60,000 to endorse Eagleton and pay for his precinct workers and sample ballots. He added that he was sorry he had endorsed so early. He could have easily gotten $100,000 from True.
Had he filed sooner, True could have gotten the endorsement of all the factions in Kansas City, and probably would have won. He was a brilliant person and would have changed the course of political history in both Missouri and the nation.
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.jackremembers.com