Jennings Randolph Elected To Senate In 1958

Charleston Gazette
November 5, 1958

Byrd, Randolph Sent To Senate As Democrats Score Landslide

Margin Greatest Since '36 Sweep

Seats Won by 100,000-Plus; Victories Cinch Senate Reins

By Harry G. Hoffman
Editor The Gazette

West Virginia launched two Democrats to the U. S. Senate Tuesday.

The takeoff was strong, the climb steady...and shortly before midnight Robert C. Byrd and Jennings Randolph went into political orbit with majorities pushing well above the 100,000 mark.

It was a significant, nationally-observed victory for the defeat of Republican Senators Chapman Revercomb and John D. Hoblitzell, Jr., clinched Democratic control of the Senate by guaranteeing a majority of 50 in the 86th Congress.

Associated Press tabulations from 2,665 of the state's 2,806 precincts early today showed these results:

Byrd 373,481; Revercomb 256,586.

Randolph 365,479; Hoblitzell 249,411.

The two Democrats, in a joint statement issued at 11 p. m., termed their decisive victory "a clear mandate to substitute action for inaction, to provide leadership where it is lacking."

Another statement, issued at the same time by Democratic State Chairman Hulett C. Smith and State Campaign Manager John E. Amos, called the Democratic sweep "a triumph for the people."

The Republicans sensed defeat early in the night, and Revercomb wired Byrd congratulations on his victory at about 11:15 p. m.

Majorities piled up by Byrd and Randolph were the biggest for either party since 1936, and for Revercomb it was the most devastating defeat he has suffered in three losses in bids for the Senate.

Revercomb, who first went to the Senate in 1942 by defeating the then Gov. M. M. Neely by 51,771 lost to Neely in 1948 by 106,820 and to the late Sen. Harley M. Kilgore in 1952 by 63,465. Then, two years ago, he was elected to Kilgore's unexpired term in the Senate by a margin of 59,000.

Byrd, the poor boy who made good, and Randolph, the Elkins charmer who is achieving a life- long ambition in being elected to the Senate, piled up majorities that appeared headed for the neighborhood of 125,000.

In their joint statement, they said West Virginians "decided this election on the basis of issues, not personalities."

"In our discussion of the issues," they said, "it has been our purpose to present positive programs for action. Clearly, the people have approved. Accordingly in our representation of all the people it is our duty to move with resolution to fulfill their mandate."

At no time was the outcome in doubt. The first inkling came at poll-closing time, when a precinct in Hardy County which had gone Republican for the last 10 years showed Byrd and Randolph leading...and from there on out the two Democrats piled up increasingly large majorities.

This meant a complete switch of West Virginia voting sentiment from two years ago when the state gave its eight electoral votes to a Republican presidential nominee and elected a Republican governor for the first time since 1928.

Also, it meant that the state will be represented by two Democrats in the Senate instead of two Republicans, as at present.

Randolph, seeking the seat vacated by the death of M. M. Neely, will take office immediately and thus will become West Virginia's senior senator. His term will run through 1960.

Byrd, elected over Revercomb for the full term, will serve through 1964.

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