Judy Petty Wolf
|Judy Petty Wolf|
|Arkansas State Representative from Pulaski County|
September 4, 1943 |
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
(2) Dr. Robert H. Wolf
|Residence||San Antonio, Texas, U.S.|
|Alma mater||University of Arkansas at Little Rock|
Judy C. Petty, later Judy Petty Wolf (born September 4, 1943), is a retired officer of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and a former Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives. As a lawmaker, she was the primary sponsor of landmark legislation on justice for crime victims.
A native of the capital city of Little Rock, Wolf graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. As Judy Petty, a divorced mother with a young daughter, she took a job in the middle 1960s for $300 per month as a secretary to Winthrop Rockefeller, the twice elected first Republican governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction. She was state chairman of the Arkansas Reagan for President Campaign in 1976 and supported Ronald J. Reagan in 1980 and 1984.
Challenging Wilbur Mills
In 1974, she gained national attention with her GOP challenge to entrenched Democratic U.S. Representative Wilbur D. Mills, the chairman at the time of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Mills' involvement with a Washington, D.C., stripper called "Fanne Foxe" provided an opening for Petty's conservative challenge to the veteran lawmaker. (Marshall Frady, Southerners, 128) She was the only Republican ever to challenge Mills. In a heavily Democratic year nationally, she still managed to gain nearly 42 percent of the vote.
Petty criticized Mills' integrity and focused on contributions that he received in his brief run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. David L. Parr, a former special counsel with Associated Milk Producers, Inc., pleaded guilty to making an illegal $75,000 contribution to Mills' presidential campaign. Mills replied that his aides accepted the contribution without his permission. A similar donation was made by Gulf Oil Corporation in the amount of $15,000. Petty declared that Mills was "standing with his feet planted in sour milk."
Petty took a mainline Republican stand on defense and federal spending. She campaigned most actively in the district. In Conway north of Little Rock, she was refused permission by State Senator Guy Hamilton "Mutt" Jones, Sr. (1911–1986), to ride in the Faulkner County fair parade.
President Ford posed for pictures with Mrs. Petty in the campaign but declined to campaign actively for her, lest he anger his old House colleague Mills. (Arkansas Gazette, November 3, 1974) Ronald Reagan, however, came to Little Rock to speak on Petty's behalf. Petty hammered away at what she perceived as Mills' arrogance of power. "The most beautiful words in the Constitution are not 'he's the chairman' or 'he's the powerful,; it's 'we the people,'" she exclaimed.
Mills received 80,296 votes and won all nine counties in his district as he had always done. Petty trailed with 56,038 (41.1 percent). The Republican's better tallies were in Saline and Pulaski counties, where she drew some 46 percent each.
Politics in the 1980s
In 1980, Petty was elected to the first of two two-years terms in the state legislature from a Little Rock district. She benefited from a GOP tide that year, with the election of Reagan as president and Frank D. White as governor, although she outpolled all other Republicans on the ballot.
In her 1982 reelection, Petty was targeted by the Arkansas Gazette, which termed the former Winthrop Rockefeller aide "an ultraconservative Republican whose record is her worst reference". (Gazette, October 27, 1982) However, Petty was endorsed for reelection by the United Transportation Union, which passed up the pro-labor choice, Democrat Jim Brandon, who accused Petty of having a negative record in regard to workers and employment issues. (Arkansas Gazette, October 5, 1982)
In 1984, Petty did not seek a third legislative term but instead ran once again for the Second Congressional District seat being then vacated by her fellow Republican Edwin R. Bethune of White County, north of Little Rock. Bethune ran instead, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for the United States Senate. Incumbent Democrat David Hampton Pryor handily won his second term and ended Bethune's elective political career.
Robinson won the election based on his blue-collar appeal. Later he switched to the Republican Party, and in 1990, unsuccessfully sought the party's gubernatorial nomination, having lost to the favorite of business, Sheffield Nelson. Robinson's House seat also reverted to its traditional Democratic moorings with the election of former U.S. Representative Ray Thornton, who had served during the 1970s from the Fourth Congressional District in south Arkansas. The seat remained Democratic until 2010, when Tim Griffin defeated Democratic state senator Joyce Elliott.
After her legislative service, Petty was the director of public affairs for the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and public affairs consultant to the U.S. Department of Transportation, all in Washington, D.C. She represented the United States at North Atlantic Treaty Organization conferences in France, Belgium, England, and Germany.
UT Health Sciences Center
Petty lived for a time in Covington in the New Orleans suburbs after she married her high school sweetheart, veterinarian, Dr. Robert H. Wolf. They both took jobs with the UT Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, he in 1987 and she in 1989.
As Judy Wolf, she coordinated special events and served as director of community relations and special services, vice president for university relations, and, finally, senior vice president for external affairs. She oversaw the center's fund-raising and development programs, news and media relations, public relations, communications and publications, community relations and special events.
Mrs. Wolf produced award-winning videos and publications and directed the Health Science Center’s yearlong 25th anniversary celebration, which included more than 50 community events. She received the "Best of Texas" award from the Texas Public Relations Association for the most outstanding PR campaign in the state. Magazine and newsletters produced under her direction secured state, regional, national, and international awards, including the Gold Quill Award, presented in Toronto, Canada, in 2003 for the Mission magazine and the HSC News. One of her later accomplishments included the dedication ceremony of the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.
Dr. Wolf, meanwhile, was the director of laboratory animal research and was instrumental in the development of some of the center's research buildings. The couple retired jointly in the summer of 2006. Health Sciences Center President Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, a native of Laredo, described the Wolfs as "integral to almost everything that has gone on at this Health Science Center in the last nineteen years. They have been extraordinary leaders, as well as mentors and advisors to numerous individuals at the Health Science Center. They will be greatly missed, but we wish them much happiness in their retirement years."
- New York Times, September 8, 1974
- Arkansas Gazette, November 1, 1974
- Arkansas Gazette, November 1–3, 1974; October 5, 27, 1982
- The New York Times, September 8, 1974
- Jack Bass and Walter DeVries, The Transformation of Southern Politics: Social Change and Political Consequences Since 1945 (New York, 1976), p. 99
- Marshall Frady, Southerners (New York, 1980), p. 116
- Face the Nation, CBS, June 4, 1972, p. 184
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, October 12, 1974, p. 2,720
- Election Statistics, 1974, 1984 (Little Rock: Secretary of State)