Joe Purcell

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Joe Edward Purcell
Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 9, 1979
Preceded by David Pryor
Succeeded by Bill Clinton
9th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 14, 1975 – January 19, 1981
Governor David Pryor
Bill Clinton
Preceded by Bob C. Riley
Succeeded by Winston Bryant
Arkansas Attorney General
In office
1967–1971
Preceded by Bruce Bennett
Succeeded by Ray Thornton
Personal details
Born (1923-07-29)July 29, 1923
Warren, Bradley County
Arkansas, USA
Died March 5, 1987 (aged 63)
Benton, Saline County
Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Helen Hale Purcell
Children Lynelle and Ede
Profession Attorney
Served unexpired term of David Pryor, following Pryor's ascent to the United States Senate

Joe Edward Purcell (July 29, 1923 – March 5, 1987) was the Governor of Arkansas for six days in 1979 as well as Arkansas Attorney General from 1967–1971 and the ninth Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas from 1975–1981.

Purcell was born in Warren, the seat of Bradley County, in southern Arkansas. He graduated from Little Rock Junior College and the University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville. From 1962 to 1967, he served as the municipal judge in Benton in Saline County. He also served as prosecuting attorney in Benton prior to having been elected judge.

In 1966, Purcell unseated Attorney Geneal Bruce Bennett, a strong segregationist from El Dorado in the Democratic primary election. He then defeated in the general election a stronger-than-usual opponent, Republican Jerry Thomasson, a former Democrat and a state representative from Arkadelphia in Clark County.

In 1974, Purcell was elected lieutenant governor; he handily defeated the Republican Leona Troxell of Rose Bud in White County, a former associate of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. He was reelected as lieutenant governor in 1976 and 1978 under Governors David Pryor and Bill Clinton. He served as Governor for six days in 1979, having filled the unexpired term of then senator-elect David Hampton Pryor of Camden.[1]

Purcell was twice a candidate for governor. In 1970, he was considered the leading challenger to former Governor Orval Faubus and ran second to Faubus throughout the primary race, but was edged out of a runoff berth by less than 500 votes by Charleston attorney Dale Bumpers, who went on to defeat Faubus and then the Republican Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in the general election. Purcell was Bumpers' choice to chair the Arkansas Democratic Party, a position which he held from 1970 to 1973. His chief task as party chair was to purge followers of presidential candidate George Wallace of Alabama and former gubernatorial nominee James D. Johnson from the party ranks and to limit the influence of the Faubus-era "Old Guard" faction. He entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1982 and surpisingly edged out former Congressman Jim Guy Tucker for a runoff berth with former Governor Bill Clinton. Purcell lost the Democratic nomination in a runoff primary to Clinton, 46 to 54 percent.[2]

Purcell resided in Benton until his death at the age of sixty-three.[citation needed]

Purcell married the former Helen Hale from Prescott, Arkansas, and the couple had two daughters, Lynelle and Ede. He had three grandchildren: Brian Hogue, David Hogue, and Erin Hogue.

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
David Pryor
Governor
Governor of Arkansas
January 1979
Succeeded by
Bill Clinton
Governor
Preceded by
Bob C. Riley
Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
1975–1981
Succeeded by
Winston Bryant
Legal offices
Preceded by
Bruce Bennett
Arkansas Attorney General
1967–1971
Succeeded by
Ray Thornton