Running For Governor
“Whenever anything is undertaken by anybody with the object of robbing the people who have to live by the sweat of their brow, it is always worked so smoothly that such nefarious schemes are put over before the people find out what is being done...
When I called attention in the Market Bulletin to the unreasonably high freight rates and to the fact that the farmers were being robbed by combinations of the packers, and when I called attention to the fact that the farmers of this state were being robbed by the Georgia Cotton Growers’ Cooperative Association, things did not run smoothly. The steel began to strike the flint, and the sparks began to fly. My countrymen, you will never get the graft and rottenness out of the state government; you will never get the taxes cut; you will never get rid of useless offices and useless expenses by running things smoothly, but it will take some one who is not afraid to fight to get relief from these things.”
Editor's Note: The excerpt above comes from a speech Talmadge gave during his final term as commissioner of agriculture, when he traveled around Georgia to campaign for the office of governor. Talmadge’s campaign strategy was to focus on winning the support of Georgia farmers, a strategy which proved to be successful. Under Georgia’s county unit system, every county was given at least two-unit votes even those counties with less than a thousand inhabitants. More densely populated, urban counties only received eight-unit votes. As a result, the votes of people living in rural counties weighed more than the votes coming from urban counties.
In campaign speeches, Talmadge appealed to Georgia farmers promising lower freight rates, lower taxes, and lower automobile license tags. His promises galvanized Georgia farmers who showed their support by attending many of his campaign events and showing up to the polls on election day. At the end of the 1932 gubernatorial election, Talmadge received 117,000 popular votes, almost 45,000 votes less than his opponents. However, Talmadge still won the election because he received twice as many county unit votes from rural counties than all of his opponents combined.