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November 4, 1952: Democrat William Marland Elected Governor

Governor William C. Marland (1918-1965)
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia
WV State Archives (WVSA)

On November 4, 1952, Democrat William Marland defeated Rush Holt to become West Virginia’s governor. For Holt, it was the virtual end of a once-promising political career.

The Weston native had burst onto the scene as a Democratic legislator in the early 1930s. In 1934, at age 29, he defeated incumbent Senator Henry Hatfield to become the youngest person ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Since senators must be 30 to serve, Holt had to wait nearly six months to take his seat.

Senator Holt soon ruffled feathers on both sides of the aisle. During the campaign, he’d been backed heavily by labor. Once in office, though, he voted against several prolabor bills and took on big industry, leading a congressional investigation into the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster in Fayette County.

Without labor or industry support, Holt lost the Democratic renomination in 1940. He returned to the state legislature for six years during the ’40s. In 1952, he ran as a Republican for governor against Attorney General Marland but was defeated. In 1954, Holt was again elected to the legislature but died a year later at age 49.

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