"I wish we could say ‘Thanks’ personally".
In 1948, Johnson ran for the U.S. Senate. The election was highly controversial: a three-way Democratic Party primary saw Johnson facing a well-known former governor, Coke Stevenson, and a third candidate. Johnson drew crowds to fairgrounds with his rented helicopter dubbed “The Flying Windmill” and raised money to flood the state with...
In 1948, Johnson ran for the U.S. Senate. The election was highly controversial: a three-way Democratic Party primary saw Johnson facing a well-known former governor, Coke Stevenson, and a third candidate. Johnson drew crowds to fairgrounds with his rented helicopter dubbed “The Flying Windmill” and raised money to flood the state with campaign circulars. Stevenson came in first but lacked a majority, so a runoff was held in September. Johnson campaigned even harder, while Stevenson’s efforts were inadequate. The runoff count took a week as the two candidates see-sawed for the lead. The state Democratic committee handled the count, and it finally pronounced Johnson the winner by 87 votes. There were many allegations of fraud on both sides. Robert Caro argued in his 1989 biography of Johnson that he had rigged 10,000 ballots in Bexar County alone. However, the state Democratic convention upheld Johnson and he was the party’s nominee.
In preparation for the general election in November against the Republican candidate, LBJ sought to firm up his support by contacting his loyalists.
Typed Letter Signed on his Congressional letterhead, Washington, October 25, 1948, to Fred Witt of Cookville, Texas, expressing gratitude for his support and stating flat out that he would be happy to be of service to Witt in return. “We’ve surely been through some hectic days since the election, but I want you to know that Lady Bird and I will always be deeply grateful to you for your support. I wish we could say ‘Thanks’ personally, but if we don’t get the chance, I do want you to know how sincerely I appreciate all you have done. If I can ever be of service to you, any way, any time, don’t hesitate to let me know.” He continues with a P.S. “Since my former opponent has lined up with the Republican candidate, we have a splendid opportunity for an overwhelming victory on November 2nd. Won’t you please see that our friends and all good Democrats get out to vote on that date so that we will have a half-million majority this time?” Johnson was elected Senator in November, and went to Washington tagged with the sobriquet “Landslide Lyndon.”
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