Carlos Spaht

Carlos Spaht

Carlos G. Spaht (August 2, 1906 - April 29, 2001) was a Louisiana judge best remembered for having lost the Democratic gubernatorial runoff election in January 1952 to fellow Judge Robert F. Kennon of Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. Spaht's unsuccessful ticket-mate for lieutenant governor was future Governor John J. McKeithen of Columbia, the seat of Caldwell Parish in north Louisiana. McKeithen lost to then State Senator C.E. "Cap" Barham of Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish, also in north Louisiana. At the time, McKeithen was an outgoing member of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Spaht was affiliated for years with the Baton Rouge law firm Kantrow, Spaht, Weaver & Blitzer.

Early years

Spaht was reared on a dairy farm. The family moved from Missouri to Louisiana in the middle 1920s. He attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps and received his law degree in 1931.

He served in the United States Army during World War II, having eventually earned the rank of colonel. He went on active duty in the summer of 1941 and was sent to China to work with the 8th Chinese Army. He became involved in the battle to free the Burma Road. Here he met General Claire Chennault of the Flying Tigers, who grew up near Ferriday, Louisiana.

After his military service, Spaht was appointed a judge for the 19th Judicial District.

Gubernatorial campaign

In 1952, Spaht was asked to run for governor to succeed the then term-limited Earl Kemp Long. Anti-Long elements coalesced about Kennon. Earl Long, brother of the legendary Huey Pierce Long, Jr., was said to have hand-picked Spaht so that Long might still have some influence in government decisions. Dubbed "Earl's Boy" ["Legacy to Power: Senator Russell Long of Louisiana" by Robert T. Mann pg 132] , Spaht was the Long candidate largely by default in what became an anti-Long year. Opponents of the Long ticket opposed tax increases during Earl Long's tenure and feared such increased costs of government would continue under a Spaht administration.

In the first primary in December 1951, nine candidates ran. Spaht led with received 173,987 votes to Kennon's 163,434 votes. In the runoff, all seven other candidates, including U.S. Representative Hale Boggs of New Orleans, endorsed Kennon, who defeated Spaht, 61-39 percent. In the April 22 general election, Kennon defeated the first Republican of the twentieth century even to seek the office, Harrison G. Bagwell of Baton Rouge by a 96-4 percent margin.

Spaht ran for governor again in 1956, when Earl Long won outright in the first primary.

Civic accomplishments

Spaht was a proponent of the desegregation of the LSU Law School and later worked to end segregation in other venues. He promoted the creation of predominantly African American Southern University campuses in Shreveport and New Orleans.

When McKeithen became governor, he named Spaht to the prestigious LSU Board of Supervisors. Spaht worked with McKeithen in 1964 in drafting a code of ethics for elected officials and state employees.

Memberships

State Commission on Alcoholism
Baton Rouge Bi-Racial Committee
Committee on Emergency Allocations
State Ethics Board

Death and burial

Spaht died in Baton Rouge. He is interred at Greenoaks Memorial Park in East Baton Rouge Parish.

On April 2, 2008, Spaht, along with former State Senator J.D. DeBlieux and former Register of the State Lands Ellen Bryan Moore, was honored posthumously by the annual Louisiana Governor's Prayer Breakfast.

References


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