1956 Washington gubernatorial election

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Washington gubernatorial election, 1956

← 1952 November 6, 1956 1960 →
  Albert D. Rosellini (cropped).jpg Lieutenant Governor Anderson, 1955 (cropped).jpg
Nominee Albert Rosellini Emmett T. Anderson
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 616,773 508,041
Percentage 54.6% 45.0%

Washington gubernatorial election 1956.svg
County results

Governor before election

Arthur B. Langlie

Elected Governor

Albert Rosellini

The Washington gubernatorial election of 1956 took place on November 6, 1956, between Democratic state senator Albert D. Rosellini and Republican lieutenant governor Emmett T. Anderson.

Rosellini defeated Anderson during the general election, becoming the first Italian American to lead a U.S. state west of the Mississippi River. Incumbent Republican governor Arthur B. Langlie declined to run for a fourth term, instead challenging Warren Magnuson for a U.S. Senate seat.

Primary election[edit]

Incumbent governor Arthur B. Langlie, a Republican who had served three terms, announced on May 2 that he would not run for a fourth term and instead challenge Warren Magnuson for one of the state's U.S. Senate seats.[1] Langlie made no public endorsement for a Republican candidate, but privately supported congressman Thor C. Tollefson prior to the announcement.[2] Tollefson would later drop out of the gubernatorial race by the end of the month and pursue another congressional term, leaving Lieutenant Governor Emmett T. Anderson and Attorney General Don Eastvold as the remaining Republican frontrunners.[3]

Albert D. Rosellini, a Democratic state senator from South Seattle, announced his candidacy on May 24, proposing a state department of commerce, industrial regulations, diversification of jobs and industries, a second Lake Washington bridge, and toll-free superhighways.[4] Rosellini, a New Deal liberal Democrat who had been named leader of the state's Democratic Senate Caucus, publicly opposed Langlie during his three terms as governors and often butted heads with the former Seattle mayor. After missteps during his 1952 bid for governor, Rosellini was left to run in the 1956 race using his own funds.[5]

State Secretary of State Earl Coe, another Democrat, joined the race in early July and became Rosellini's biggest challenger for the Democratic nomination.[6] By the filing deadline in July, the field of candidates grew to nine, with Democratic state senator Roderick A. Lindsay of Spokane joining the race.[7] Prior to the primary, Anderson emerged as a Republican favorite among former Langlie supporters, while Democrats Coe and Rosellini were expected to split a contentious vote.[8]

During the September 11 blanket primary, Rosellini and Anderson won the right to advance to the general election, with comfortable margins in early returns.[9] Coe formally endorsed Rosellini on September 26, citing a preference to avoid "past stalemates" and encouraging voters to give majority control of the legislature to the Democrats.[10]


Democratic Party[edit]

Republican Party[edit]

  • Emmett T. Anderson, lieutenant governor
  • Ralph E. Bohnke
  • Roy DeGrief
  • Don Eastvold
  • Thomas C. Hall
  • John E. Lydon

Primary election results[edit]

Governor of Washington primary election, September 11, 1956[11]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Albert D. Rosellini 236,291 31.62
Republican Emmett T. Anderson 192,500 25.76
Democratic Earl Coe 140,882 18.86
Republican Don Eastvold 99,020 13.25
Democratic Roderick Lindsay 39,072 5.23
Republican Thomas C. Hall 12,304 1.65
Republican Roy DeGrief 11,592 1.55
Democratic John C. Edwards 8,030 1.07
Republican John E. Lydon 3,933 0.53
Republican Ralph E. Bohnke 3,514 0.47

General election[edit]

Henry Killman was nominated by the Socialist Labor Party of America in September and approved by the Secretary of State as the only minor party in the governor's race.[12]

Rosellini spent much of his campaigning proposing improvements to the state's institutions, including prisons and schools, while attacking the Langlie administration. Anderson, by contrast, made few promises and touted his qualifications as lieutenant governor.[13]

On November 6, Rosellini won the governorship and promised to promote bipartisanship and select state employees on merit rather than political qualifications.[14] Anderson formally conceded to Rosellini the following morning, congratulating him on his victory and thanking his supporters.[15]

General election results[edit]

Governor of Washington general election, November 6, 1956[11]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Albert D. Rosellini 616,773 54.63
Republican Emmett T. Anderson 508,041 45.00
Socialist Labor Henry Killman 4,163 0.37


  1. ^ Cunningham, Ross (May 2, 1956). "Langlie to run for U.S. Senate". The Seattle Times. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Langlie Makes No Choice For Governor". The Seattle Times. May 2, 1956. p. 2.
  3. ^ "Tollefson Out Of Governor Race; to Seek Re-election". The Seattle Times. May 26, 1956. p. 1.
  4. ^ Cunningham, Ross (May 24, 1956). "State Should Attract More Diversified Industry, Rosellini Tells Demo Rally". The Seattle Times. p. 15.
  5. ^ Crowley, Walt (January 30, 2003). "Rosellini, Albert Dean (1910-2011)". HistoryLink. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  6. ^ "4 Candidates For Governor File Early". The Seattle Times. July 2, 1956. p. 12.
  7. ^ "9 Candidates Now in Race For Governor". The Seattle Times. July 20, 1956. p. 5.
  8. ^ Cunningham, Ross (September 10, 1956). "Great Barrage Of Appeals Hits Voters On Eve of Primary". The Seattle Times. p. 6.
  9. ^ Cunningham, Ross (September 12, 1956). "Demos Make Heavy Gains in State Vote". The Seattle Times. p. 1.
  10. ^ "Coe Backs Rosellini For Governor". The Seattle Times. September 26, 1956. p. 11.
  11. ^ a b "Elections Search Results: November 1956 General and September 1956 Primary". Secretary of State of Washington. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  12. ^ "Socialist Labor Ticket O. K'd". The Seattle Times. October 5, 1956. p. 33.
  13. ^ Cunningham, Ross (October 25, 1956). "Either Could Win as Anderson, Rosellini Race Nears Finish". The Seattle Times. p. 8.
  14. ^ "Rosellini Makes Bipartisan Plans". The Seattle Times. November 6, 1956. p. 2.
  15. ^ "Anderson Concedes to Rosellini". The Seattle Times. November 7, 1956. p. A.

External links[edit]