1966 United States Senate election in Mississippi
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James O Eastland.jpg
Prentiss Walker.jpg
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Nominee James Eastland Prentiss Walker Clifton R. Whitley
Party Democratic Republican Mississippi Freedom Democratic
Popular vote 258,248 105,150 30,502
Percentage 65.56% 26.70% 7.74%

1966 United States Senate election in Mississippi results map by county.svg
County results
Eastland:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%      80-90%
Walker:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%

U.S. senator before election

James Eastland

Elected U.S. Senator

James Eastland

The 1966 United States Senate election in Mississippi was held on November 8, 1966.

Incumbent James Eastland, who first entered the Senate on 1941, was re-elected to a fifth term in office. He was challenged by U.S. Representative Prentiss Walker. Walker was the first Republican elected to Congress from Mississippi since Reconstruction and was also the first such competitive Senate candidate.[1]

Democratic primary



1966 Democratic U.S. Senate primary[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic James Eastland (incumbent) 240,171 83.08%
Democratic Clifton R. Whitley 34,323 11.87%
Democratic Charles Mosby 14,591 5.05%
Total votes 289,085 100.00%

Republican primary



Walker was unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Independents and third parties

Mississippi Freedom Democratic

Reverend Clifton Whitley also ran for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.[3][4] A sore-loser law was invoked against Whitley, who had also run in the Democratic primary against Eastland. He only won his case one week before the election, thereby preventing to enter any serious campaign or fundraising.[5]

General election


Eastland cast the civil rights movement with the tar of Communism and Black Power and raised the bloody shirt of Reconstruction against the candidacy of Walker.[3] He was supported by segregationists Thomas Pickens Brady, George Wallace and Leander Perez.[5]

Walker, who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ran on the right of Eastland and solely focused on the white vote, accusing him of not being hard enough in opposing integration and being friendly with President Johnson, accusations to which Eastland partisans opposed the fact Walker nominated a black constituent, Marvell Lang, to the Air Force Academy.[6][3][5] Walker proudly announced he went to a meeting of the Americans for the Preservation of the White Race, a Ku Klux Klan front, enabling Eastland to proudly announce he was opposed by both the Klan and the AFL–CIO.[5]


Most of the White voters stayed with Eastland, and Walker ironically won African-Americans in southwestern Mississippi who wanted to cast a protest vote against Eastland.[1]

Years later, Wirt Yerger, the chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party in the 1960s, said that Walker's decision to relinquish his House seat after one term for the vagaries of a Senate race against Eastland was "very devastating" to the growth of the GOP in Mississippi.[7]

General election results[8][9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic James Eastland (incumbent) 258,248 65.56%
Republican Prentiss Walker 105,150 26.69%
Independent Clifton R. Whitley 30,502 7.74%
Majority 153,098 38.87%
Turnout 393,900
Democratic hold

See also


  1. ^ a b "Nation: Choosing Up". Time. June 17, 1966. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  2. ^ "MS US Senate - D Primary". OurCampaigns. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Asch, Chris Myers (February 1, 2011). The Senator and the Sharecropper: The Freedom Struggles of James Eastland and Fannie Lou Hamer. Univ of North Carolina Press. pp. 238–242. ISBN 9780807878057.
  4. ^ "Whitley, Clifton". crdl.usg.edu. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Annis, J. Lee (July 21, 2016). Big Jim Eastland: The Godfather of Mississippi. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781496806154.
  6. ^ Danielson, Chris. "Right Turn? The Republican Party and African-American Politics in Post-1965 Mississippi". ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ The Journal of Mississippi History. Mississippi Department of Archives and History. 1985. p. 256.
  8. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 8, 1966" (PDF). Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  9. ^ "MS US Senate Race". www.ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 16 August 2018.