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Calvin E. Wright

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Calvin Everett Wright (1909–1988) was a Democratic politician from Idaho. He was the state auditor and later Democratic nominee for Governor of Idaho in 1950. Wright was defeated by Republican Len Jordan.

Wright served as Idaho state auditor from 1939 to 1945. He was elected in 1938 and re-elected in 1940 and 1942. At that time Idaho had two-year terms for statewide offices.

During Wright's first term in office the Idaho Legislature passed legislation setting up an office of state comptroller and transferred many of the duties from the state auditor to this newly created office. Wright brought suit in Idaho District Court challenging the constitutionality of the act. After winning a judgement in his favor at the state District Court level, the case was appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. In a landmark decision handed down February 3, 1940, the case Wright v. Callahan (61 Idaho 167-183; 1940) found that the "... entire statute creating office of state comptroller (was) void for unconstitutionality of part, the essential purpose of which (was) to divest the state auditor of his constitutional powers and duties ..." The court also stated the "legislature may prescribe duties in addition to those prescribed by the Constitution, provided, those prescribed by the legislature do not conflict with the duties either expressly or impliedly prescribed by the Constitution."

During Wright's second and third term he implemented the first ever state accounting system.

Wright declined to run for a fourth term in 1944, expecting to be detailed to the postwar occupation of Germany. Wright then made a late entry into the Democratic Party primary as a candidate for Governor of Idaho. In a four-way primary Wright placed second with 10,003 votes or 31.8 percent of the total, finishing second to Charles C. Gossett with 12,557 votes or 39.8 percent. Gossett was elected governor in the November general election.

After several years in the private sector, Wright again ran for Governor of Idaho in 1950. He won the Democratic primary with 30,249 votes or 46.9 percent of the votes in a three-way primary, distancing former Governor Arnold Williams by 7,515 votes. Wright lost the general election to Len B. Jordan in November 107,642 to 97,150 or 52.5 to 47.7 percent.

In 1951 Wright was appointed by President Harry S. Truman as the Idaho Director of the Internal Revenue Service, a post that he held for 22 years until his retirement in 1973.

Wright was born January 29, 1909, in Herington, Kansas. His family moved to Idaho in the following decade and lived in Burley, Idaho. One of his boyhood acquaintances was Jack Simplot.

Calvin E. Wright married Gwendolyn Sathre, who gave birth to Thomas C. Wright on August 2, 1931. Thomas C. grew up to be the founder of The Wright Group, a prominent publisher of educational materials. Among the titles he published was the "Story Box", a reading series which pioneered the "whole language" approach to learning how to read. At one point, whole language materials were used in more than 200,000 classrooms nationwide. In 1994, the Wright Group was acquired by Chicago's Tribune Company for more than $100,000,000. Subsequently, Thomas C. Wright retired to devote himself to supporting philanthropic causes.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Harry C. Parsons
Idaho State Controller
1939–1945
Succeeded by
Ernest G. Hansen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Arnold Williams
Democratic Party nominee, Governor of Idaho
1950 (lost)
Succeeded by
Clark Hamilton


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