Robert F. Kennon

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Robert Floyd "Bob" Kennon

In office
May 13, 1952 – May 8, 1956
Preceded by Earl Long
Succeeded by Earl Long

Judge of the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit
In office
Preceded by Harmon Caldwell Drew
Succeeded by J. Frank McInnis

District Attorney for Bossier and Webster parishes
In office
December 6, 1930 – January 6, 1941
Preceded by R. H. Lee
Succeeded by Graydon K. Kitchens, Sr.

In office
Preceded by Connell Fort
Succeeded by Henry L. Bridges

Born August 21, 1902
Dubberly, Webster Parish
Died January 11, 1988
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Resting place Young Cemetery in East Baton Rouge Parish
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Eugenia Sentell Kennon
Relations Edward Francis Kennon, Jr. (nephew)
Children Three sons
Alma mater Louisiana State University
LSU Law School
Occupation Lawyer

United States Army in World War II

Religion Presbyterian

Robert Floyd Kennon, Sr., known as Bob Kennon (August 21, 1902 – January 11, 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 after unseating Mayor Connell Fort. 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 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. Intra-party rival Bill Dodd, the outgoing lieutenant governor, was defeated in the primary. Dodd was succeeded as lieutenant governor by C. E. "Cap" Barham, an attorney and state senatorfrom Ruston. Kennon polled 96 percent of the general election ballots over the Republican nominee, Harrison Bagwell of Baton Rouge. Governor Kennon 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 Kemp 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 dampening his prospects for a comeback. Victory instead went to fellow Democrat John J. McKeithen of Caldwell Parish in north Louisiana, a protege of Earl Long, who in a runoff election defeated deLesseps Story "Chep" Morrison, Sr., the former mayor of New Orleans. Edged out along with Kennon in the 1963 primary were U.S. Representative Gillis Long and Education Superintendent Shelby M. Jackson.

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.

See also