Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Leon J. Shaikun, March 18, 1977

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - State Senate

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Partial Transcript: --first meet Earle Clements, and what were the circumstances surrounding your first meeting?

Segment Synopsis: The interview begins by recalling the first meeting between Clements and Shaikun, who spends some time describing the climate of the state legislature at the time of their tenure, and of Clements' work ethic and leadership as a state senator.

Keywords: Bills; Democrats; Leadership; Legislature; Political influence; Senators; State Senate; U.S. House of Representatives; Work ethic

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--General Assembly--Senate

00:07:17 - Influence on legislature

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Partial Transcript: Some people have mentioned, or written, that Mr. Clements and his supporters had a very strong influence over the state legislature, even after Mr. Clements' 1945 departure to Washington as Congressman from the second congre, congressional district.

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun confirms that Clements had a strong influence over state legislature, even after leaving for U.S. Congress, recalling that Clements had more influence from Washington than Harry Lee Waterfield had from Frankfort.

Keywords: Governors; Harry Lee Waterfield; House of Representatives; Leadership; Political campaigns; Political influence; Senators; Speaker of the House

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--General Assembly--Senate

00:10:12 - Factional disputes

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Partial Transcript: Especially during the 1940s and 1950s, the Kentucky Democratic Party has had factional disputes, uh, between the Chandler supporters and the Clements supporters. Would you comment on the sources of these, of these disputes?

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun says that the disputes among the Democratic factions "go back to the Tom Rhea days." He then discusses Clements' 1947 run for governor. Though he was not involved, he is able to recount the dynamics between Clements, Wetherby, and Waterfield.

Keywords: Campaigning; County judges; Democratic factions; Doc Beauchamp; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Lieutenant governors; Primaries; Thomas Rhea

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Lawrence Wetherby; Political campaigns--1947

00:15:46 - Clements' supporters in the gubernatorial campaign

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Partial Transcript: Did the Clements appeal readily cross class lines in the Louisville area, in your estimation?

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun gives his thoughts on Clements' appeal to lower-class and minority voters in Louisville, saying that he had a good connection with them and that Clements' "innocent country boy" persona often served him well. He also mentions Chandler's involvement in the campaign in supporting Waterfield, and to what extent Tom Rhea supported the campaign before his death in 1946.

Keywords: African Americans; Charisma; Class; Governors; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Louisville (Ky.); Minority votes; Public relations; Senate; Thomas Rhea

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Minorities--Political activity; Political campaigns--1947

00:20:21 - Clements support for senators

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Partial Transcript: Why, in your view, did Mr. Clements, or Governor Clements, support Representative Virgil Chapman for the U.S. Senate in 1949, instead of John Y. Brown, or, say, even Tom Underwood, or perhaps someone else?

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun says he doesn't know the motivations for Clements' support for certain senators, and comments on Clements' appointment of Garrett Withers.

Keywords: Alcoholism; Appointments; Garrett Withers; John Y. Brown; Kentucky State Fair; Labor; Political support; Tom Underwood; Virgil Chapman

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985

00:24:10 - Education

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Partial Transcript: Going back to the education issue, uh, one of the big controversies, uh, regarding the Clements administration, uh, at least in the newspapers, has been whether or not Governor Clements promised the Kentucky Education Association and the educators thirty-three million dollars, or twenty three, uh, million dollars.

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun discusses the controversy in which Clements promised $33 million to education in his primary, but only allocated $23 million once in office, which resulted in teachers marching in protest. They then discuss various bills and tax policies that were adopted concerning education.

Keywords: Controversy; Education funding; Equalization; Jefferson County (Ky.); Kentucky Education Association (KEA); Leadership; School districts; Tax reform; Taxes

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Education--Kentucky--Louisville; Education--Kentucky.

00:29:17 - Miscellaneous questions

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Partial Transcript: Can you discuss the reasoning which led to Governor Clements, uh--to create the state police organization in 1948?

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun runs through a long succession of specific questions which he does not have a great deal to say about. However, he does briefly address Clements' approach to race, and his political loss in 1947, attributing the latter to the presidential election of that year.

Keywords: African Americans; Democratic factions; Lawrence Wetherby; Newspapers; Political losses; Public opinion; Race relations; Racial equality; Senate; State police; Thruston Morton

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political campaigns--1967

00:36:31 - Tensions in legislature

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Partial Transcript: Uh, was their opposition primarily because they were Waterfield supporters, in your view, or was it, uh, uh, because they opposed, uh, the tactics of the Clements administration?

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun discusses tensions between the governor, particularly during Clements' tenure, and the legislature, due to the power held by Kentucky governors.

Keywords: Executive branch; Fights; Gag rule; Guns; Harry Lee Waterfield; Legislation; Legislative branch; Legislature; Newspapers; Opposition; Power; Public opinion

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Governors--Kentucky; Legislators

00:39:52 - Henry Ward / Dick Maloney

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Shaikun, would you comment about Mr. Clements' relationship with Henry Ward?

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun discusses Clements' appointment of Henry Ward as Park Commissioner, despite their opposing views. He discusses Dick Maloney's role as Clements' adviser.

Keywords: Advisers; Caucuses; Dick Maloney; General Assembly; Harry Lee Waterfield; Henry Ward; Hiring; Legislation; Legislature; Parks commissioners; Senators; State parks

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political parties.

00:43:25 - Clements' accessibility / racing legislation

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Shaikun, how accessible was Mr. Clements, uh, when you were in the legislature?

Segment Synopsis: Shaikun discusses how available Clements was during his tenure as governor. He discusses the issues of parimutuel betting, as well as the tension within the legislature regarding dog racing in Kentucky.

[Several interruptions in taping occur during this segment, and a brief portion of the segment is repeated.]

Keywords: Accessible; Approaches; Dick Maloney; Dog racing; Dog track bill; Lapels; Lawrence Wetherby; Laws; Legislation; Legislators; Lobbying; Parimutuel betting; Personal contact; Presence; Racetracks; Tax bills; Tommy Fitzpatrick

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Governors--Kentucky