James D. Johnson
James Douglas Johnson (1924-2010) was a Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Arkansas, who was known as "Justice Jim" from his service on the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1959 to 1966. He resigned from the court to run unsuccessfully for governor in 1966, when he lost the general election to Republican Winthrop Rockefeller. Johnson was the first Democratic nominee since Reconstruction to lose a race for governor of Arkansas.
A native of Crossett in Ashley County in south Arkansas, Johnson resided for most of his life in Conway in Faulkner County near Little Rock.He served in the Arkansas State Senate from 1951 to 1957. In 1956, he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, having lost to the incumbent Orval E. Faubus. He was a strong opponent of racial integration of public schools, a position that he maintained for his entire life, long after segregation had lost political support in the South and came to an end.
In 1968, Johnson ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, having been defeated by the incumbent J. William Fulbright. That same year, Johnson's wife, the former Virginia Lillian Morris (1928-2007), who was his legal secretary, failed in a bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, having been defeated by Marion H. Crank of Foreman in Little River County in southwestern Arkansas. In 1968, the Johnsons supported the George Wallace presidential campaign, which won the electoral votes of Arkansas.
Later the Johnsons supported Frank D. White, the Republican who in 1980 unseated Bill Clinton for one term as governor of Arkansas. He switched to the Republican Party and was the party's nominee for Chief Justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Three years after the death of his wife, Johnson, who had health issues, committed suicide by gunshot to the chest at his home on Beaverfork Lake in Faulkner County.
- Biography at The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture