About Clyde L. Herring, Governor, U.S. Senator
Clyde LaVerne Herring (May 3, 1879 – September 15, 1945), an American politician and Democrat, served as the 26th Governor of Iowa, and then one of its U.S. Senators, during the last part of the Great Depression and the first part of World War II.
He was born in 1879 and raised in Jackson County, Michigan, where he attended public schools. His parents farmed until he was 14 years old, the year of the "Panic of 1893," when failing finances made it necessary for them to move to town. In 1897, at age 18, he moved to Detroit, Michigan and became a jewelry clerk.
Enlisting in the military, he served during the Spanish-American War as a private in Company D of the Third Michigan Regiment.
After the war he moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he engaged in ranching from 1902 to 1906. He then moved to Massena, Iowa, where he farmed for two years (1906–1908).
As Time Magazine would recount in a 1935 cover story featuring Herring, "in Detroit he had fixed Henry Ford's watch, thus came to know that rising automobile manufacturer. From 1910 until the distributing system was reshuffled after the War, Clyde Herring was Ford agent for Iowa. By that time he had acquired $3,000,000 worth of Des Moines real estate."
In 1916-17, he served with the Iowa National Guard on the Mexican border. Returning to civilian life in Des Moines as America entered the First World War, Herring led local fundraising efforts as the chair of the Greater Des Moines Committee, and was invited to Washington to advise the federal government on speeding up production of war supplies.
Herring was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Governor of Iowa in 1920 (losing to Republican Nathan E. Kendall), and for the United States Senate in a 1922 special election (losing to Republican Smith W. Brookhart). He held one of Iowa's seats on the Democratic National Committee from 1924 to 1928.
In 1932, Herring ran again for Governor of Iowa, this time against incumbent Republican Daniel Webster Turner. That year Herring and other Democratic candidates in Iowa won an unprecedented number of races, and Herring became only the second Democrat to serve as Governor of Iowa since the founding of the Republican Party in 1854. In a 1934 rematch, Herring again defeated Turner, while leading a Democratic sweep of statewide offices and keeping Democrats in six of Iowa's nine U.S. House seats.
In 1936, his fourth year as governor, Herring chose not to run for re-election but instead challenged incumbent Republican U.S. Senator L. J. Dickinson. Herring defeated Dickinson by fewer than 36,000 votes. For the first time since 1855, Democrats held both of Iowa's seats in the U.S. Senate. His service as Senator was slightly delayed to await the end of his term as Iowa's Governor.
Herring's reaction to Orson Welles' 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast received national attention. In order to protect listeners, he urged adoption of federal legislation "inducing" broadcasters to first submit radio programming to the Federal Communications Commission before it could be aired. He declared that "radio has no more right to present programs like that than someone has to come knocking on our door and screaming." No such legislation was adopted.
At the 1940 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Herring aspired to be picked as Franklin D. Roosevelt's vice-presidential candidate, but Roosevelt and the Convention instead nominated fellow Iowan Henry A. Wallace, who had served as Roosevelt's Secretary of Agriculture.
Herring served only a single term as Senator, and failed in his first re-election bid. President Roosevelt's popularity in Iowa had waned after 1936, and fewer and fewer Democratic candidates won re-election. In addition, disagreements or rivalries between Herring and other leading Iowa Democrats, including fellow Senator Guy M. Gillette, former governor Nelson G. Kraschel, and Vice-President Henry Wallace, hampered party unity. Herring was defeated by Iowa's Republican Governor, George A. Wilson. Herring was the last of the successful 1932 Democratic candidates in Iowa to lose a re-election bid.
After serving in the Senate, he returned to the automobile business, and was named by President Roosevelt as the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Price Administration, the wartime price regulatory agency.
Herring died in Washington, D.C. on September 15, 1945. He is interred at the Glendale cemetery in Des Moines, Iowa.