The wily Augusta lawyer never became governor, but was a Georgia "kingmaker" for decades until his death in 1985. Harris' state base of power was as speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives -- until 1946 when he was defeated by Chronicle owner William Morris. His Augusta power base was through the Cracker Party and, later, his Democratic "South Augusta mafia" political machine.
In the 1930s he was known as the architect of the state's modern public school system through his "Minimum Foundation" law that equalized educational opportunities, through a sales tax, and boosted teacher salaries. A fiery orator, he promulgated segregationist views in his Augusta Courier tabloid, and was well known during the 1960s as a top adviser to third-party presidential candidate George Wallace.