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Terry Carpenter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Terry Carpenter
Terry Carpenter (Nebraska Congressman).jpg
The Denver Post, April 15, 1934
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nebraska's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935
Preceded byAshton C. Shallenberger
Succeeded byHarry B. Coffee
Personal details
Born(1900-03-28)March 28, 1900
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
DiedApril 27, 1978(1978-04-27) (aged 78)
Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Terry McGovern Carpenter (March 28, 1900 – April 27, 1978) was a Nebraska politician.[1] Though he changed his party five times, he was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives and later served 22 years in the Nebraska Legislature. He also unsuccessfully ran for the Senate, Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska, and also unsuccessfully and then subsequently successfully for mayor of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Carpenter was also a successful businessman and founded the village of Terrytown, Nebraska.

Early life

Carpenter was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 28, 1900. He moved to Scottsbluff in 1916 and was employed in various capacities by a railroad company. From 1922 to 1923 he sold tobacco and candy, moving to Long Beach, California in 1923. There, he was the manager of the municipal gas and water department. He returned to Scottsbluff in 1927 where he worked in the garage business and the retail coal business.


Carpenter ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Scottsbluff, Nebraska in 1931, but the next year was elected to the Seventy-third Congress (March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935) as a Democrat for the 5th District. He did not run for reelection, since he was running for Governor of Nebraska in 1934. Failing to get the Democratic nomination, he next ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate but lost the election, coming in a distant third place with 18% of the vote, as he was running against the incumbent independent Republican George W. Norris and another Republican candidate. Norris won the election.

Carpenter continued to run for various offices unsuccessfully through the 1940s, but was a very successful businessman. He established the only gasoline refinery in Nebraska in Scottsbluff, with his own chain of gas stations in several states which created gas wars wherever they opened. He eventually sold this operation and started several new businesses.

Carpenter was a major in the United States Air Corps from 1942 to 1945 during World War II. He was elected mayor of Scottsbluff in 1947, but later stepped down due to perceived conflicts with his many businesses in the city. He founded a new village on the other side of the river from Scottsbluff in 1949 and called it Terrytown. He based his new businesses there, selling liquor by the drink before Scottsbluff did, starting a radio station, a drive-in movie theater, and two restaurants.

Carpenter changed political affiliation five times, being a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1956. He was successful in being elected to the state legislature in 1952 and served 22 years as a state senator.

In 1970, Carpenter conducted much-publicized legislative hearings against a gay studies course being offered at UNL. Carpenter considered homosexuality "a terrible disease" and believed that the college course would turn students gay.[2] Carpenter attempted to expose the names of students taking the course.[3] In 1971, he introduced legislation to prohibit courses pertaining to "aberrant" sexuality. It did not pass into law.[2]

During his legislative career, he also operated Terry Carpenter, Inc., in Terrytown. He retired in Scottsbluff, Nebraska where he died April 27, 1978. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Scottsbluff.

Campaign failures

Carpenter ran for but failed to be elected to the following offices:

  • Mayor of Scottsbluff in 1931
  • nomination for governor in 1934
  • United States Senate in 1936
  • lieutenant governor in 1938
  • governor in 1940
  • nomination to the United States Senate in 1942
  • United States Senate in 1948
  • nomination for governor in 1950
  • nomination to the United States Senate in 1954
  • nomination for governor in 1960
  • United States Senate in 1972
  • lieutenant governor in 1974

Campaign successes

Carpenter was elected to the following offices:

  • United States House of Representatives in 1932
  • Mayor of Scottsbluff in 1947 (but later stepped down)
  • Nebraska Legislature in 1952 (served through 1974)


  1. ^ Nebraska Legislature, The Official Site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature: Sen. Terry Carpenter,, accessed 5 Feb 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Senators kill bill limiting sexual studies". Lincoln Evening Journal. April 23, 1971. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  3. ^ Tetreault, Pat. "Forty years of history in the Heartland". Out History. Retrieved October 10, 2020.


  1. "Carpenter, Terry McGovern". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved January 15, 2006.
  2. "Carpenter, Terry McGovern". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved January 15, 2006.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ashton C. Shallenberger (D)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nebraska's 5th congressional district

March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935
Succeeded by
Harry B. Coffee (D)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gilbert Hitchcock
Democratic nominee for
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Nebraska

Succeeded by
Foster May
Preceded by
Robert L. Cochran
Democratic nominee for
Governor of Nebraska

Succeeded by
Charles W. Bryan
Preceded by
Foster May
Democratic nominee for
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Nebraska

Succeeded by
William Ritchie
Preceded by
Frank B. Morrison
Democratic nominee for
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Nebraska

Succeeded by
J. James Exon
This page was last edited on 16 January 2021, at 00:00
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