Roger Douglas Branigin was the 42nd governor of Indiana, serving from January 11, 1965, to January 13, 1969. A World War II veteran and well-known public speaker, Branigin took office with a Democratic general assembly, the first time since the Great Depression that Democrats controlled both the executive and legislative branches of the Indiana state government.
Branigin was a conservative Democrat who oversaw repeal of the state’s personal property taxes on household goods, increased access to higher education, and began construction of Indiana’s deep-water port at Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan. During his one term as governor, Branigin exercised his veto power one hundred times, a record number for a single term.
Branigin was the last Democrat to serve as governor of Indiana until Evan Bayh took office in 1989. In 1968 Branigin received national attention when he ran as a stand-in for Lyndon B. Johnson in Indiana’s Democratic presidential primary. Johnson dropped out of the race on March 31, 1968, but Branigin continued to run as a favorite son candidate against Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy. Branigin hoped his efforts would gain a stronger role for Indiana at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Branigin finished second in the primary to Kennedy. A
fter his term as governor ended, Branigin returned to Lafayette, where he resumed a private law practice and remained active in civic life, serving as president of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and the Harrison Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Branigin also served as a trustee for Franklin College, Purdue University, and the Indiana Historical Society.