1971 United States gubernatorial elections

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United States gubernatorial elections, 1971

← 1970 November 2, 1971;
February 1, 1972 (LA)
1972 →

3 governorships
  Majority party Minority party
Party Democratic Republican
Last election 29 governorships 21 governorships
Seats before 29 21
Seats after 30 20
Seat change Increase1 Decrease1

1971 Gubernatorial election map.svg
  Democratic holds
  Democratic pickups

United States gubernatorial elections were held in three states.

In Mississippi and Kentucky, general elections took place on 2 November 1971. In Louisiana, their general election took place on 1 February 1972 after the party primaries on 6 November 1971 and a Democratic primary runoff on 18 December 1971. In Louisiana, this was the last gubernatorial election which didn't use the nonpartisan blanket primary system.

In Mississippi and Louisiana, there were no party changes (in both cases, from Democrat to Democrat). In Kentucky, there was a Democratic gain.

In Kentucky, Louie B. Nunn wasn't allowed to run for a second term under the term limits rule at the time, a rule that was changed in 1992.[1]

In Mississippi, John Bell Williams was also barred from a second term under the term limits rule at the time, a rule that was changed in the mid-1980s.[2]

In Louisiana, John McKeithen had been allowed a second term due to a new rule enacted that allowed governors two consecutive terms, and thus was allowed to run for a second term (see Louisiana gubernatorial election, 1967).[3] Thus, when the 1971 race rolled around, he too was term-limited.

Election results[edit]

A bolded state name features an article about the specific election.

State Incumbent Party Status Opposing candidates
Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Republican Term-limited, Democratic victory Wendell H. Ford (Democratic) 50.56%
Thomas Emberton (Republican) 44.35%
A.B. "Happy" Chandler (Independent) 4.24%
William Smith (American) 0.85%
Louisiana John McKeithen Democratic Term-limited, Democratic victory Edwin Edwards (Democratic) 57.2%
David Treen (Republican) 42.8%
Mississippi John Bell Williams Democratic Term-limited, Democratic victory William L. Waller (Democratic) 77.02%
Charles Evers (Independent) 22.13%
Charles L. Sullivan (Independent) 0.85%


  1. ^ "Kentucky Constitution Section 71". Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Gov.-elect Bryant's 8 appointments could impact college board". 22 November 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  3. ^ Honan, William (5 June 1999). "J. J. McKeithen, 81, Governor Of Louisiana, 1964 to 1972". nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2013.