282,666 Pages

Don Sundquist
47th Governor of Tennessee

In office
January 21, 1995 – January 18, 2003
Lieutenant John Wilder
Preceded by Ned McWherter
Succeeded by Phil Bredesen
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th district

In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Ed Jones
Succeeded by Ed Bryant
Personal details
Born March 15, 1936(1936-03-15) (age 85)
Moline, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Martha Swanson[1]
Residence Townsend, Tennessee[2]
Alma mater Augustana College (B.A.)[3]
Occupation Businessman
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1957–1963
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Donald Kenneth Sundquist (born March 15, 1936) is a former American businessman and politician who served as the 47th Governor of Tennessee from 1995 to 2003. Prior to his governorship, he represented Tennessee's 7th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 1995.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Sundquist was born in Moline, Illinois, the son of Kenneth and Louise (Rohren) Sundquist. His father was of Swedish descent, while his mother was of German descent.[3] After graduating from Moline High School in 1953,[4] he attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, obtaining his B.A. in Business Administration in 1957.[3] He served in the United States Navy from 1957 to 1963, including two years on active duty.[5]

Sundquist joined Jostens in 1961, and initially worked at the company's plants in Princeton, Illinois, and Owatonna, Minnesota.[3] In 1962, he was transferred to the company plant in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where he became plant manager.[1] He left Jostens in 1972 and moved to Memphis, where he established an advertising and printing firm, Graphic Sales of America.[1]

While in Memphis, Sundquist became active in Republican Party politics. He served as an organizer of the Goldwater-for-President campaign in 1964.[6] He served as Chair of the national Young Republicans from 1971 to 1973, and chair of the Shelby County Republican Party from 1975 to 1977.[5] He was a delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention and the 1980 Republican National Convention, and managed the presidential campaign of Howard Baker in the 1980 election.[5]

Congress[edit | edit source]

Congressional portrait

In 1982, Sundquist sought the seat of Congressman Robin Beard, who was retiring to run against Jim Sasser for the U.S. Senate. Beard's district, the 6th, had been renumbered as the 7th following redistricting.[5] In the general election, Sundquist edged Bob Clement, son of former Governor Frank G. Clement, by just over 1,000 votes out of over 145,000 votes cast.[7] He would never face another contest nearly that close; he was unopposed for reelection in 1984 and was reelected three more times after that with almost no difficulty.[5]

While in Congress, Sundquist established a conservative voting record, and was popular with conservative-oriented groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the American Conservative Union.[5] He was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, serving on the Subcommittee on Trade and the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures.[5] He was also a member of the Republican Task Force on Trade, and the Republican Task Force on Ethics Reform.[1]

Governor[edit | edit source]

In 1994, Sundquist ran for governor in the race to replace the Democratic incumbent, Ned McWherter, who was term-limited. He easily won the nomination, winning over 80% of the vote in the primary, and faced the Democratic nominee, Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen, in the general election.[8] Bredesen criticized Sundquist for voting against a minimum wage increase while voting for a congressional pay raise. Sundquist accused Bredesen of flip-flopping on issues such as public funding for abortion and school privatization.[3] On election day, Sundquist won, 807,104 votes to 664,252.[1]

During his first term, Sundquist focused on government efficiency and welfare reform.[1] He signed the "Families First" bill in 1996, which reduced the number of families on welfare from 70,000 to 30,000.[9] He also signed a series of crime-related measures which called for tougher sentences and more focus on victims' rights.[1] In 1996, Sundquist eliminated the state's scandal-ridden Public Service Commission, replacing it with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.[5] That same year, he created the Department of Children's Services.[1]

In 1998, Sundquist easily won renomination, defeating Memphis realtor Shirley Beck-Vosse, 258,786 votes to 28,951.[3] In the general election, he easily defeated his Democratic opponent, John Jay Hooker, 669,973 votes to 287,790.[3]

Shortly after winning reelection in November 1998, Sundquist implemented the ConnectTen program, which made Tennessee the first state in the nation to connect its schools and libraries to the Internet.[9]

During his second term, Sundquist set out to raise more revenue for the state, which had traditionally been one of the lowest-tax jurisdictions in the country. He was concerned that the sales tax, which the state relied upon for much of its revenue, was too unstable, and prevented the state from competing with other Southern states in education and infrastructure.[1] His tax reform plan therefore included a state income tax, the proposal of which had long been a third rail in Tennessee state politics. Many of his political allies turned against him, and anti-income tax street demonstrations were held in Nashville.[5] In July 2001, demonstrators vandalized Sundquist's office, and broke windows in the state capitol when the legislature was considering the income tax measure.[10]

Post-Governorship[edit | edit source]

In 2002, toward the end of Sundquist's second term, a Nashville television station, NewsChannel 5, uncovered evidence that businesses owned by Sundquist's friends were illegally given no-bid contracts by the state. In December of that year, the FBI raided the offices of Education Networks of America (ENA), founded by Sundquist's friend, Al Ganier, as part of an investigation into whether or not Ganier used his relationship with Sundquist to obtain millions of dollars worth of state contracts (including the ConnectTenn contract). Ganier eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized use of a computer.[11]

In May 2004, a Labor Department employee, Joanna Ediger, was convicted of rigging a $2 million state contract for Workforce Strategists, a company owned by another Sundquist friend, John Stamps.[12] The following year, Stamps pleaded guilty to four counts of tax evasion and one count of making false statements.[13] U.S. District Judge Karl Forester said Sundquist was the "impetus" for the investigations, although he was never implicated in any wrongdoing, nor were any senior members of his administration.[14]

In July 2005, Sundquist was named head of a national panel on improving Medicaid.[15]

Sundquist is a lobbyist and works for the firm he co-founded, Sundquist Anthony. He also served as state vice chair of the John McCain presidential campaign team.[16]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Carroll Van West, "Don Sundquist," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009. Retrieved: 9 January 2013.
  2. Georgiana Vines, "Sundquist Wants More 'Civil' and 'Bipartisan' Politics," Knoxville News Sentinel, January 3, 2010; retrieved January 9, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Phillip Langsdon, Tennessee: A Political History (Franklin, Tenn.: Hillsboro Press, 2000), pp. 408-412.
  4. "Biographical Directory". United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S001075. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Governor Don Sundquist Papers (finding aid), Tennessee State Library and Archives, 2007. Retrieved: 9 January 2013.
  6. Baker, Jackson (2011-10-01). "King of the Hill" (in en-us). http://memphismagazine.com/features/king-of-the-hilldon-sundquist-at-a-distance/. 
  7. Our Campaigns – TN District 7, 1982. Retrieved: 9 January 2013.
  8. Our Campaigns – TN Governor, Republican primary, 1994. Retrieved: 9 January 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Don Sundquist, National Governors Association website. Retrieved: 9 January 2013.
  10. "Tax Protesters Break Windows in Tennessee Capitol," CNN.com, 12 July 2001. Retrieved: 9 January 2013.
  11. "Sundquist Friend Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Archived May 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.," NewsChannel5.com, 24 July 2007. Retrieved: 10 January 2013.
  12. "Ediger Hit with Three-Year Prison Term[dead link]," NewsChannel5.com, 14 February 2005. Retrieved: 10 January 2013.
  13. "Guilty! Sundquist Friend John Stamps Admits to Federal Charges[dead link]," NewsChannel5.com, 23 May 2005. Retrieved: 10 January 2013.
  14. Sheila Burke, "Judge Says Sundquist was Reason for Federal Probe," Citizen Review, 10 July 2005. Retrieved: 9 January 2013.
  15. Congressional Advisory Council Archived June 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., International Conservation Caucus Fountation website. Retrieved: 13 February 2013.
  16. Tom Humphrey, "In Presidential Race, Tennessee Strategies Diverge," Knoxnews.com, 22 October 2008. Retrieved: 13 February 2013.

External links[edit | edit source]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ned McWherter
Governor of Tennessee
January 21, 1995–January 18, 2003
Succeeded by
Phil Bredesen
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ed Jones
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee's 7th congressional district
Succeeded by
Ed Bryant
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dwight Henry
Republican Party nominee for Governor of Tennessee
1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Van Hilleary

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