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A Rare Write-in Candidate Elected to the 86th Congress (1959–1961)

November 04, 1958
A Rare Write-in Candidate Elected to the 86th Congress (1959–1961) Image, Congressional Pictorial Directory, 1957 An eight-term Member of the House, Brooks Hays of Arkansas lost his House seat in an election that hinged on school desegregation in Little Rock.
On this date, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Dr. Thomas Alford became the second Representative in congressional history to be elected by a write-in vote. Running as an Independent Democrat, Alford (a Little Rock school board member and segregationist) announced his candidacy eight days before the election to the 86th Congress (1959–1961). Support for Alford crystallized among voters who resented federal enforcement of desegregation in the Little Rock school system. In a hotly contested election race, Alford defeated eight-term incumbent Representative Brooks Hays by 2,000 votes. Considered a political moderate, Hays argued that the Little Rock school board needed to implement desegregation based on the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. the Board of Education. Hays believed that in retaliation for his position segregationist governor and fellow Democrat Orval E. Farbus orchestrated Alford’s election. After conceding defeat Hays told the press, “The Governor, for some reason I don’t know, decided he did not want me in Congress.” He continued, “I doubt the Governor himself would deny this.”

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