60 years ago, J Howard Edmondson became the youngest governor of Oklahoma.
Now his nephew(Drew) seeks to become the oldest. Drew's father & uncle were raised in a home which was enamored with politics. They became a force in Muskogee County at a time when Muskogee was a major economic force in Oklahoma.
J Howard became an attorney and advanced as a prosecutor in his late 20s & early 30s. Then he ran for governor and won at age 33. He was sworn in on a January day in 1959. That year there were only 3 Republicans in the State Senate and only 9 Republicans in the State House.
J Howard was generally a failed and disrespected kid, in the eyes of the Oklahoma legislature. He was an ardent enforcer of liquor prohibition during the time when the Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly voted to end the decades-long ban on liquor.
Within 2 years at the Governor's office J Howard was hated and rendered politically impotent.
He did not run for a 2nd term in office. But that was nothing new. No Oklahoma governor had ever succeeded in gaining a second term. Still in his mid 30s, J Howard was already a 'has been' and he was likely going to go from 'king' to a backroom role as kingmaker.
In 1958, Oklahoma Democrats had almost killed off Republicans in state govt. in 1958, But in 1962, Oklahomans elected Republican Henry Bellmon as the next governor.
J Howard did the worst political move of his life. He arranged with his lieutenant governor (George Nigh) to play musical chairs. Edmondson resigned the governorship on Jan. 6th, 1963, and George Nigh was sworn in as his very short tem replacement. Nigh then appointed Edmondson to fill the office of US senator until the next general election (nearly 2 years later).
That move so infuriated the state that they threw out Edmondson in the Democrat primary of 1964. Of course the Kerr family helped fund that defeat. They were outraged that Edmondson did not appoint Kerr's son to his father's vacated seat. the Kerr family was an even bigger dynasty among Oklahoma Democrats. And the Kerrs had immense wealth to back up their political ambitions.
From that time forward, the Edmondson legacy was mostly in the area of law. Although J Howard's brother(Ed) was a congressman from Eastern Oklahoma, all the rest of their political legacy came in both judgeships and as a prosecutor. Ed's two sons practiced law . William Andrew(Drew) Edmondson was the District Attorney in Muskogee county. His brother James Edmondson became a judge and justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Drew did run for congress in 1992, but incumbent Mike Synar defeated him in the primary. Drew Edmondson eventually won a very close race for Attorney General in 1994, barely beating out a younger Mike Hunter. Edmondson kept that post for 16 years, until 2010. In 2010 Drew ran for governor but Jari Askins defeated him in the Democrat primary.