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Oral History Interview with Dale Bumpers, June 17, 1974. Interview A-0026. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Dale Bumpers was elected governor of Arkansas in 1970, before his election to the United States Senate in 1974. Bumpers begins the interview by offering an assessment of his administration as governor of Arkansas. Emphasizing such accomplishments as tax reform and reorganization of state government, Bumpers describes how his election and administration helped to demystify political myths in the South. In particular, Bumpers explains that his successful elections in 1970 and 1974 demonstrated that political power could be wrested from those who had a larger financial backing, and that it was not necessary to be highly visible in the state in order to garner enough support. On the contrary, Bumpers was a virtual unknown on the political landscape when he defeated Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in 1970. Rockefeller was the first Republican governor to serve in Arkansas since Reconstruction. According to Bumpers, Rockefeller's election demonstrated a shifting political landscape that ultimately foretold the crumbling political power structure that had dominated southern politics for decades. It was the weakening of this power base that, in part, allowed Bumpers to defeat Rockefeller in 1970 and incumbent senator William Fulbright (who had served in the United States Senate for thirty years) in 1974. In describing his successful campaign strategies, Bumpers explains how he sought to appeal to Arkansas pride and a tendency of citizens to feel defensive about their rural roots. Bumpers had just been elected when the interview was conducted, and he offers his predictions for southern politics in coming years. Namely, Bumpers expresses his hope that southern Democrats would rejoin the national Democratic Party. Bumpers concludes the interview by offering his thoughts on the changing political landscape of the South, arguing that the term "emerging South" was more appropriate than "New South" in describing the region's economic growth and social developments.
    Excerpts
  • Deconstructing political myths about the Democratic Party
  • Crumbling power structures in southern politics
  • Decision to run for governor and campaign strategy
  • Decision to challenge incumbent Senator Fulbright, 1974
  • Hopes for southern Democrats falling back in line with the national Democratic Party
  • Describing the "emerging South" in contrast to the "New South"
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919-
  • Arkansas--Politics and government
  • Arkansas--Economic conditions
  • Democratic Party (Ark.)
  • Fulbright, J. William (James William), 1905-
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.