Walter D. Huddleston Oral History Transcribing Project

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Senator Walter D. Huddleston has managed to combine three careers intJ one lifetime. He was a successful small businessman, and enthusiastic civic and community leader, and an effective and respected public servant. Huddleston served as a tank gunner with the 9th Armored Division during World War Two. After the war, he graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor's degree in radio arts in 1949, and worked as a sports announcer and program director for radio stations WKCT in Bowling Green and WIEL in Elizabethtown. He later became part owner of WLBN in Lebanon, Kentucky, and served as president of the Kentucky Broadcasters Association. He also served as president of the Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of Rotary International. The Kentucky Jaycees named him the Outstanding Young Man of Kentucky in 1960. Sen. Huddleston was elected as a state senator from the 10th District in 1965 and was re-elected in 1969. He twice served as Majority Leader of the state Senate, and also served as Democratic Caucus Chairman. In 1971, he successfully Request managed Wendell Ford's gubernatorial campaign. In his first state-wid2 election, Sen. Huddleston defeated former Governor Louie B. Nunn for the U.S. Senate in 1972, the first Democrat from Kentucky elected to the Senate in sixteen years. He was re-elected in 1978 by a huge margin, and served as Assistant Majority Whip in the Senate. He was also a member of the Democratic Policy CowJittee. While in the U.S. Senate, Huddleston built a reputation for effective~ess through quiet, hard work, preferring to influence legislation and policy through his committee work. Republican Senator Howard Baker once described Huddleston as one of the Senate's ten most effective members. One Huddleston's most important committee assignments was the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated U.S. intelligence activities and abuses and led to major reforms. He authored the legislation that gave Congress statutory authority in oversight of the nation's intelligence efforts. Sen. Huddleston also served as a senior member on the Agriculture Co~mittee where he was a staunch defender of Kentucky's tobacco economy, and also the Appropriations Committee. As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, he oversaw virtually all military spending including major weapon systems. Sen. Huddleston was defeated for re-election in 1984 by Mitch McConnell. The twelve life-story oral history interviews in the Walter D. Huddleston Oral History Project were conducted by U.K. Oral History Program Director ?erry L. Birdwhistell over a two-year period. They document not only Sen. Huddleston's life and political career, but also shed light on the major state and national political events that occurred between 1965 and 1984, including the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam War, the Watergate investigation and resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the collapse of the Soviet
Effective start/end date1/1/0512/31/05


  • KY Oral History Commission: $1,920.00


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