Long

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The Long Political Family

Based in: Louisiana

Members: Huey P. Long, Rose McConnell Long, Earl Long, Russell B. Long


Of all people in Louisiana's "colorful" political history, the best-known are the members of the Long family. Huey "Kingfish" Long, the family patriarch, was first elected Governor in 1928. During the Depression, he became a dictatorial ruler, taxing the rich heavily, investing in social welfare, and installing his cronies in all levels of the government. He made the jump to the US Senate in 1930, handily winning the election, but did not take his seat until 1932. By then, his supporters were firmly in control of the state legislature, and another crony, Alvin King, was elected to replace Long as Governor.

Long had presidential ambitions, and in 1935, he declared that he would challenge Franklin Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination. One of his proposals, the Share Our Wealth Society, was a radical income-redistribution plan. In September 1935, he was shot by the son-in-law of a political opponent. He died several days later. Willie Stark of Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men" is based partially on Long.

Rose McConnell Long, his wife, was appointed to replace him in the Senate, as was the custom. She served out the rest of his term and left the Senate in 1937.

In 1936, Earl Long, Huey's brother, was elected Lieutenant Governor of the state. He became Governor in 1939 upon the resignation of Richard Leche, and served until 1940. He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election. However, he was once again elected Governor in 1947, and served from 1948 to 1952. He served yet another term from 1956 to 1960.

His eccentric behavior led many to think that he had bipolar disorder; while Governor, he was confined to a mental institution. However, his cronies discovered that no law forbade him from running the state from the institution, so he fired the head of the hospital system and replaced him with another crony that would release him. After his last term as governor expired, he won election as a US Representative, but died before his inauguration.

In 1948, Huey's son Russell was elected to the US Senate. A traditional yellow dog Democrat, Russell stood on the conservative side of the civil rights movement, and voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An unremarkable public servant, he was noted for his astute knowledge of tax policies. He won re-election in 1954, 1960, 1966, 1972, and 1978, and retired in 1987.

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