Robert F. Kennon

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Robert Floyd Kennon, Sr., known as Bob Kennon (1902-1988), was a conservative Democrat who served as the 48th governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana. His tenure extended for a single term from 1952 to 1956.

A native of Dubberly south of Minden in Webster Parish in north Louisiana, Kennon graduated from Minden High School, Louisiana State University, and the LSU law school in Baton Rouge. He was the youngest person to serve as mayor of Minden, filling a two-year term from 1926 to 1928. For a time, he also held the record as the youngest mayor in the United States. Thereafter, he was a district attorney and a state circuit court judge. He served in World War II. He ran unsuccessfully in 1948 both for governor and the United States Senate. In the second contest, he narrowly lost a special election to Russell B. Long of Baton Rouge, a son of Huey P. Long, Jr., for the right to succeed John H. Overton, who died in office.

Kennon won the 1952 governor's race in a runoff contest against Judge Carlos Spaht of Baton Rouge. He is remembered for industrial recruitment, the establishment of voting machines in all precincts, the passage of a temporary right to work law, and support for school segregation, which was struck down by the United States Supreme Court in 1954.

Ineligible to run again in 1956, Kennon was succeeded by his predecessor and political rival, Earl Long, brother of Huey Long. In 1963, Kennon ran third in the Democratic gubernatorial race, which occurred some two weeks after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. During that campaign, Kennon had made numerous anti-Kennedy remarks which may have had the impact of dampenintg his prospects at a comeback. Victory instead went to fellow Democrat John J. McKeithen of Caldwell Parish in north Louisiana, a protege of Earl Long.

On several occasions, Kennon endorsed Republican presidential nominees. He and his wife, the former Eugenia Sentell, are interred at the Young Cemetery in East Baton Rouge Parish.

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