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  Sanders, Carl E.
NameCarl E. Sanders
Augusta, Georgia , United States
Born May 15, 1925
DiedNovember 16, 2014 (89 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedIndyGeorgia
May 20, 2020 12:23pm
InfoCarl Edward Sanders, Sr. was born in Augusta, Georgia on May 15, 1925. He attended the Academy of Richmond County and received the alternate appointment to West Point. He found himself at the University of Georgia, however, where he accepted a football scholarship. In 1943, before he could finish his college education, he enlisted in the Air Force and trained as a B-17 pilot. After World War II he returned to the University, finishing three years of law school in two years and passing the bar in 1947. That same year he married Betty Foy of Statesboro, Georgia.

Sanders entered private practice in Augusta and eventually started the law firm of Sanders, Thurmond, Hester and Jolles. In 1954, he made a successful bid for the Georgia House of Representatives. Two years later, in 1956, he won a seat in the Georgia Senate. At the time, the seat rotated between Richmond, Glascock and Jefferson counties. Sanders was subsequently elected to the same seat by both Jefferson and Glascock counties due to his overwhelming popularity, becoming the only man to serve three consecutive terms in a multi-county district. In 1959, Governor Vandiver named Sanders as Senate Floor Leader. He went on to serve as president pro tempore of the Senate from 1960-1962.

Sanders took the next step in his political career by running for governor in 1962 against Marvin Griffin. Shortly after his announcement, federal courts ruled that Georgia's county unit system was unconstitutional. The state would elect its officials by popular vote, giving the urban candidate, Sanders, a greater chance at victory.
As a moderate concerning racial issues, he faced an outspoken opponent of integration in former-Governor Griffin. While agreeing that Georgia should keep its tradition of segregation, Sanders believed it was imperative that the state avoid violence and obey the laws of the country. Unlike Griffin, his campaign issues were not built around race. Instead, Sanders focused on the elimination of corruption in state government and pushed for overall progress for the state. He also wanted to improve education and bring industry to Georgia. With his positive campaign, Sanders emerged victorious, making him the youngest governor in the country at the time. He was 37.

Upon his election, Sanders set about following through on his campaign promises. In order to revitalize Georgia's educational system, the new governor created the Governor's Commission to Improve Education in 1963. Based on the commission's findings and with the General Assembly's approval, Sanders improved education a great deal. His program raised teacher salaries, added new teachers to the system, and reorganized the Department of Education. It also built new school buildings, established more junior colleges and vocational schools and created the Governor's Honors Program. Sanders also appointed the Governor's Commission for Efficiency and Improvement which helped to reform many government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Highway Department, as well as the prison and state merit systems.

In May, 1963, Sanders sought to draft a new state constitution. With the appointment of the Constitutional Revision Commission, he hoped to condense and clarify Georgia's Constitution. While the General Assembly approved the new constitution, it was never put on the general ballot. The momentum was lost when federal courts declared that the General Assembly was incorrectly apportioned and the constitution was, therefore, invalid. Sanders would later play an integral part in the passage of the reapportionment of congressional districts, but would never succeed in revising the constitution.

Sanders appointed many blacks to state government jobs, but civil rights were never a pressing issue for the governor. He did, however, testify against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, being especially opposed to the section regarding public accommodations. Despite this, he greatly improved Georgia's image, giving the state a more moderate, law-abiding reputation.

Sanders could not succeed himself as governor and, therefore, retired back into private life. Instead of returning to Augusta, he and his family remained in Atlanta where he started a new law firm. On April 25, 1970, Sanders reemerged to announce for what would be his last attempt at public office. His campaign for governor, however, ended in defeat, with Jimmy Carter taking office. Sanders never ran for public office again but worked for many other Democratic candidates such as Zell Miller, Andrew Young, and Sam Nunn. He also went on to serve as Finance Chairman for the Democratic Party during George Busbee's term as governor.




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  09/23/1970 GA Governor - D Runoff Lost 40.58% (-18.84%)
  09/09/1970 GA Governor - D Primary Won 37.77% (+0.00%)
  11/06/1962 GA Governor Won 99.95% (+99.89%)
  09/12/1962 GA Governor - D Primary Won 58.07% (+19.03%)
GA US President - D Primary - Mar 13, 1984 D Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings