Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Smith D. Broadbent, Jr., May 20, 1977

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Kentucky Democratic Party politics during the 1930s and 1940s

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Mr. Smith D. Broadbent, Jr. for the Earle C. Clements Oral History Project of the University of Kentucky Library.

Segment Synopsis: Smith Broadbent talks about his earliest political activity, the 1943 gubernatorial campaign. He talks about various people he knew, including family members, who were involved in that campaign and earlier state political campaigns. He talks about attending a political convention with his father who was a delegate. He talks about his early acquaintance with Earle Clements and other people involved with the Kentucky Democratic Party during the 1930s and 1940s.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Ben Kilgore; Clarence Broadbent; Dan Talbott; Governors; Happy Chandler; J. Lyter Donaldson; Keen Johnson; Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation; Marvel Mills Logan; Ned Breathitt; Pop Griffith; Ruby Laffoon; Smith Broadbent, Sr.; State Highway Commission; Thomas Rhea; Trigg County (Ky.)

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government; Political campaigns

00:09:28 - Impressions of Happy Chandler

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Partial Transcript: Well, what were your impressions--I want to, even though this is basically about Clements, I do want to ask you some questions about Chandler while we were here.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says he has a favorable opinion of Happy Chandler even though he always opposed him politically. He talks about Chandler's political program and style. He talks about the political factions and people associated with those respective factions.

Keywords: Ben Kilgore; Clarence Broadbent; Earle C. Clements; Garrett Withers; Governors; Great Depression; Happy Chandler; J. Lyter Donaldson; Lobbyists; Oratory skills; Taxes; Thomas Rhea

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Kentucky--Politics and government

00:14:08 - Earle Clements and Harry Lee Waterfield

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Partial Transcript: Of course Clements was, uh--of course won that election and going to Congress, and some people thought at the time that he had ambitions to be governor.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent talks about Harry Lee Waterfield's management of Ben Kilgore's gubernatorial campaign. He talks about his association with Waterfield through their work at the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation. He talks about how factions divided the Democratic Party and his own family, which he thinks contributed to the election of a Republican governor. He talks about Waterfield's political ambitions and his factional opposition to Clements.

Keywords: Ben Kilgore; Campaigning; Clarence Broadbent; Democratic factions; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Insurance; J. Lyter Donaldson; Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation; Noble Gregory; Political campaigns; Politics; State Congress

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Waterfield, Harry Lee, 1911-1988

00:25:46 - Campaigning and finance

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Partial Transcript: Here in Cadiz the publisher and editor of the paper, uh, Edith Bingham Lawrence was apparently very much for Clements and served as state publicity chairman, uh, and there were some, uh, other divisions right here in Trigg County.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent talks about a split in the Trigg County party organization following the contest between Kilgore and Donaldson that was resolved by a "gentlemen's agreement." He attributes Edith Bingham Lawrence's support for Clements to his uncle Clarence's influence. Broadbent talks about how political campaigns were financed with rationing stamps during the 1947 campaign after the war.

Keywords: Ben Kilgore; Campaign finance; Clarence Broadbent; Contributions; Democratic factions; Earle Clements; Edith Lawrence; Gas ration stamps; Harry Lee Waterfield; Henry Lawrence; Henry Lawrence Bridge; Rationing

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government; Political campaigns; Political participation

00:29:05 - Political issues in the 1947 campaign

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Partial Transcript: There were--seemed to be several key issues in the '47 campaign that the candidates differed on.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent emphasizes that during a first campaign, it is easy for a participant to think that whatever he stands for is good and anything his opponent stands for is bad. He talks about the various candidates' support for rural road projects in the 1947 gubernatorial campaign. He says that rural roads projects and rural electrification were supported by the Farm Bureau.

Keywords: Ben Kilgore; Campaigning; Earle C. Clements; Farm Bureau; Farmers; Harry Lee Waterfield; Rural Electrification Administration; Rural populations

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government; Political campaigns

00:33:05 - Waterfield's campaign for governor 1947

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Partial Transcript: Uh, of course you mentioned, uh, Kilgore and yourself as being in the campaign strategy development of the Waterfield campaign. Who were some of the other key members of Waterfield's campaign staff?

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent expresses the view that Waterfield was not as skilled at campaigning as Ben Kilgore. He says he was never confident that Waterfield would win the 1947 gubernatorial election because the campaign did not go smoothly from the beginning. He talks about the Waterfield political organization having association with the Kentucky Farm Bureau in common. He says that Clements said he would not have political differences cause a split in Broadbent's family.

Keywords: Ben Kilgore; Campaign staff; Campaigning; Clarence Broadbent; Harry Lee Waterfield; Kentucky Farm Bureau; Morehead (Ky.)

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government; Political campaigns

00:41:03 - Minority voters and the Kentucky State Fair

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Partial Transcript: Well, you seem to be the logical choice to help bridge the gap during this transition period. A lot of your close friends were Clements people, from, uh--people you had known for several years.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent talks about the support minority voters gave to his political faction in Trigg County. He talks about the support black voters gave to a school bond issue and to community organization. He talks about Clements' recruitment of him to be chair of the state fair board just before building a new state fairground.

Keywords: African-Americans; Bert Combs; Clarence Broadbent; Day Law; Fundraising; Governors; Higher education; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentucky State Fair; Minority votes; Murray (Ky.); Racial discrimination; Racial relations; Rumsey Taylor; Rural populations; Thomas Cooper

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Minorities--Political activity; Race relations--Kentucky

00:54:31 - Parimutuel betting at the fairgrounds / programs sponsored by Clements

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Partial Transcript: Well, I noticed a question arose over conducting races for parimutuel betting at the fair grounds. Uh, what was your position on this and what was Clements' position?

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says that parimutuel betting on horse racing at the state fair was under consideration when he came on the state fair board. He says that trotting for parimutuel betting was not approved. He talks about "Scoop" Sherwood as an acquaintance of his. He talks about the gasoline tax that was favored by the Farm Bureau because it was applied to rural road improvement.

Keywords: Alcohol; Conservatives; Farm Bureau; Gas tax; Happy Chandler; Newspapers; Parimutuel betting; Road program; Rural populations; Scoop Sherwood; State Fair Board; Trotting

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Horse racing--Betting; Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements)

00:59:41 - State programs under Clements

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Partial Transcript: Of course after the primary and getting into the general campaign, Waterfield supporters like yourself helped Clements get elected governor, and, uh, some people have commented...

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says that he is not surprised that Waterfield supporters who supported Clements in the general election were marginalized in the legislature because that is the nature of gubernatorial administration. He quotes Henry Ward to argue that tourism is among Kentucky's greatest industries. He talks about broadening Kentucky tourism. He talks about Henry Ward as a candidate and administrator. He describes two wardens at Eddyville prison as examples of practical administrators.

Keywords: "My Old Kentucky Home"; Finance; Governors; Harry Lee Waterfield; Henry Ward; Legislature; Luther Thomas; Mr. Buchanan; Roads program; State Fair

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Education--Kentucky; State parks & reserves (Ky.)

01:09:27 - Rural roads and rural electrification

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Partial Transcript: Of course your main interest during this period--the way you made your living was as a farmer and businessman. How did the Clements administration affect farming and business in Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent talks about the Clements administration's policies toward Kentucky farmers by supporting the rural roads program and rural electrification. He says that Clements would discuss policy changes with interested parties in private in order to explain his reasons and possibly muster support.

Keywords: Farming; Roads program; Rural Electrification Administration; Utilities

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government

01:11:20 - Withers and Clements and Kentucky politics

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Partial Transcript: Barkley became vice president in '48 and his Senate seat became vacant. Some people wanted Clements to go on and go to the Senate then, but he chose to appoint Garrett Withers to fill out the remaining part of the term.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says that he supported the appointment of Garrett Withers to Alben Barkley's unfinished Senate term in 1948 because Withers was a longtime family friend. He says he saw no ethical problems with the appointment. He says that Clements went to the Senate early in 1950 in order to gain seniority, just as Wendell Ford did later. He denied that political assessments on public employees were made by Clements, but that strong suggestions for contributions were made. He says resisting the governor's political fundraising efforts while working for the administration is unwise.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Democratic factions; Ethics; Garrett Withers; Governors; Kenlake Park; Lawrence Wetherby; Luther Thomas; Primaries; Senate; Senators; Tickets; Wendell Ford

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

01:16:19 - Clements in the Senate, 1950 / Clements' personal acquaintances

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Partial Transcript: 'Course Clements went to the Senate in 1950. Do you feel like he was an effective senator for this part of the state? Maybe any particular projects that you recall that he worked on?

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent observes that Clements was more effective in managing politics on an individual level more than public speaking. He says Clements was close to Lyndon Johnson. He talks about Clements' loss of his Senate seat resulting from his support of Lawrence Wetherby against John Sherman Cooper. He says Clements would investigate his constituents' needs by asking them in person. He says Wetherby as governor was overshadowed by Clements' legacy projects such as the parks program and new fairgrounds. However, he says Wetherby was his "own man." He describes a visit he made to Clements in Washington during his Senate tenure, and discussing campaign strategy with several senators at Clements' home. He talks about Clements' personal acquaintances.

Keywords: Agricultural committee; Airports; Bess Clements; Bob Kerr; Campaigning; Governors; Happy Chandler; Jane Dyer Arnold; John Little McClellan; John Sherman Cooper; Lawrence Wetherby; Lester C. Hunt; Lyndon Johnson; Minority Whips; Parks program; Sara Clements; Senators; State fairgrounds; State parks; Thruston Morton; Washington, D.C.

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

01:27:33 - Sara Clements / Kentucky political factions

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to follow up on that about Mrs. Clements on just one point. You know in the past few years there's been a lot of talk about political wives and how they respond to having a husband like Earle Clements...

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent talks about his observations of the Clements' marriage. He says it was always clear that Chandler would run against Lawrence Wetherby for governor. He talks about Bert Combs as a candidate and recalls that he was a "poor" candidate because of his cold personality. He says Clements supported Combs and was disappointed by his campaign and defeat.

Keywords: Bert Combs; Campaigning; Democratic factions; Governors; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Lawrence Wetherby; Luther Thomas; Political wives; Politics; Sara Clements

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government; Political campaigns--1955

01:34:49 - Broadbent reappointed to the fair board by Chandler

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Partial Transcript: Now after Chandler was--became governor, you resigned from the fair board.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says he resigned from the fair board when Chandler became governor in 1955, but was reappointed by Chandler. He talks about how Chandler had campaigned against the spending for the fairground and toll road and how this adversely affected his role after reappointment. He talks about how Chandler referred to Clements and Wetherby as "Clementine and Wetherbine." He talks about how he recruited Clyde Reeves as the director of the fair grounds and about how management of the fair completely changed under Chandler.

Keywords: Archie Cochran; Baseball; Bill Natcher; Billy Graham Crusade; Clyde Reeves; Democratic factions; Governors; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; John DeMoiselles; Noble Gregory; Stadiums; State fair grounds; Stephens College

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Kentucky--Politics and government

01:44:26 - Broadbent gets fired from fair board

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Partial Transcript: And, Wilson just absolutely when he got around over the state, he was finding all the time he didn't have any support. So--but he wouldn't get out of the race.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent tells an elaborate story in which he becomes involved in the lieutenant governor's race. He talks about how this involvement lead to Happy Chandler dismissing him from the state fair board.

Keywords: Ben Kilgore; Bert Combs; Courier Journal; Democratic factions; Fundraising; Governors; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Kerry Vinson; Lawrence Wetherby; Lieutenant governors; Luther Thomas; Lyter Donaldson; Political campaigns; Smith Broadbent Sr.; Trigg County (Ky.); Wilson White

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government

02:00:54 - Clements compared to Chandler

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Partial Transcript: I had a, a general question. You sure I'm not taking--

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says that he thinks Chandler was past his prime during his second gubernatorial administration. He says Chandler was less forgiving of anyone who "crossed" him. He says that Clements was more effective in this respect than Chandler.

Keywords: Bob Bumpus; Governors; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Leadership; Ned Breathitt

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985

02:03:03 - Clements' defeat in 1956

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Partial Transcript: We've gone on a long time, but I do want to talk about the '56 campaign and Clements' defeat. He had opposition in the primary from the Chandler--the Chandler people.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says that Clements had little worry in the 1956 campaign, but that Wetherby was having difficulty. He says that because of this, Clements spent too much effort supporting Wetherby, to his own detriment. He talks about opposition from the Chandler faction as contributing to Clements' defeat. He talks about Clements' reaction to his defeat in the Senate election, and how Lyndon Johnson retained his services in Washington as campaign strategist.

Keywords: Bert Combs; Democratic factions; Happy Chandler; Highway commissioners; Lawrence Wetherby; Lyndon Johnson; Political defeat; Political power; Re-elections; Road programs; Senate; Thruston Morton

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky--Politics and government; Political campaigns--1956

02:08:37 - Shifting Kentucky Democratic Party factions

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Partial Transcript: Clements had his problems with the Combs administration and ended up leaving the administration and, and becoming apparently very mad at, at Combs.

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent says that Clements joining with the Chandler faction did not help his prospects. He talks about a grudge Clements held against Bert Combs as a result of a scandal over trucks while he was highway commissioner. He talks about Clements' support of Lyndon Johnson in the 1960 presidential campaign, which was not successful for Clements. He expresses his admiration for Earle Clements.

Keywords: Bert Combs; Democratic factions; Happy Chandler; Highway commissioners; Lawrence Wetherby; Lyndon Johnson; Ned Breathitt; Politics; State Fair Board; Tax fraud; Thomas Rhea

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political concepts and ideologies

02:13:40 - Earle C. Clements' political philosophy

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Partial Transcript: What was his political philosophy? What--how would, how would you--if someone--you know, if you had to explain to somebody what Earle Clements' political philosophy was, what's the best way to describe it?

Segment Synopsis: Broadbent talks about Clements as deliberate and organized in his political activity. He talks about the respect Ned Breathitt expressed for Clements. He talks about Clements' ability to relate to people on a personal level. He talks about a controversy between Clements and the KEA over a misplaced decimal about which Clements made a joke.

Keywords: Degrees; Education; Ideologies; Kentucky Education Association; Lawrence Wetherby; Ned Breathitt; Philosophies; Public relations; Schools; Teachers

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Political concepts and ideologies