Ray Blanton

Leonard Ray Blanton ( born April 10, 1930 Hardin County, Tennessee, † November 22, 1996 in Jackson, Tennessee ) was an American politician and 1975-1979 Governor of the State of Tennessee.


Early years and political rise

Ray Blanton graduated from the University of Tennessee and was then for a short time teacher in Indiana. Then he returned to his hometown of Adamsville, to assist in building a family's road construction company. 1964 began his political career with election to the House of Representatives from Tennessee. Between 1967 and 1972 he was a member of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1972 he applied unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

In 1974 he applied within the Democratic Party for the nomination for the upcoming gubernatorial election. He received only 23 percent of the vote, but still enough, since a total of twelve other candidates competed and no one got more votes than him. In the actual election, he ran against Republican Lamar Alexander, his eventual successor. Blanton, who in 1972 presented as a segregationist, now appeared as a reform Democrat and managed the election victory. This was also a result of the Watergate scandal and the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon a few months before this election. The scandal brought the Republicans to Alexander 's election victory.

Governor of Tennessee

Blanton is still one of the most controversial governors of Tennessee. His term of office from 1975 to 1979 could have much to show positive aspects. He managed the first Ministry of Tourism nationwide to entice with the task of tourists in the state, and traveled to many countries to bring investors to Tennessee. Many companies from the UK, Japan and Germany and other countries followed its reputation and built production facilities in Tennessee, which managed to jobs and increased tax revenue brought. The governor reformed the pension legislation and introduced a tax relief for the elderly. Finally, he supported the rights of women and African Americans.

On the other hand, there were corruption and fraud scandals. There was accused, among other things, to have pardoned prisoners against bribe. Employees who opposed the were dismissed. In December 1978, the FBI raided the rooms of his legal adviser. As a result, three employees were arrested and Blanton had to appear in court. He rejected all accusations out of hand.

On 15 January 1979, shortly before leaving office, Blanton pardoned 52 prisoners, including a murderer, whose father was a political ally Blanton. His official reason for the pardons was the relief of the prisons. Actually, the official handover to his chosen successor Lamar Alexander should be made only on January 20. However, due to the 52 pardons were feared more such surprises. Therefore, all parties decided in Tennessee, on the advice of the FBI unanimously, the inauguration of Alexander by three days preferable.

Evening of life and death

After his term was further investigated Blanton and in June 1981 he was sentenced in a federal penitentiary, among others for fraud and illegal sale of liquor licenses to 22 months in prison. Some of these points were lifted in 1988 by a Court of Appeals again. For the rest of his life Blanton worked to improve its reputation again. He applied again in 1988 for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but received only seven percent of the vote. 1996 Blanton died of kidney failure.