On this day in Alabama history: Maryon Allen became U.S. senator

On this day in Alabama history: Maryon Allen became U.S. senator
Birmingham journalist Maryon Pittman Allen represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate in 1978 after the death of her husband, James B. Allen. Allen worked as a columnist for the Washington Post for many years after her brief stint in Congress. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, U.S. Senate)

June 1, 1978

On June 1, 1978, longtime U.S. Sen. Jim Allen of Alabama died and his widow, Maryon, was appointed by Gov. George Wallace to fill the term in Washington, D.C., until a special election that November. Maryon Pittman Allen, a Mississippi native, appeared a cinch to win her husband’s seat until she was interviewed by Sally Quinn of The Washington Post. Allen’s quotes seemed critical of the governor and his late wife, Lurleen, which upset Wallace supporters. Allen was forced into a runoff with state Sen. Donald Stewart, who then won in a landslide. After the defeat, she remained in Washington and became a columnist for The Post. She later returned to Birmingham and worked in public relations. She married Allen after first interviewing the then-lieutenant governor for The Birmingham News. She continued her news career after her husband was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968, winning honors from the Alabama Press Association for her weekly syndicated column, “Reflections of a News Hen.”

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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