Interview with Walter D. Huddleston, January 9, 2002

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:13 - First state legislative session

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When I was chairman of the social s, s, concerns committee of the local Methodist Church, I got a change in the charter that permitted blacks or all people to become members of the church.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses ways he prepared for the state legislative session in Frankfort, Kentucky after his election to state Senate in 1966. He also discusses what happened at pre-legislative session conferences at Kentucky Lake and inter-party tensions.

Keywords: Bert T. Combs; Dissidence; Governors; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Legislative sessions; Majority leaders; Majority parties; Ned Breathitt; Political engagement; Political involvement; State legislatures; State senates

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-2003; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Democratic Party (Ky.); Frankfort (Ky.); Kentucky Lake (Ky. and Tenn.); Kentucky--Politics and government.; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Pre-Legislative Conference; Republican Party (Ky.); Waterfield, Harry Lee, 1911-1988

00:06:54 - Post-election reactions / Attorneys in Kentucky legislature

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Did--I assume, uh--of course you knew Governor Breathitt and I assume that, uh, after your election, he called you and congratulated you--I assume that, I sort of assume that you went to Frankfort and maybe met with him before you went to the legislature.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about receiving congratulatory messages after his election to state senate in 1966. Huddleston talks about the concentration of attorneys in state legislature at the time of his service and what it was like to be one of the few non-attorneys.

Keywords: Congratulations; Congratulatory messages; Ned Breathitt; Political demographics; Political victories; State elections; State legislatures; State senates; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-2003; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-2015; Frankfort (Ky.); Kentucky--Governors; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate

00:09:20 - More on first state legislative session

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So you--when you met at, uh, Kentucky Lake, you were satisfied with the leadership that emerged from that and, uh, did they go ahead and make the committee appointments at that time?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses more activities that took place during pre-legislative conferences and how those conferences have changed over time. He discusses receiving preparatory materials for the session and his attitudes going into his first session.

Keywords: Committee selection; Legislative processes; Legislative proposals; Legislative sessions; Preparations; Senate leadership; Senate majority leaders; State legislatures; State senates

Subjects: Frankfort (Ky.); Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Legislative bills; Legislative materials.; Political leadership.

00:11:21 - Gambling legislation

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Governor Breathitt had me appointed to the Government Operations Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston talks about an investigation and subsequent legislation concerning pinball machines and illegal gambling. He discusses attitudes towards gambling business in Kentucky and consequences of passing this legislation.

Keywords: Congressional investigations; Gambling addiction; Gambling laws; Government Operations Committee; Illegal gambling; Pinball machines; School officials; Slot machines; Steve Henry; Students

Subjects: Gambling--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Gambling.; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. General Assembly. Legislative Research Commission; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate

00:16:16 - Civil rights legislation

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's go back to the, to the civil rights issue because that was so big and now history--(clears throat)--is looking back at that and it's a very complicated, uh, uh, sort of story here in Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses an executive order passed by former Governor Bertram Thomas "Bert" Combs to desegregate all public accommodations in Kentucky. Huddleston talks about Louie Nunn's stark opposition to the executive order and, later, Edward Thompson "Ned" Breathitt, Jr.'s conflict over passing a civil rights bill. Huddleston talks about key figures in Kentucky civil rights legislation.

Keywords: Bert T. Combs; Church charters; Civil rights bills; Civil rights legislation; Desegregation; Elections; Executive orders; John Y. Brown; Louie Nunn; Methodist Church; Ned Breathitt; Persuasion; Political influence; Political power; Speakers of the House

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky; Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-2003; Brown, John Young, 1900-1985; Civil rights.; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Legislation.; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004

00:25:16 - Strip mining legislation

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What makes this period so interesting, Senator, is that you not only had civil rights legislation but you had strip mining legislation and that was another--(Huddleston coughs)--very contentious--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston commends Breathitt and Ford for their role in passing restrictive strip mining legislation. He talks about the legislation's effect on statewide races and reactions from mining companies.

Keywords: Coal mining; Legal restrictions; Mining companies; Mining industry; Ned Breathitt; Political races; Restrictions; State legislatures; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-2003; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-2015; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Strip mining; Strip mining--Law and legislation

00:27:58 - American politics / Budget for teachers

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You know it's, uh--that's what's so fascinating about the American political process...

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston and Birdwhistell discuss the dangers of engaging in too much political progressivism at once. Huddleston recalls a major budget shortfall during Breathitt's time as governor, causing teachers to go on strike and almost walk out on their jobs. Huddleston discusses other effects of the budget shortfall and how Breathitt handled it as governor.

Keywords: Administrative control; Budget estimates; Budget revisions; Budget shortfalls; Economic issues; Educational policy; Legislative control; Louie Nunn; Ned Breathitt; Political issues; Progressive leadership; Progressivism (United States politics); Social issues; State budgets; Teacher strikes; Voting trends

Subjects: American politics and political economy; Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-2003; Budget--United States--States; Education and state.; Education--Kentucky; Frankfort (Ky.); Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Kentucky. Governor (1963-1967 : Breathitt); Kentucky. Governor (1967-1971 : Nunn); Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Teachers.

00:34:23 - Ned Breathitt

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Because of, uh, the dissension or the lack of control of the legislature in sixty--(clears throat)--in '64 session, and then because of the turmoil in the '66 session of these issues and then the budget shortfall and the teacher thing, there was, uh, uh--I think Governor Breathitt, um, contemporary ob, observers and in some ways historians have looked at him as sort of a weak governor in the sense that it was sort of out of control and it was wobbly--(Huddleston laughs)--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses Edward Thomas "Ned" Breathitt's impact and reputation as Kentucky governor.

Keywords: "Pollyanna syndrome"; Budget shortfalls; Financial instability; Financial problems; Foster Ockerman; Ned Breathitt; Party conflicts; Party tensions; Political impacts; Political reputations; Political turbulence; Political turmoil; Reputations; Teacher protests; Teacher strikes

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-; Budgets--United States--States; Governors--Kentucky.; Kentucky. Governor (1963-1967 : Breathitt); Ockerman, Foster, 1952-

00:38:12 - Harry Lee Waterfield

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What about, uh, what about Harry Lee Waterfield's role in all of this?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston expresses his respect for Waterfield and remorse over Waterfield's political career. Huddleston talks about Waterfield's relationship with Kentucky Commissioner of Commerce Katherine Peden and Waterfield's accomplishments.

Keywords: Commissioner of Commerce; Friendliness; Happy Chandler; Harry Lee Waterfield; Katherine Peden; Kentucky politicians; Legislative Research Commission; Personality; Political competition; Political dynamics; Political identity; Political relationships

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-2015; Kentucky--Politics and government.; Kentucky. General Assembly; Lieutenant governors; Peden, Katherine G.

00:45:46 - Henry Ward

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Now there's another, uh, very interesting player in the--in this administration: Henry Ward.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes Henry Ward's reputation and diplomacy in politics. Huddleston and Birdwhistell discuss the importance of personality in policy development and politics.

Keywords: Administrations; Administrative leadership; Department of Highways; Henry Ward; Highway commissioners; Katherine Peden; Leadership; Leadership skills; Political campaigns; Political dynamics; Political incentives; Political relationships

Subjects: Diplomacy.; Kentucky--Politics and government.; Kentucky. Transportation Cabinet; Peden, Katherine G.; Personalities and powers; Ward, Henry, 1909-2002

00:48:33 - Election ballot in 1967

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So--(coughs)--you get through the '66, uh, session and, uh, you get your civil rights bill, you get your strip mining legislation, you get the money to the teachers, you sort of balance the budget, you know, for the time being, and everything sort of stabilized in a sense--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston recalls which politicians ran for various positions in office in the 1967 elections. He talks about what his opinions were on each candidate, who he wished ran for each position, and what his predictions were on whether or not the Democratic nominees would win offices.

Keywords: Bert T. Combs; Bob Matthews; Democratic nominees; Gubernatorial elections; Happy Chandler; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown; Kentucky elections; Legislative sessions; Party tickets; Political appeal; Political support; Robert Foster Matthews Jr.; Senate races; State elections; Voting; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Brown, John Y., Jr. (John Young), 1933-; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Cooper, John Sherman, 1901-1991; Democratic Party (Ky.); Ford, Wendell H., 1924-2015; Governors; Governors--Election.; Kentucky--Politics and government.; Lieutenant governors

00:59:30 - Tensions between Democrats and Republicans in office

Play segment

Partial Transcript: 'Course all the other Democrats get elected.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes working dynamics between a primarily Democratic state legislature and Republican governor, Louie Nunn, in 1967. He recalls the state legislative session of 1968. He describes how Nunn responded to push back from Democrats.

Keywords: Bill Wester; Budgeting; Caucus chairmen; Compromise; Cooperation; Financial conditions; Fundraising; Job experience; Joe Leary; Joseph J. Leary; Leadership; Legislative sessions; Louie Nunn; Party tensions; Personalities; Political tensions; Sessions; State budgets; State legislative sessions; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Democratic Party (Ky.); Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Election.; Governors--Kentucky.; Kentucky--Politics and government; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Pre-Legislative Conference; Republican Party (Ky.)

01:07:06 - Governor Nunn addresses Kentucky's financial condition

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, so I--in my point of sharing that story I guess is that Nunn's trying to figure out--Governor Nunn's trying to figure out, you know, how he's going to--he's got several different things to balance here--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses how Governor Nunn raised money for Kentucky's budget. Huddleston discusses automobile inspection legislation, attitudes towards Governor Nunn's tax legislation, and using tax legislation to campaign against Nunn.

Keywords: Auto inspection laws; Auto inspection legislation; Automobiles--Inspection; Budget proposals; Federal funding; Federal mandates; Federal money; Financial conditions; Government initiatives; Government programs; Legacies; Louie Nunn; Personal legacies; Program funding; Sales taxes; State budgets; State finances; Tax laws

Subjects: Budget--United States--States; Economic development; Kentucky--Governors; Kentucky--Politics and government.; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Taxation--Law and legislation.

01:16:57 - Governor Nunn addresses other tough issues

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The, uh--another, um, another tough thing was the, uh, was the open housing legislation.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses how Governor Nunn handled open housing legislation, the Kent State Shooting student protests at the University of Kentucky, and redistricting.

Keywords: Campus security; Equal Rights Amendment (ERA); John Oswald; Legislative sessions; Louie Nunn; Majority leaders; Open housing; Open housing laws; Open housing legislation; Party conflicts; Party tensions; Redistricting; Sessions; State legislative sessions; Student protests; Student riots; Vetoes

Subjects: Discrimination in housing; Equal rights amendments--United States; Equal rights amendments.; Kent State Shootings, Kent, Ohio 1970.; Kentucky--Politics and government; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Oswald, John W. (John Wieland), 1917-1995; Universities and colleges--Security measures; University of Kentucky

01:23:35 - Personal career motivations / Experience being majority leader

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You know, this is, uh, this is your biography so, uh, uh, you know, we're talking a lot about the big issues and the interactions down there--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes his work's demand and payoff. He talks about his responsibilities to facilitate inter-party cooperation on the governor's most important issues as majority leader.

Keywords: Benefits; Career motivations; Career stakes; Louie Nunn; Majority leaders; Personal motivations; Personal stakes; Political compromises; Political leadership.; Salaries; State budgets; State legislatures

Subjects: Careers; Democratic Party (Ky.); Kentucky--Politics and government; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Republican Party (Ky.)

01:27:38 - Equal Rights Amendment in Kentucky

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Another big thing that, uh, we had, uh, after Ford was elected governor and I was majority leader was that, uh, Equal Rights Amendment, which was hotly contested--(clears throat).

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes the ratification and later rescinding of the Equal Rights Amendment in Kentucky. He discusses how Wendell Ford and Louie Nunn used the Equal Rights Amendment as a political tactic in their respective campaigns.

Keywords: Equal Rights Amendment (ERA); Gubernatorial races; Louie Nunn; Majority leaders; Political campaigns; Political tactics; Ratification; Rescinding; State reception; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Equal rights amendments--Kentucky; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Kentucky--Politics and government; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004

01:29:42 - Bert Combs runs against Wendell Ford for governor

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When, when you all are laying the groundwork for, uh, Senator Ford's race for governor, what do you, what do you, uh--when do you find out or when do you sense that, uh, former Governor Combs is going to be a player in this?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes setting Wendell Ford up to run for governor of Kentucky. Huddleston describes what it was like to find out Bert Combs would also be running for governor. He describes early campaigning strategies and how Ford and Comb addressed their competition with each other.

Keywords: Advertisements; Bert T. Combs; Billboards; Campaign strategies; Early campaigning; Early tactics; Endorsements; Gubernatorial races; Personal discussions; Political advertising; Political campaigns; Political endorsements; Political races; Political strategies; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Election.; Kentucky--Governors; Kentucky--Politics and government

01:34:27 - Becoming Ford's state campaign chairman

Play segment

Partial Transcript: He had even talked to me about running--about being his lieutenant governor's candidate, uh.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses his hesitance about running for lieutenant governor due to finances. Huddleston talks about Julian Carroll's role in directing him to serve as campaign chairman instead and their work dynamic. He also talks about Ford's campaign team.

Keywords: Bill Wester; Campaign chairmanship; Campaign chairmen; Campaign staff; Campaign teams; Career advancements; J. R. Miller; Julian Carroll; Lieutenant governors.; Political advantages; State campaign chairmen; State senators; Tommy Preston; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Career moves; Carroll, Julian Morton, 1931-; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Election.; Kentucky--Politics and government; Legislators--United States.; United States. Congress. Senate.

01:39:27 - Wendell Ford in the Democratic primaries

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And, uh--so in, uh, in the, in the race against Combs, you sort of set the stage with this, uh, past versus the future--

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes how the campaign team approached Ford's gubernatorial race against Combs during the Democratic primaries. Huddleston talks about the role of money in the race, television debates, controversies on both sides, Ford's campaign personality, primary election night, and finding out about Ford's victory in the primaries.

Keywords: Bert T. Combs; Campaign budget; Campaign money; Campaign spending; Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Democratic primaries; Direct campaigning; Election victories; Media personalities; Media presentation; New media; Old school media; Personalities; Political competition; Political controversies; Political debates; Political rivalries; Political victories; Populism; Televised debates; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Election.; Kentucky--Politics and government; Political campaigns.; Primaries

01:51:37 - Wendell Ford in the general election

Play segment

Partial Transcript: As you, as you come out of that primary campaign then, are you able to bring Combs' people in for the, for the general election?

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes Ford's campaign leading up to the general election. He describes Ford's victory in the general election. He talks about garnering support for Ford from Combs' supporters.

Keywords: Anticlimactic; General elections; Party support; Political opponents; Political victories; Polling; Rival support; Tom Emberton; Wendell H. Ford

Subjects: Emberton, Tom; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Election; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government

01:54:50 - Deciding to run for United States Senate

Play segment

Partial Transcript: It was about the next day though that I started thinking about the U.S. Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston describes his personal motivations to run for United States Senate. Huddleston talks about preferring a legislative position over administration, timing, and luck.

Keywords: Career advancements; Career aspirations; Career opportunities; Career timing; John Sherman Cooper; Motivations; Personal aspirations; Political advancements; Political careers; Political hierarchies; U.S. senators

Subjects: Career moves; Careers; Cooper, John Sherman, 1901-1991; Kentucky--Politics and government; Legislators--United States.; United States. Congress. Senate.

01:58:22 - Katherine Peden

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I want to go back to that '68 Senate race.

Segment Synopsis: Huddleston discusses Peden's political career in Kentucky. He discusses all the roadblocks she faced as a woman in politics and how they were likely factors in her election losses. Huddleston talks about the Democratic Party's limited support for Peden.

Keywords: Foster Ockerman; Party support; Political campaigns; Political careers; Political races; Political successes; Political support; Senate races; Sexism in politics

Subjects: Democratic Party (Ky.); Kentucky--Politics and government; Ockerman, Foster, 1952-; Peden, Katherine G.; Sex discrimination against women; Sexism in political culture.; Sexism.; Women in politics.