Lieutenant Governor Robert Ballard Bailey, Class of 1908
Robert Ballard Bailey was a prominent early to mid-twentieth-century lawyer and political figure who served two terms in the state Senate and three terms as lieutenant governor of Arkansas. He frequently served as acting governor when the governor was out of state.
Bob Bailey was born on August 7, 1889, in Hindman, Kentucky. His father served as a district judge and acquired his early knowledge of law by accompanying his father to court. He later studied law under his father and attended Kentucky Wesleyan College in Winchester and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Bailey was admitted to practice law in Arkansas in 1912. He first ran for political office in 1914 as a Democratic candidate in an unsuccessful race for circuit clerk. In 1919, he was elected Russellville city attorney. Bailey was elected to the state Senate in 1922. In 1925, he was named Senate president pro tempore. He became first in the line to the governor’s office in 1928, when the position of lieutenant governor was vacant for ten months.
Bailey sponsored legislation dealing with insurance reform, highways, budget matters, and the state attorney general’s office.
In 1936, Bailey was the Democratic nominee in the race for lieutenant governor, and beat the Republican candidate by a wide margin. He was reelected in 1938 and 1940.
From 1937 to 1941, Bob Bailey served 240 days as acting governor because of the governor’s frequent travels outside the state. By all accounts, Bailey sought to make his days as acting governor uneventful for the state.
After his third term as lieutenant governor, Bailey returned to private practice, although he staged an unsuccessful campaign in 1952 for the office of Ninth District chancellor.
Bailey was active in many civic organizations. Early in his career, he was active in the Liberty Loan and Victory Loan drives during and immediately after World War I. Bailey was also a thirty-second degree Mason, a Shriner, and a member of the Rotary Club. He served on the School Board and was a member of the
Bailey died in December of 1957.