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Governor Wallace’s Popularity Skyrockets in Alabama

Apr. 4, 1964 - Governor George Wallace’s foray into the northern Presidential primaries is winning him a feverish following in Alabama. He is using these supporters to help build a political machine that threatens to eliminate moderates from public life and make the state a pure Dixiecrat enclave.

Wallace (pictured campaigning in Milwaukee) has used every resource of his office, including awarding and withholding contracts, to build his political faction and cut off support of the national Democratic party. Office holders who oppose the Governor’s plan for unpledged Presidential electors have found themselves opposed for reelection by Wallace men.

However he may appear from a national point of view, the 44-year-old former farm boy is billed in Alabama as a brave knight gone out to slay the dragon. Each thrust of his sword is chronicled in detail by Alabama reporters who follow him around the country.

“Governor Wallace scored the most dazzling triumph of his Wisconsin campaign,” began an article in Thursday’s Montgomery Advertiser.

When he is booed, Wallace is seen as the underdog, fighting against what an editorial writer for The Advertiser called “furious, hateful demagoguery” of Gov. John Reynolds of Wisconsin.

Disagreement between Wallace and Reynolds has developed into an undeclared referendum on the civil rights bill and at least a light test of President Johnson’s prestige. The Wisconsin primary is on Tuesday.

His popularity among whites appears to extend from the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, his slate of unpledged Presidential electors is expected to win overwhelmingly in the primary on May 5. If they do win over the loyalist candidates, who are pledged to the Democratic nominees, Alabama voters will not be able to vote for the Democratic ticket in November. They will have a choice between the Republican ticket and the unpledged electors, who can vote for whomever they please in the electoral college.

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