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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Divorced Politicians Are Increasingly Common

In a July 2 Clarion-Ledger piece on Congressman Chip Pickering's impending divorce, Sidney Salter writes: "Public divorces have plagued a number of Mississippi political families over the last quarter century. Prior to the election of Gov. Haley Barbour in 2003, the state's past three governors - Ronnie Musgrove, the late Kirk Fordice and Ray Mabus - all divorced after being elected governor."

This statement could be interpreted to mean that all three were divorced while in office, when in reality, only Musgrove was. While Fordice and his wife Pat certainly had marital problems during his administration, their marriage did not end until after he had left office. And Mabus and his wife Julie did not split until some years after his governorship, following his stint as President Bill Clinton's ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

John Bell Williams, our last segregationist governor (1968-1972), was divorced from his wife Betty after he had returned to private life.

There were rumors-- which he denied-- that Gov. Cliff Finch's wife Zelda once shot him with a pistol during his administration, 1976-1980. They may have divorced after he left office, but I'm not certain about that. Finch, who ran briefly for president in 1980, drank literally 40-50 cups of coffee per day. In 1986, eyeing the 1987 governor's race, Finch died of a heart attack while pouring himself a cup of coffee in his Batesville law office. He was 59 years old.

Gov. Bill Allain (1984-1988) was divorced some years before he ever held elective office. Ironically, Allain defeated state Sen. Charles Pickering, father of Chip Pickering, in the 1979 race for attorney general.

Mike Espy, who represented District 2 in the U. S. House and later served as President Clinton's agriculture secretary, was divorced somewhere along the way.

Jon Hinson, first elected in 1978 to represent Jackson and southwest Mississippi in the U. S. House, had to resign after his homosexuality was exposed in 1981. Hinson and his wife Cynthia were later divorced, and he died from AIDS in 1995 at age 53.

Gaston Caperton, West Virginia's governor from 1989 to 1997, was divorced during his administration.

U. S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Arkansas, divorced his wife and married a member of his staff during his term of office. This hurt Hutchinson, an ordained Baptist minister, among conservative Christians and was a major factor in his loss to the Democrat Mark Pryor when Hutchinson sought a second term in 2002.

Closer to home, Buddy Roemer, governor of Louisiana from 1988 to 1992, was divorced while serving in that office. This surely didn't help him with the Bayou State's large Catholic population and must have contributed to his defeat in 1991.

In recent news, the current governor of Nevada was divorcing his wife and took legal steps to force her to move out of the governor's mansion.

So political figures-- whether in Mississippi or elsewhere-- are clearly not immune to marital breakups.


Blogger Conservative Belle said...

Excellent post. My jaw dropped when I read 40-50 cups of coffee a day. Wow.

I don't think people would be nearly as stunned about the divorces (and scandals) if these same politicians weren't such "family values" candidates, with support from those like Don Wildmon's AFA, etc...

I saw this one coming a little over a year ago.

Wed Jul 02, 02:30:00 PM CDT  

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