Ray Thornton

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Ray Thornton
Ray Thornton (D–AR) .jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 1, 1997
Preceded by Tommy F. Robinson
Succeeded by Vic Snyder
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by David Pryor
Succeeded by Beryl Anthony, Jr.
Arkansas Attorney General
In office
Preceded by Joe Purcell
Succeeded by Jim Guy Tucker
Personal details
Born (1928-07-16) July 16, 1928 (age 86)
Conway, Arkansas
Political party Democratic

Raymond Hoyt "Ray" Thornton, Jr. (born July 16, 1928) is a former U.S. Representative from the US state of Arkansas.

A graduate of Sheridan High School, Thornton earned a degree in political science from Yale University and, later, a law degree from the University of Arkansas. He served in the United States Navy during the Korean War, earning the rank of lieutenant.

Thornton returned to law school after returning from Korea; obtaining his law degree in 1956. After election as Arkansas Attorney General in 1970, he was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1972. He defeated fellow Democrat Richard S. Arnold of Texarkana in the primary. Thornton went on to serve three terms in the House. He served as a member of the Judiciary Committee considering Articles of Impeachment against President Richard Nixon, and was included in the group of three southern Democrats and four moderate Republicans who drafted the articles adopted by the Committee.

Thornton did not run for a fourth term in the House. Instead, he ran for the Senate, but narrowly lost in the Democratic primary to Governor David Pryor. Pryor then defeated a liberal Republican, William T. Kelly, in the general election.

After his defeat in the Senate race, Thornton became involved in education, serving as President of Arkansas State University and then the University of Arkansas System from 1984 to 1990. In 1990, Thornton ran for Congress in the Little Rock-based district and won by a comfortable margin over the Republican nominee, Jim Keet, then a state representative and the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee. Thornton left Congress after another three terms, having retired in January 1997.

Thornton served as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1997 to 2005. After retiring from the court, he became the first public service fellow for the William Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. In 2009, he became the first chairman of the Arkansas Lottery Commission, which operates the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.[1]

See also[edit]


  • Image and Reflection: A Pictorial History of the University of Arkansas; Ethel Simpson. U of Ark. Press, 1991

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Joe Purcell
Attorney General of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Jim Guy Tucker
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Pryor
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th congressional district

January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1979
Succeeded by
Beryl Anthony, Jr.
Preceded by
Tommy F. Robinson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 2nd congressional district

January 3, 1991 – January 1, 1997
Succeeded by
Vic Snyder