|Name||Thelma Hawkins Stovall|
Louisville, Kentucky , United States
|| April 01, 1919
|Died||February 04, 1994
May 20, 2010 07:51pm
|Info||Thelma Hawkins Stovall (April 1, 1919 - February 4, 1994) was a pioneering female Southern politician who won several statewide elective offices in Kentucky, capping her career as Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky (1975–1979) under the administration of her fellow Democrat, Governor Julian Carroll. |
Stovall was born in Munfordville, Kentucky. She later moved to Louisville. At the age of 15, she started working for the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation to support her family during the Great Depression. She became involved in union politics in young adulthood and remained close to Kentucky labor unions throughout her career.
Stovall won election to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1950 and was re-elected twice. She served as president of the Kentucky Young Democrats, 1952-1956. Stovall was elected secretary of state in 1956, 1964 and 1972, and state treasurer in 1960 and 1968. Stovall served in those two offices continuously for five straight terms, 1956-1975, thereby becoming (with Frances Jones Mills and Drexell R. Davis) among the best-known practitioners of "musical chairs" office holding in the time when Kentucky's constitution prohibited any statewide officials from serving consecutive terms in the same office.
In 1959, Stovall was secretary of state then, the third-ranking office in Kentucky. When she discovered that the governor and lieutenant governor were both out of state, as acting governor (by law) she pardoned three prisoners, including a holdup man sentenced to up to life for stealing $28.
In 1975, Stovall was the first woman nominated for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky by either major political party. Stovall defeated the Republican nominee, Shirley W. Palmer-Ball, with 430,011 votes (54.6%) to Palmer-Ball's 357,744 votes (45.4%). Stovall ran well behind Julian Carroll, who headed the Democratic ticket and won the governor's office with 470,159 votes (62.8%) to 277,998 votes (37.2%) for the Republican nominee Bob Gable.
Under a since-repealed constitutional provision, as lieutenant governor Stovall often invoked her powers as acting governor when Governor Julian Carroll left the state. In 1978, as acting governor in Carroll's absence Stovall issued pardons, called the Kentucky General Assembly into special session to enact legislation limiting property tax increases, and purported to veto the legislature's repeal of its ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Stovall sought election as Governor of Kentucky in 1979 but lost in the Democratic primary to John Y. Brown, Jr., who went on to win the general election. Stovall won 47,633 votes, good for fifth place behind Brown's 165,188 votes, 139,713 for Harvey I. Sloane, the mayor of Louisville, 131,530 for Terry McBrayer and 68,577 for 1st District Congressman Carroll Hubbard. Stovall did finish ahead of four minor candidates in the gubernatorial primary.
Stovall returned to Louisville after leaving the lieutenant governor's office and did not hold public office again.