Monroe Schwarzlose

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Monroe Alfred Julius Schwarzlose​

(Arkansas farmer and perennial political candidate)​

Born September 6, 1902​
Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas, USA​
Died November 24, 1990 (aged 88)​
​Place of death unavailable

Resting place:
Zorn Cemetery in Zorn, Texas​

Political Party Republican-turned-Democrat

Democratic gubernatorial primary contender in 1978, 1980, and 1982 against Bill Clinton

Spouse Not mentioned in obituary​

One daughter​

Religion Lutheran

Monroe Alfred Julius Schwarzlose (September 6, 1902 – November 24, 1990) was a turkey farmer in Cleveland County, Arkansas, who was a Democratic primary opponent in 1980 of incumbent Governor Bill Clinton. He gained 31 percent of the ballots cast, but Clinton lost the ensuing gubernatorial general election to Republican Frank D. White.​[1] ​ Schwarzlose also ran unsuccessfully on other occasions for governor and for other elected offices from the middle 1970s to the middle 1980s.​

Life and career

​ Schwarzlose was born of German ancestry in Seguin in Guadalupe County east of San Antonio, Texas. He was living in Oregon at the time he procured his Social Security number. He settled in Kingsland, Arkansas, but his obituary does not say when he moved to the state.[2]​ ​ Schwarzlose ran as a Republican in 1974, a heavily Democratic year nationally, for a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives from a district which then encompassed Dallas, Calhoun, and part of Cleveland counties in southern Arkansas. He was easily beaten by the Democrat Thomas Sparks of Fordyce in Dallas County[3]

In 1978, Schwarzlose polled 1 percent of the vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary against Bill Clinton, who was then the attorney general of Arkansas, and three other rivals. He ran on a platform calling for legalized gambling and a state lottery. Schwarzlose said that gambling would continue to be practiced, and the state government should obtain a portion of the proceeds.​[4]

In 1980, Schwarzlose, at the age of seventy-eight, became the beneficiary of anti-Clinton sentiment in Arkansas. In his race against Clinton, he spent only $4,000, mostly for travel and for distributing home-canning recipes as campaign literature. The Arkansas Gazette called Schwarzlose "an engaging gentleman with good home-canning recipes and some fetching stories about turkey farming and bucolic life around his home in Kingsland." An editor of The Gazette described Schwarzlose as a "quixotic candidate" and a maverick who was using his own money and campaigning on the most undesirable platform planks, and making the "most outrageous" promises. Schwarzlose, for instance, said that if he were elected governor in 1980, he would donate his farm to the Arkansas Sheriff's Association Boys and Girls Ranches for use as an orphanage.​[2]

Schwarzlose ran again for governor in the 1982 Democratic primary against Clinton, former Lieutenant Governo Joe Purcell. U.S. Representative Jim Guy Tucker, and state Senator Kim Hendren. Clinton won the nomination in a runoff with Purcell, and Schwarzlose finished in fifth place. In 1986, Schwarzlose filed as a write-in candidate, when Clinton won his first four-year term as governor by again defeating Frank White.[5] ​ At the time of Schwarzlose's death, Clinton said through a spokesman that he had first met Schwarzlose at a campaign event in 1978 in Lake Village in Chicot County in the heavily Democratic southeastern corner of the state. He last saw him in 1989 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Little Rock. Schwarzlose was a veteran of World War II. Clinton added that he "really enjoyed knowing him."​[6]

Schwarzlose was a Lutheran. He was survived by a daughter and a grandchild and is interred near family members at the Zorn Cemetery in Zorn, Texas.​[2]


  1. "Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report," February 23, 1980, p. 442; May 17, 1980, p. 1324​.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kelly DeBrine, "Monroe Schwarzlose, political maverick, dies," Arkansas Gazette, November 25, 1990.
  3. .​The Arkansas Gazette, November 7, 1974.
  4. "Fresh Faces of '78", Newsweek, November 20, 1978, p. 53.
  5. [​ Governors of Arkansas, Events and Candidates]. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved on June 10, 2019.
  6. Roger Morris, Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996), pp. 243, 283​.