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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kirk Fordice
Kirk Fordice.jpg
61st Governor of Mississippi
In office
January 14, 1992 – January 11, 2000
LieutenantEddie Briggs
Ronnie Musgrove
Preceded byRay Mabus
Succeeded byRonnie Musgrove
Personal details
Born
Daniel Kirkwood Fordice Jr.

(1934-02-10)February 10, 1934
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedSeptember 7, 2004(2004-09-07) (aged 70)
Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
Resting placeParkway Memorial Cemetery, Ridgeland, Mississippi
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
(m. 1955; div. 1999)

Ann G. Creson
(m. 2000; div. 2003)
Children4
ProfessionBusinessman
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Army Reserve
Years of service1957–1959; 1959–1977
RankColonel
Battles/warsVietnam War

Daniel Kirkwood "Kirk" Fordice Jr. (February 10, 1934 – September 7, 2004), was an American politician and businessman who served as the 61st Governor of Mississippi from 1992 to 2000. His tenure was marked by racial tensions, an extramarital affair with his high school sweetheart, and a subsequent divorce from his wife of 44 years to marry her.[1] He was the first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction-era governor Adelbert Ames, who served from 1874 to 1876, and the first governor elected to two consecutive four-year terms (following a 1987 amendment to the state constitution).[2] Fordice was a staunch conservative, running on a pro-business, anti-crime, low-tax, family values platform.[3]

A successful businessman, Fordice took over his father's construction company and became a millionaire. He ran for governor in 1991 as a Republican, championing various conservative causes.

Although initially popular among voters, Fordice gained notoriety for his controversial statements. He opposed affirmative action, championed anti-crime programs, led welfare reform efforts, and proudly touted his conservative Christian views. Many non-white voters and impoverished or disadvantaged Mississippians protested against the Fordice administration. He was also criticized by environmentalists, who viewed Fordice as a denier of science.

Life and career

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Fordice studied engineering at Purdue University, becoming a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and earning a BS and MS in 1956 and 1957, respectively. After graduation he served with the United States Army as an engineer officer in the 1st Infantry Division for two years. He remained in the Army Reserve until 1977, retiring with the rank of colonel. Fordice settled in Vicksburg and began a career in heavy construction, eventually taking over the construction company of his father, Daniel Kirkwood Fordice Sr., and becoming a millionaire.

He won the governorship of Mississippi in the 1991 election, first winning the Republican primary against state auditor Pete Johnson and in the general election against Democratic incumbent Ray Mabus, who four years earlier had defeated the Republican businessman Jack Reed of Tupelo, 53 to 47 percent, until that time the best Republican gubernatorial showing in Mississippi during the 20th century.

Fordice was re-elected in 1995 against Democratic Mississippi secretary of state Dick Molpus. His second inauguration was on January 16, 1996. An outspoken conservative, Fordice advocated tax cuts, the abolishment of affirmative action, reductions in the welfare system, expanded capital punishment, tougher prison conditions and the building of more prisons.[4]

Fordice offended Jewish groups such as B'nai B'rith by referring to America as "a Christian Nation" during a Republican governors conference. South Carolina governor Carroll Campbell quickly offered a correction, adding "Judeo-" as a prefix to Christian, but Fordice snapped back that he meant what he said. He later apologized for any offense. Fordice refused to discuss any increase in public school pay rates across the state, even though Mississippi ranked 49th in the nation. When teachers discussed striking he ordered that any teacher who went on strike be immediately fired.[5]

In August 1996, Fordice signed an executive order banning recognition of same-sex marriages in Mississippi.[6] Lawmakers said then that they would back up the executive order with a law. In 2004, Mississippi voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and further banning recognition of same-sex marriages from other states and countries.[7][8]

Fordice said he would have quit his position of Governor while still in office, except that he did not want to give the Democratic candidate, Lieutenant Governor Ronnie Musgrove, any spot-light time of running the state before the actual election.[9] Musgrove won the election anyway and became Mississippi's next Governor.

Personal life

Extramarital affair

Fordice's tenure was roiled by an extramarital affair with his high school sweetheart Ann G. Creson, which led to his divorce from his wife of forty-four years, Pat Fordice. After leaving office, Fordice married Ann, but they later divorced.

Fordice received much scorn when he suddenly announced that he had "irreconcilable differences" with his wife in 1993; she claimed that she had no intention of getting a divorce, and they remained together. Additionally, in 1996, he was photographed eating lunch with a middle-aged woman. These two scandals were soon overshadowed by Fordice's other actions, and he came to national attention for supporting the impeachment of then-president Bill Clinton on moral grounds. In June 1999, the media reported Fordice's long-running extramarital affair with his high school sweetheart, Ann Creson, who had recently been widowed; they were photographed returning from a vacation together, and journalists reported that Fordice and Creson kissed and massaged each other's shoulders.[10] Fordice responded to the television reporter with harsh words: "you invade my privacy this way, six months from now, I'll whip your ass. You have no damn business playing these games."

Later that year, he announced that he was divorcing his wife of 44 years and the mother of his four children. In the divorce petition, Fordice claimed that he and his wife had been estranged for three years, even though they both lived in the Governor's mansion, and that he planned to marry Creson as soon as the divorce was finalized.[11] Pat Fordice condemned her husband's actions, issuing a formal statement reading "it is not fair for Governor Fordice to call upon her to calm the storms by making or adopting public announcements which run contrary to her true feelings ... [Pat Fordice] apologizes to the people of this state for being a partner in a marriage that has become a source of embarrassment for Mississippi."[12]

Just days after the divorce was finalized in early 2000, Fordice married Creson; they divorced in 2003. Fordice died in 2004, surrounded by his children and former wife; the two are interred beside each other with double markers.[13]

Retirement years and death

After retiring, Fordice settled in Madison, Mississippi. He died from leukemia in Jackson on September 7, 2004, at age 70.[14] Kirk and Pat Fordice, who reconciled shortly before his death, are interred with a double marker at Parkway Memorial Cemetery in Ridgeland.

References

  1. ^ "Kirk Fordice; Miss. Governor Stirred Controversy (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  2. ^ http://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/articles/265/index.php?s=articles&id=160
  3. ^ Smothers, Ronald. "A Two-Fisted Governor With a 'Foot in Mouth' Style". Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  4. ^ "Press, Politics and Consensus in New Old South". The New York Times. February 24, 1997.
  5. ^ "Rant, Listen, Exploit, Learn, Scare, Help, Manipulate, Lead". The New York Times. January 28, 1996.
  6. ^ "FindLaw for Legal Professionals – Law & Legal Information".
  7. ^ USA Today: Amendment banning gay marriage passes, usatoday.com; accessed February 3, 2017.
  8. ^ "Mississippi Governor Bans Same-Sex Marriage". The New York Times. August 24, 1996.
  9. ^ Jr, B. Drummond Ayres (August 29, 1999). "POLITICAL BRIEFING; Now, a New Episode Of the Fordice Saga" – via NYTimes.com.
  10. ^ "Changing Partners In Dixie". Washington Post. July 13, 1999. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  11. ^ "Fordices File for Divorce". AP News. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  12. ^ "Changing Partners In Dixie". Washington Post. July 13, 1999. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  13. ^ "Kirk Fordice; Miss. Governor Stirred Controversy (washingtonpost.com)". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  14. ^ "Kirk Fordice, 70, Former Governor of Mississippi, Dies". Associated Press. The New York Times. September 8, 2004. Retrieved October 15, 2019.

Sources

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jack Reed
Republican nominee for Governor of Mississippi
1991, 1995
Succeeded by
Michael Parker
Political offices
Preceded by
Ray Mabus
Governor of Mississippi
January 14, 1992 – January 11, 2000
Succeeded by
Ronnie Musgrove
This page was last edited on 29 January 2021, at 23:39
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