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Prentiss Lafayette Walker (August 23, 1917 - June 5, 1998) was a Mississippimarker politician.

Private Life

Walker was born in Taylorsville, Mississippimarker. He served in the United States Army in World War II and, after the war, worked as a chicken farmer in Smith County, Mississippimarker.

Political career

Prentiss Walker became the first Republican to be elected to the House of Representatives from Mississippi since Elza Jeffords in 1882 when he defeated William Arthur Winstead in 1964 by 7,000 votes. His victory is considered to have been heavily influenced by the campaign of Barry Goldwater, who won 87 percent of the vote in Mississippi in the 1964 presidential election.

Walker gave up his House seat to challenge Senator James O. Eastland in 1966. He accused Eastland of being too friendly to President Lyndon Johnson and of not doing enough to block integration-friendly judges in his position on the Judiciary Committee. Despite a spirited challenge, Walker lost by 27% to 65% to Eastland, with 105,652 votes. In 1968, Walker challenged G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery for his old House seat, but lost by 30% to 70%. Walker ran for the United States Senate against Eastland in 1972 as an Independent and won some 14,000 votes.

Reagan Anecdote

At a Republican fundraiser at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson on June 20, 1983, President Ronald Reagan told the following anecdote:

"Former Congressman Prentiss Walker, who I understand is here today, tells a story about his first campaign. He dropped in on a farm and introduced himself as a Republican candidate. And as he tells it, the farmer's eyes lit up, and then he said, 'Wait till I get my wife. We've never seen a Republican before.'

"And a few minutes later he was back with his wife, and they asked Prentiss if he wouldn't give them a speech. Well, he looked around for kind of a podium, something to stand on, and then the only thing available was a pile of that stuff that the late Mrs. Truman said it had taken her 35 years to get Harry to call "fertilizer.'

"So, he stepped up on that and made his speech. And apparently he won them over. And they told him it was the first time they'd ever heard a Republican. And he says, 'That's okay. That's the first time I've ever given a speech from a Democratic platform.' "

External links

Works cited

  • G.O.P.THREATENED IN SOUTH BY LOSS OF BACKLASH VOTE, Oct 9, 1966; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851 - 2003)

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