After serving three two-year terms as mayor, Ben D. Brickhouse decided to follow the precedent of his predecessor Charles Taylor and seek a fourth term in the Democratic Primary of 1924. In the election for his third term, Brickhouse was unopposed. So it would have appeared that he was well-positioned for this fourth bid.
Early in his third term, Brickhouse had broken ranks with the Ku Klux Klan. At the time, the Klan controlled much of Democratic Party politics in Little Rock (and indeed all of Arkansas). Mayor Brickhouse did not appreciate local Klan leadership trying to dictate City appointments to him. Beaten but unbowed, the Klan sought someone to run for mayor. The candidate who was found was Pulaski County Judge Charles Moyer.
In October 1924, Moyer and Brickhouse both announced what everyone in Little Rock already knew, they would be seeking the Democratic nomination for Little Rock mayor. Traditionally, the primary was in December before the April general election (in which the Democratic nominee was usually unopposed). The Pulaski County Democratic Committee set the date for the election.
There was a bit of a surprise at the early November meeting of the Democratic Committee when it was announced the election would be in January. Neither Moyer nor Brickhouse nor their surrogates offered much comments on the change. But Arthur Jones, who announced at the meeting he too would be seeking the office of mayor, protested the change. The date was set for the later option.
However, a week later, the Committee met again and moved the elections back to the originally anticipated times. Several of the Committee members had been unaware of the proposed change. Upon further reflection (and likely conversations with candidates), they opted to reverse the earlier vote.
At the start of the race, Moyer talked about the need for better control of City finances, better parks, and improving the police and fire. Jones attacked the City’s police force and courts in general. He called Brickhouse a “double crosser” who got the City into debt and cannot get it out of it. About Moyer, Jones said he was reactionary, non-progressive, opposed women’s suffrage, and only improved roads for political purposes.
While Jones was in the race, and lobbed charges at both Brickhouse and Moyer, it really was a two-man faceoff. In fact, neither Moyer nor Brickhouse seemed to discuss Jones much at all.
The major issues in the campaign revolved around government debt and the Klan. Moyer accused Brickhouse of getting the City into debt and not paying with cash. Brickhouse countered that the County had more debt than Moyer claimed, and that any fiscal improvements at the County were due to others such as the County Treasurer. Further, Brickhouse stated he had inherited $1,000,000 in debt. But he gladly took ownership of the $750,000 in debt he had caused because that was the only way to improve the hospital and the parks. He also laid out plans for a zoo and a City swimming pool.
Moyer was openly backed by the Klan. Leadership of the KKK attacked Brickhouse. They said he had an attitude of ingratitude for the support he had previously received. Moyer did not distance himself from the Klan but remained personally silent about the organization or his affiliation with it. At one of his final rallies, a Moyer Glee Club sang. It was composed of Gus Blass department store employees and contained Jews, Catholics, and Klan members.
The Saturday before the Monday election, both Moyer and Brickhouse had parades on Main Street. In fact, there were so many people either in the parades or watching them, a retailer estimated he had lost $10,000 in Christmas sales that night.
In the end, the election was not close. Moyer won all of the City’s wards. His vote total was 5,534, while Brickhouse had 2,944. Jones received 100 votes. Moyer was unopposed in the April 1925 election.
Many of the Little Rock aldermen were disappointed by the outcome. Before taking office in April, Moyer met in private with the aldermen to try to assuage their concerns.