Who Will Be Governor?

Three Governors Controversy

“I need somebody to pick up after I’m gone.”

Boys, I’m dying, but my doctors won’t tell me so. I need somebody to pick up after I’m gone, and it oughta be Herman. Herman’s a brilliant boy; he has a great future in politics. He could even be a senator. Lindley, you know a lot of politics, and you can guide him there. Ed, you’re a reporter and you can get him publicity. I want you boys to promise to help him in any way you can.”

Editor's Note: Shortly before taking office, Governor-elect Eugene Talmadge died on December 21st, 1946. As Talmadge’s health worsened, he phoned two friends, reporter Ed Bridges and adviser Lindley Camp, and urged them to help his son, Herman, in his political career after Eugene passed. This quote foreshadowed the conflict over the governor’s office that would take place following Eugene’s death. 

Lacking clear direction from the state constitution on how to proceed, three individuals claimed they had the most right to fill the now vacant governor’s seat. In what became known as the Three Governors Controversy, Herman Talmadge, lieutenant-governor Melvin Thompson, and Governor Ellis Arnall fought bitterly in the courts and in the press over the governorship. The question was not resolved until the Georgia General Assembly called a special election in 1948 in which Eugene's son, Herman Talmadge, was elected governor of Georgia