First Republican in 91 Years Wins Statewide Vote

Republican John Tower, a pint-size college professor from Wichita Falls, did the impossible on April 4, 1961 by leading four Democrats in a special election to fill Vice-President Lyndon Johnson’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

Practically everyone, including most Republicans, dismissed Tower’s surprisingly strong showing as a fluke and gave him no chance to defeat William Blakely in the runoff on May 27.  Tower not only whipped his overconfident foe but went on to win three six-year terms in 1966, 1972 and 1978 before retiring from the Senate.

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