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Bill Gwatney

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Bill Gwatney
Chair of the Arkansas Democratic Party
In office
2007 – August 13, 2008
Preceded by Jason Willett
Succeeded by David Pryor[1][2]
Member of the Arkansas Senate
from the 19th district
In office
1993 – January 13, 2003
Succeeded by Terry Smith
Personal details
Born William A. Gwatney
August 26, 1959
Died August 13, 2008(2008-08-13) (aged 48)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Children Christian and Chase

Bill Gwatney (August 26, 1959[3] – August 13, 2008) was an American politician who served as the State Chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.[4] Prior to being State Chair, he was a State Senator for 10 years. He had also been the financial chair for Mike Beebe's run for Governor of Arkansas in 2006. He owned three car dealerships in Pulaski County.[3][5] Gwatney was selected as a superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, but was assassinated before serving. He was replaced by his widow Rebecca Rankin.


On August 13, 2008, Gwatney was fatally wounded[6] when a man, identified in news reports as Timothy Dale Johnson, 50,[7][8] entered Democratic Party headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas and shot Gwatney three times.[9] Gwatney was taken to a hospital, but died at 3:59 pm CDT.[6]

The gunman had said he wanted to speak with Gwatney about volunteering, but sidestepped his assistant when she said he was busy.[10] After the shooting, the gunman fled the scene in his truck and led police on a 30-mile (48 km) chase out of Little Rock.[10] Johnson was fatally shot by police after a PIT maneuver forced him off the road into a field near Sheridan.[9][11] No motive was discovered, except Johnson quitting his job at a Target retail store earlier that day.[1][2]


The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Athletic Department posthumously inducted Gwatney into their Hall of Fame during a ceremony prior to the tip-off of the men's basketball game vs. New Orleans on February 26, 2009.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Andrew DeMillo (2008-08-21). "Widow of slain Demo chairman to attend convention". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-08-25. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b Rob Moritz (2008-08-22). "Gwatney's widow to serve as superdelegate at Democratic convention". Arkansas News Bureau. Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  3. ^ a b "Bill Gwatney, Ark. Dem. chairman, shot dead at 48". The Associated Press. August 13, 2008. Archived from the original on 18 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  4. ^ AP story Archived August 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ The Cabin article
  6. ^ a b "Arkansas Democratic chairman killed in shooting". CNN. August 13, 2008. Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  7. ^ "Arkansas Democratic Chairman Gwatney Killed In Shooting". RTT News. 2008-08-13. Archived from the original on 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  8. ^ "Gunman wounds Ark. Dems' party chairman". The Associated Press. 2008-08-13. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  9. ^ a b Shaila Dewan (2008-08-13). "Gunman Critically Wounds Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  10. ^ a b "Wounded suspect in Ark. shooting dies after chase". The Associated Press. 2008-08-13. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  11. ^ Max Brantley (2008-08-13). "UPDATE: Bill Gwatney shot;; assailant dead". The Arkansas Times. Archived from the original on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 

External links[edit]