1972 United States Senate election in Louisiana

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John Bennett Johnston.jpg
John McKeithen (LA).png
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Nominee J. Bennett Johnston John McKeithen Ben Toledano
Party Democratic Independent Republican
Popular vote 598,987 250,161 206,846
Percentage 55.21% 23.06% 19.07%

1972 United States Senate election in Louisiana results map by parish.svg
Parish results
Johnston:      30–40%      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%
McKeithen:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%

U.S. senator before election

Elaine Edwards

Elected U.S. Senator

J. Bennett Johnston

The 1972 United States Senate election in Louisiana was held on November 9, 1972.

Former State Representative J. Bennett Johnston was elected to the Senate to succeed First Lady of Louisiana Elaine Edwards, who had been appointed by her husband on an interim basis following the death of Senator Allen Ellender. Following Johnston's victory in the general election, Elaine Edwards resigned and Governor Edwin Edwards appointed Johnston, so that he could gain seniority in the Senate.

Democratic primary




Senator Ellender died July 27, a few weeks before the August 19 primary, but his name remained on the ballot.


1972 Democratic U.S. Senate primary[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic J. Bennett Johnston 623,078 79.44%
Democratic Frank T. Allen 88,198 11.25%
Democratic Allen Ellender (inc., deceased) 73,088 9.32%
Total votes 784,364 100.00%

Republican primary




Following Ellender's death, the Republican Party replaced presumptive nominee Charles McLean with attorney and New Orleans mayoral candidate Ben Toledano. Toledano was unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Independents and third parties

American Independent


Following Ellender's death, former Governor John McKeithen joined the race as an independent candidate. He initially hoped to enter the race as a Democrat but was barred by party leaders from entering the primary. He campaigned against the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, George McGovern.[3]

General election


The sudden death of Ellender and the independent candidacy of former Governor McKeithen made this a rare competitive general election in Louisiana. The Republican Party had not seriously contested one of Louisiana's Senate seats since Reconstruction, and Republican leaders believed McKeithen's presence in the race could split the Democratic vote.[3]

McKeithen ran a populist, agrarian campaign against Johnston, citing his own investment in the state's agriculture industry and attempting to portray Johnston as an urban elitist, similar to McKeithen's campaign against former New Orleans Mayor deLesseps Story Morrison in the 1963-64 governor's race. All three major candidates supported President Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War.[3]


General election results[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic J. Bennett Johnston 598,987 55.21% Decrease44.79
Independent John J. McKeithen 250,161 23.06% N/A
Republican Ben Toledano 206,846 19.07% Increase19.07
American Independent Hall M. Lyons 28,910 2.67% Increase2.67
Total votes 1,084,904 100.00%

See also


  1. ^ "Johnston Wins in Louisiana". The New York Times. August 20, 1972. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  2. ^ "1972 US Senate – D Primary". OurCampaigns. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Reed, Roy (September 30, 1972). "THE 1972 CAMPAIGN". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  4. ^ "LA US Senate". OurCampaigns. Retrieved August 15, 2019.