Henry Ward (Kentucky politician)

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Henry Ward (June 20, 1909 – October 8, 2002) was a Democrat from Kentucky who held positions in state administrations and was his party's nominee for governor in 1967. Ward lost the general election to Republican Louie B. Nunn, who received 454,123 votes (51.2%) to Ward's 425,674 (48.0%).[1]


Ward's political career began with his election to the Kentucky House of Representatives on the strength of his editorial battles as a journalist against electric utilities, whom Ward accused of providing unreliable coverage for the prices charged. He was re-elected to the House four more times and was named majority leader before he stepped down in 1943. As a state legislator, Ward was a strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.[2] Two years later, he won a seat in the Kentucky Senate, and served there from 1945 to 1948. The same year, Earle Clements appointed Ward to be commissioner of conservation, a post he held for eight years. He played a key role in founding Kentucky's network of state parks.[3][4] In 1960, Ward gained two positions in the Kentucky state government, becoming both the highway commissioner and the chairman of the State Park Board. As highway commissioner, Ward secured millions of dollars in funding from both voters and the federal government to build a vast network of Interstates and other roads.[5]

Ward had previously been active with the Chamber of Commerce in Louisville and was instrumental in having Interstate 65 routed through downtown Louisville. He later said that decision was a mistake.

Ward was selected by Edward T. Breathitt as Breathitt's preferred successor as governor, but Ward was not a particularly skilled or gifted candidate for statewide office though he had been elected to both houses of the Kentucky State Legislature. He beat Happy Chandler in the primary election for governor. Chandler subsequently endorsed Louie Nunn, who narrowly defeated Ward.[6] Henry Ward was the first Democratic nominee for governor to lose a general election since 1943, a situation that didn't occur again for the next thirty-six years, until Ben Chandler, Happy Chandler's grandson, lost in 2003 to Republican Ernie Fletcher.[7]

Ward died on October 8, 2002.


  1. ^ van Curon, S.C. (15 October 1979), "The forces are gathering", The Daily News, p. 4, retrieved 15 February 2015
  2. ^ Pearce, John Ed (2006). Divide and Dissent: Kentucky Politics, 1930-1963 (Paperback ed.). Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 51. ISBN 9780813148441.
  3. ^ Ullrich, Dieter C. (25 May 2010). "Henry Ward Manuscript". Murray State University Libraries. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Henry Ward: He Can Take Pride", The Daily News, p. 9, June 28, 1974, retrieved 15 February 2015
  5. ^ "Henry T. Ward". Kentucky Transportation Center. University of Kentucky. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  6. ^ Miller, Penny M.; Jewell, Malcolm E. (1990). Political Parties and Primaries in Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 44. ISBN 9780813163864.
  7. ^ Other former state highway directors who lost gubernatorial races during this period of history were Fred Preaus in Louisiana in 1956 and Marshall Formby in Texas in 1962.
  • Henry Ward's obituary
Party political offices
Preceded by
Edward T. Breathitt
Democratic nominee for Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by
Wendell H. Ford
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