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Duval County Democratic leader shot, opening door for Parr dynasty

December
20
1907

On this day in 1907, Duval County tax assessor and Democratic leader John Cleary was killed by a shotgun blast while sitting in a San Diego restaurant. His assassin escaped as local lawmen were enjoying a fiesta, which they claimed had drowned out the sound of the shooting. Texas Rangers later arrested three men in connection with the assassination, but they were never convicted. Cleary's assassination came shortly after he had engineered a sweeping guarache triumph over the bota faction in the county elections, and opened the Duval County Democratic leadership to Archer Parr, thereby beginning perhaps the most remarkable and notorious political dynasty in Texas. Under the firm control of Archer Parr and his son George, the "Duke of Duval," the county gained a reputation for political corruption that peaked with Lyndon B. Johnson's election to the United States Senate in 1948, in which George Parr almost certainly directed the manipulation of returns that gave Johnson his eighty-seven-vote victory.

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