George Wallace, former Democratic governor of Alabama, was serving as “first gentleman” of his home state when he announced his intention to run for president as an independent in the 1968 election. Wallace had served one term as Alabama governor from 1963 to 1967 during which he made a short, unsuccessful presidential run in the 1964 Democratic primaries. Having failed in his efforts to amend the Alabama constitution so he could succeed himself, Wallace supported the successful 1966 gubernatorial candidacy of his wife Lurleen who pledged that her husband would continue to make the policy decisions in her administration.
A committed segregationist, Wallace ran in 1968 as the nominee of the American Independent Party, an anti-civil rights, pro-states’ rights party. Although he finished third behind Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, Wallace ran one of the more successful third-party campaigns in American history. He received 13.5% of the popular vote and won five states in the Electoral College, the last third-party candidate to win any electoral votes.
Wallace returned to the Democratic Party following his 1968 defeat. Paralyzed from the waist down by an assassination attempt in 1972 while seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, he served three more terms as governor of Alabama and entered the Democratic race a fourth time in 1976 winning three primaries before withdrawing.
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