Kirk Fordice

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Kirk Fordice
Kirk Fordice.jpg
61st Governor of Mississippi
In office
January 14, 1992 – January 11, 2000
Lieutenant Eddie Briggs
Ronnie Musgrove
Preceded by Ray Mabus
Succeeded by Ronnie Musgrove
Personal details
Born Daniel Kirkwood Fordice, Jr.
(1934-02-10)February 10, 1934
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Died September 7, 2004(2004-09-07) (aged 70)
Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
Resting place Parkway Memorial Cemetery, Ridgeland, Mississippi
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Pat Fordice (1955–1999; divorced)
Ann G. Creson (2000–2003; divorced)
Profession Soldier, Businessman
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch

 United States Army

Army Reserve
Years of service 1957–1959; 1959–1977
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars

Vietnam War

Daniel Kirkwood "Kirk" Fordice, Jr. (February 10, 1934 – September 7, 2004), was an American politician and businessman who served as the 61st Governor of Mississippi from January 14, 1992 until January 11, 2000. He was the first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction-era governor Adelbert Ames, who served from 1874–76.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Fordice studied engineering at Purdue University, becoming a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and earning a BS and MS in 1956 and 1957, respectively. After graduation he served with the United States Army as an engineer officer in the 1st Infantry Division for two years. He remained in the Army Reserve until 1977, retiring with the rank of colonel. Fordice settled in Vicksburg and began a career in heavy construction, eventually taking over the construction company of his father, Daniel Kirkwood Fordice, Sr., and becoming a millionaire.

He won the governorship of Mississippi in the 1991 election, first winning the Republican primary against state auditor Pete Johnson and in the general election against Democratic incumbent Ray Mabus, who four years earlier had defeated the Republican businessman Jack Reed of Tupelo, 53 to 47 percent, until that time the best Republican gubernatorial showing in Mississippi during the 20th century.

Fordice was re-elected in 1995 against Democratic Mississippi secretary of state Dick Molpus. His second inauguration was on January 16, 1996. An outspoken conservative, Fordice advocated tax cuts, the abolishment of affirmative action, reductions in the welfare system, expanded capital punishment, tougher prison conditions and the building of more prisons.[1]

Fordice offended Jewish groups such as B'nai B'rith by referring to America as "a Christian Nation" during a Republican governors conference. South Carolina governor Carroll Campbell quickly offered a correction, adding "Judeo-" as a prefix to Christian, but Fordice snapped back that he meant what he said. He later apologized for any offense. Fordice refused to discuss any increase in public school pay rates across the state, even though Mississippi ranked 49th in the nation. When teachers discussed striking he ordered that any teacher who went on strike be immediately fired.[2]

In August 1996, Fordice signed an executive order banning recognition of same-sex marriages in Mississippi.[3] Lawmakers said then that they would back up the executive order with a law. In 2004, Mississippi voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and further banning recognition of same-sex marriages from other states and countries.[4][5]

Fordice said he would have quit his position of Governor while still in office, except that he didn't want to give the Democratic candidate, Lieutenant Governor Ronnie Musgrove, any spot-light time of running the state before the actual election.[6] Musgrove won the election anyway and became Mississippi's next Governor.

Personal life[edit]

Fordice's tenure was roiled by an extramarital affair with his high school sweetheart Ann G. Creson, which led to his divorce from his wife of forty-four years, Pat Fordice. The controversy included 65-year-old Fordice's threat to "whip your ass" when reporter Bert Case went to Fordice's house to question him. After leaving office, Fordice married Ann, but they later divorced.

Death[edit]

After retiring, Fordice settled in Madison, Mississippi. He died of leukemia in Jackson at the age of 70, with his first ex-wife, Patricia, by his side. He is buried at Parkway Memorial Cemetery in Ridgeland, Mississippi.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Press, Politics and Consensus in New Old South". The New York Times. February 24, 1997. 
  2. ^ "Rant, Listen, Exploit, Learn, Scare, Help, Manipulate, Lead". The New York Times. January 28, 1996. 
  3. ^ "FindLaw for Legal Professionals – Law & Legal Information". 
  4. ^ USA Today: Amendment banning gay marriage passes, usatoday.com; accessed February 3, 2017.
  5. ^ "Mississippi Governor Bans Same-Sex Marriage". The New York Times. August 24, 1996. 
  6. ^ Jr, B. Drummond Ayres (August 29, 1999). "POLITICAL BRIEFING; Now, a New Episode Of the Fordice Saga" – via NYTimes.com. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ray Mabus
Governor of Mississippi
January 14, 1992 – January 11, 2000
Succeeded by
Ronnie Musgrove