Winfield Dunn Looks Back

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In 1970, what has been called an “unthinkable victory” made Winfield Dunn Governor of Tennessee. Since Reconstruction, virtually all elected offices in the state had belonged to Democrats. While the state constitution did not allow governors to serve consecutive terms, for years, Buford Ellington and Frank Clement took turns in the office, maintaining what was in essence a single administration for almost two decades.

On paper, a Republican dentist who had never held elected position shouldn’t have had a chance in the governor’s race. But Winfield Dunn did win the office. What he found there was a culture where cars belonging to the governor’s friends were branded with special license plate numbers and money sometimes changed hands to seal political deals.

Dunn has published a political memoir of that time, From a Standing Start. WPLN’s Nina Cardona spoke with him about his rise to power, and what he considers one of the state’s most important political changes.

 

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WEB EXTRA: Winfield Dunn speaks about his heated 1970 campaign against John Jay Hooker, and the friendship that’s developed between the two men in recent years.

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