Friday, July 5, 2013

Eliminating the Opposition

"Low Tax" Looper was a Tennessee politician who had an interesting career.

He attended West Point for two years; and later ran for the Georgia House of Representatives as a Democrat.  He lost.

Moving to Tennessee, he joined the Republican Party in 1992.  In his first political foray, he lost in a race for the House.  However, he later won in a race for Putnam County Assessor, defeating an encumbent with a very negative campaign and an absence of public appearances.

His performance as a tax assessor was dubious; seldom showing up for work and having irregularities in tax assessments. 

The Republican Party dropped him like a turd.  However, he ran for the State Senate, and happened to be the only Republican on the ballot to run against the well-entrenched Democratic Candidate, Tommy Burks.

Two weeks before the election, Tommy Burks was found shot dead in his automobile, and the killer was identified as his opponent, Byron Looper.

Because Tennessee state law required that the name of a candidate who died before the election be removed from the ballot and would not allow the candidate's party to replace a deceased candidate who died within 30 days of the election, Looper became the only candidate listed on the official ballot for the senate seat.

Charlotte Burks, the widow of Tommy Burks, mounted a write-in candidacy for her husband's seat.  Her write-in campaign got massive support from volunteers of both parties. 

She won the election, with 30,252 votes to Looper's 1,531.

 One of her first initiatives as state senator was to introduce legislation to ensure that the name of any candidate who dies within 40 days of an election could remain on the ballot, thus preventing the situation that occurred after her husband's death.

Charlotte Burks remains in the state senate, having won re-election in 2002, 2006, and 2010.

"Low Tax" Looper was convicted of murder and spent the rest of his life in the Tennessee State Prison, where he  died in 2013.,_Tennessee


  1. This started off like a joke. But then it seems Looper was a joke.

  2. I googled his name. No joke at all. Incredibly sad event.

  3. Guess he forgot the part about not getting caught...

  4. Here's something for my favorite Tennessee blogger. I worked with Calling Glory at a camp last year. This is by two of them:

  5. He recently died, according to the link at the bottom. Not likely to be missed.

  6. I love your stories of strange Tennessee politics. It makes me feel better about living in DC.