Frank Merriam, California’s REALTOR® Governor

Thismonth0804_smAPRIL 2008 — In April 1955, California REALTORS® were saddened by the loss of “Governor Frank.” From 1934 to 1939 Frank F. Merriam was also known as the “REALTOR Governor.” Lieutenant Governor Merriam became the state’s chief executive in June 1934 after James Rolph, Jr. died in office. In an election just five months later the nation would watch Republican Merriam’s challenge by writer Upton Sinclair, the Democratic candidate.

Sinclair’s famous EPIC movement included tax increases on real estate, leading the California Real Estate Association’s Board of Directors to adopt a resolution endorsing Governor Merriam. “We feel that if he (Sinclair) is elected Governor, business conditions will be demoralized and the welfare of every citizen in the State of California, jeopardized.” CREA policy had been not to endorse political candidates, but this election was seen as “a choice between our present form of government and a socialistic or communistic form.”

The November issue of California Real Estate Magazine trumpeted the news of Merriam’s election. “As in the 60’s when partisanship gave way to the ticket for the Union so in 1934, the Democrats and Republicans alike joined hands at the polls.” Looking forward to January’s inauguration, the magazine noted “It is believed that this will be one of the most auspicious events in the State’s colorful history. A large number of Realtors will attend.”

Four years later CREA again stood behind Merriam in his bid for re-election. This time Democratic State Senator Culbert L. Olson won the office.

“Governor Frank” was a friend to California REALTORS® for the rest of his life, installing the presidents and officers of CREA for almost twenty years. When he could not attend the Association’s 1955 inaugural three months before his death, a redwood grove was dedicated as a living memorial to him.

  1. Curt

    Would anyone be interested in the diary of Senator Walter T McGovern 1935 the first six months. Names like Merriam, Hatfield, Fellom and many more. I can send pictures of these book as well as transcripts from the Senator’s many trials as he was also a prominent attorney. I assure all material is real and authentic. email me if interested