Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Big" Jim Folsom Campaigning With the Crimson Tide

UA President Raymond Paty, Alabama star Harry Gilmer and
Democratic candidate for Alabama Governor, Jim Folsom.
On Oct. 12, 1946, Alabama played its first game of the season at Denny Field against an outmatched Southwestern Louisiana squad (now UL-Lafayette). While spectators might have let their attention wander from the 54-0 blowout there was a distinctive six foot-eight inch figure on the sideline they could hardly miss -- "Big" Jim Folsom.

Folsom was a candidate in the state's gubernatorial election to be held in just three weeks time. The former University of Alabama student (he never graduated from the school) had survived an ugly party primary in the spring and was considered a shoo-in for the general election due to the weakness of the Republican party in the state.

According to the Tuscaloosa News, Folsom "was cheered by thousands of students. He gave the fans a thrill when he picked up and hugged and kissed a pretty co-ed cheerleader."

Folsom had been unsuccessful in his previous run for governor in 1942 but his calls for reform and colorful style earned him a growing base of support across the state. For the 1946 election he returned with his now trademark mop and bucket which he said would "clean out" the Capitol. As expected he was elected on Nov. 5, 1946 and was inaugurated the following January for the first of his two terms in office.