Howard Hollis Callaway – “Bo” to thousands of friends – lived an extraordinary life of public service and when he passed away this weekend after a long illness Georgia lost a man whose life witnessed the civil rights movement, the end of dynastic southern Democratic politics, the rise of southern Republicanism and the transition of his home state from sleepy southern to one with world class institutions and ideals.
Callaway represented Georgia in the U.S. Congress 1964-to-1966 and served as U.S. Army Secretary 1963-to-1976 under President Gerald Ford but the 1966 Georgia gubernatorial election is what often defines his career. In that election nearly a half century ago the Republican Callaway won the most general election votes, more than two Democrats.
Because he won a plurality and not a majority the election was thrown into the Legislature where Democrats would eventually select one of their own, Lester Maddox. The Legislature chose Maddox after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the General Assembly to select the state’s next governor, sealing Callaway’s loss in Georgia’s most famous gubernatorial election.
Almost three decades later, Callaway addressed the 1995 Georgia Public Policy Foundation Freedom Award Dinner. It was a rare moment on stage, the final public appearance together for Callaway, Senator Herman Talmadge and Judge Griffin Bell. Mr. Callaway was introduced by Tom Perdue. Further, Wikipedia has an outstanding biography of the man who became known as the father of Georgia’s Republican Party.