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Julian Carroll

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Julian Carroll
Carroll in 1975
Member of the Kentucky Senate
from the 7th District
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by Lindy Casebier
54th Governor of Kentucky
In office
December 28, 1974 – December 11, 1979
Lieutenant Vacant (1974–1975)
Thelma Stovall (1975–1979)
Preceded by Wendell H. Ford
Succeeded by John Y. Brown, Jr.
46th Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
In office
December 7, 1971 – December 28, 1974
Governor Wendell H. Ford
Preceded by Wendell H. Ford
Succeeded by Thelma Stovall
Personal details
Born Julian Morton Carroll
(1931-04-16) April 16, 1931 (age 91)
Paducah, Kentucky, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charlann Harting
Alma mater Paducah Junior College
University of Kentucky
Profession Lawyer
Religion Assemblies of God[1]
Military service
Service/branch United States Air Force

Julian Morton Carroll (born April 16, 1931) is an American politician from the state of Kentucky. A Democrat, he is a member of the Kentucky Senate, representing Anderson, Franklin, Woodford, Gallatin and Owen counties. From 1974 to 1979, he served as the 54th Governor of Kentucky, succeeding Wendell H. Ford, who resigned to accept a seat in the U.S. Senate. He was the first Kentucky governor from the state's far-western Jackson Purchase region, and his running mate Thelma Stovall was the first woman to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky and spending three years as an Air Force lawyer, Carroll returned to McCracken County, Kentucky where he gained acclaim for leading a campaign to allow the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide low-cost electricity to the county. He was elected to the first of five terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1962 and served as Speaker of that body from 1968 to 1970. He ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1970 on an informal ticket with former Governor Bert T. Combs. Combs lost in the Democratic primary to Wendell Ford, but Carroll defeated his primary opponents and went on to win the general election. He was elevated to the governorship in 1975 due to Ford's election to the Senate, and won a full term in his own right in 1976.

As Governor, Carroll increased funding for public education and promoted the use of coal as a means of alleviating the 1973 energy crisis. He also oversaw a major reorganization of the state's judicial system. Many natural and man-made disasters occurred during his term in office, including the Great Blizzard of 1978 and the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, leading to better safety practices and stricter law enforcement in the state. When Carroll left office, both he and his predecessor were under the cloud of an investigation for an alleged insurance kickback scheme, but Carroll was not convicted of any wrongdoing. In 2004, he was elected to the Kentucky Senate. Re-elected in 2008 and 2012, his current term will expire in 2017.

Early life

Julian Carroll was born in West Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky on April 16, 1931.[2] He was the third of eleven children born to Elvie B. "Buster" and Eva (Heady) Carroll.[3] His father was a tenant farmer, but shortly after the Ohio River flood of 1937, the family moved to Heath, Kentucky where Buster Carroll sold tractor implements and opened an automobile repair shop in 1940.[3] Through his early teenage years, Carroll lived with his grandparents to help care for an ailing grandfather.[4]

In 1949, Carroll was selected to represent Heath High School at Kentucky Boys State, a week-long a civic affairs summer camp for high school seniors-to-be.[5] Participants in the camp create a miniature state government based on their state's actual government.[5] At the camp, Carroll was elected governor of the miniature government.[6] The following year, he graduated as salutatorian and student body president of Heath High School.[7]

Carroll began dating Charlann Harting near the end of 1950.[8] In mid-1951, they parted ways to attend college – Harting, whose family was better off financially, at the University of Kentucky and Carroll at nearby Paducah Junior College.[8] After their first year, Carroll and Harting decided to get married.[9] The ceremony took place on July 22, 1951, and the couple eventually had four children – Kenneth, Patrice, Bradley, and Ellyn.[10] Ellyn, born June 27, 1975, was the first child born to a Kentucky First Family while they were residing in the Governor's Mansion.[10]

Carroll earned an Associate in Arts degree from Paducah Junior College in 1952.[11] That summer, the family moved to Lexington where Carroll matriculated to the University of Kentucky.[12] He funded his further education working for the Fayette County Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Office.[7] In 1954, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, and in 1956, he earned a Bachelor of Laws degree.[7]

While in college, Carroll had received training through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.[13] By graduation, he had risen to the rank of Commandant of Cadets, the highest rank of any student at the university.[13] After graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas.[14] For three years, he served as an Air Force attorney, then returned to Paducah and joined the law firm of Reed, Scent, Reed, and Walton.[11][14] He was active in civic affairs, including membership in the Jaycees and serving as charter president of the Paducah Optimists Club in 1962.[7] He was a frequent lay speaker in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and from 1966 to 1967, served as moderator for the Kentucky Synod.[11]

In January 1960, a group of local businessmen approached Carroll about leading a campaign to allow the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to provide electricity to McCracken County. TVA could provide electricity at a much lower cost, but voters would first have to hold a public referendum on buying out Kentucky Utilities, the private power provider in the area. Carroll agreed to lead the campaign, and nine months later, voters approved the buyout by a three-to-one margin.[15]

Political career

The TVA campaign had put Carroll squarely in the public eye in McCracken County, and in 1962, he was elected to the first of five consecutive terms representing the county in the Kentucky House of Representatives. He was chosen Speaker of the House from 1968 through 1970. In the 100-member House of Representatives, it was not uncommon for lobbyists to roam the floor freely, for members to bring their lunches to their desks, or for them to bring their friends and family members onto the floor during debate. Determined to bring a higher degree of decorum to the chamber's proceedings, Carroll opened the 1968 legislative session with a single, powerful whack of his gavel. The gavel shattered, stunning the legislators. Carroll subsequently barred outsiders from the floor during debate and forbade eating in the chamber. Carroll shattered three more gavels during the legislative session – he was finally given a sturdier one made of solid oak and formica – but he brought order to the chamber's proceedings. At the end of the session, a member of the opposing party declared from the floor "The decorum of this House has improved 100 percent... I must compliment the present Speaker of this House for ... eliminating the abominable practices. Today every member has a right to speak ... without fear of interruption and catcalls or being shouted down."[16] The legislator's compliment was followed by a standing ovation for Carroll.[17]

Carroll had considered running for the U.S. Senate in 1968, but dropped out of the race after just two weeks when he discovered that it would take well over $100,000 to run a competitive primary campaign.[18] In 1971, former governor Bert T. Combs sought a second term as governor and chose Carroll as his informal running mate.[14] (The governor and lieutenant governor were elected separately at the time.) Combs, an Eastern Kentucky native, sought geographic balance for the ticket by selecting Carroll, from the far-west Jackson Purchase.[11] Combs said he would provide the needed financing, and Carroll agreed to enter the race.[19]

Seven other Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor entered the race, the most formidable being sitting attorney general John B. Breckinridge.[20] While Combs lost to Ford in the gubernatorial primary, Carroll won the separate primary for lieutenant governor, partly on the strength of the eastern Kentucky votes he gained from his association with Combs.[14] Carroll went on to defeat Republican Jim Host in the general election for lieutenant governor.[14] As lieutenant governor, Carroll chaired the Legislative Research Commission and the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors.[2]

Governor of Kentucky

A black-and-white portrait of a man in his fifties wearing a suit
Wendell Ford's election to the U.S. Senate in 1974 elevated Carroll to governor

Governor Ford's allies encouraged Carroll to run for the U.S. Senate in 1974, but Carroll had already set his sights on the governorship.[14] Instead, Ford ran for and won the Senate seat, and Carroll succeeded him as governor.[2] In 1975, he sought a full term in office and won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in a four-way primary against Todd Hollenbach, Mary Louise Foust, and Robert McCreary Johnson.[10]

In the general election, Carroll faced Republican Robert E. Gable, a coal company owner from central Kentucky.[21] The main issue of the campaign was the imposition of desegregation busing on the city of Louisville.[21] Both candidates opposed the busing, but Gable did so more vehemently and criticized the sitting governor for not "doing something about it".[21] In a televised debate with Carroll, Gable insisted on using what he called a "truth bell".[22] Gable rang the bell every time that he perceived that Carroll was not telling the truth.[23] Eventually, the moderator of the debate ordered Gable to put the bell away, and Gable's credibility suffered in the eyes of voters.[23] Carroll won the general election by a vote of 470,159 to 277,998, representing a record margin of victory in the Kentucky governor's race.[24] He carried every congressional district including Jefferson County, where a Democrat had not won a race in twenty years.[25] His running mate, Thelma Stovall, became the first woman elected lieutenant governor of Kentucky.[10]

With considerable experience in the General Assembly – first as Speaker of the House, and later presiding over the Kentucky Senate as lieutenant governor – Carroll exercised a great deal of control over the proceedings of the legislature.[24] One observer quipped "A cockroach couldn't crawl across the Senate floor without an OK from the governor stamped on his back."[24] His reaction to criticism was often severe, prompting his political enemies to derisively refer to him as Emperor Julian.[24] During the final year of Carroll's term, Lieutenant Governor Stovall, who was left as acting governor when Carroll had left the state on business, called a special session of the legislature to enact a tax cut that Carroll opposed.[11] The General Assembly passed the tax cut, partly in retaliation for the governor's tight control of previous sessions.[26]

Carroll was charged with implementing an amendment to the state constitution approved by voters in 1975 to drastically reorganize the state's judicial system.[24] The Kentucky Court of Appeals, the state's court of last resort, was renamed the Kentucky Supreme Court, and a new Court of Appeals was created and interposed between the Supreme Court and the state's circuit and district courts.[24] The position of county judge was made a purely administrative position, and the office was renamed county judge/executive.[24] Historian Lowell H. Harrison opined that the amendment made Kentucky's legal system "a model for the nation."[24]

Improvements in public schools were the hallmark of Carroll's term.[11] Using money from a coal severance tax enacted by Ford's administration and increased revenue from an improving economy, Carroll increased teacher salaries and eliminated fees for required classes.[27] He strengthened the state's Minimum Foundation Program and provided free textbooks.[11] A School Building Authority was also created to help poor school districts construct new buildings.[27] Vocational and special education were expanded under the Carroll administration, and a program for gifted and talented students was piloted.[27] Consequently, Kentucky improved in most national educational benchmarks, including moving from forty-sixth to thirty-eighth nationally in teacher salaries.[11]

Higher education did not fare as well under Carroll. He cut the proposed budget for the state's Council on Higher Education by 40 percent.[27] Because of the considerable political clout of the Golden Triangle (Lexington, Louisville and Covington), the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Northern Kentucky University were spared the more severe budget cuts imposed on the state's regional universities.[27]

As governor of the leading coal-producing state in the nation, Carroll advocated the use of coal to alleviate the 1973 energy crisis.[28] He was called to testify before several congressional committees and served as an energy adviser to President Jimmy Carter.[28] At the state level, he created a department of energy and constructed "resource recovery roads" in the state's coalfield regions.[28] Among Carroll's other accomplishments were the initiation of a grant program to support the arts and the expansion of the state park system.[11][28] He was one of many who opposed the damming of the Red River, which would have flooded Red River Gorge.[28] Carroll was a supporter of a lemon law (that sought to provide a remedy for purchasers of cars that failed to meet quality standards) that was defeated in the 1976 legislative session.[28]

Carroll served as chairman of the National Governors Association in 1978.[2] He chaired the Association's Natural Resources and Environmental Management Committee and served on its Technology Committee.[7] He also served as the state's co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission.[10] He received honorary degrees from the University of Kentucky, Morehead State University, Murray State University, and Eastern Kentucky University in Kentucky, and from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.[7] He was named to the University of Kentucky Alumni Association's Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1975.[7]

Carroll's tenure was plagued by disasters, both natural and man-made. Flooding struck in the eastern part of the state and in the state capitol of Frankfort.[28] Extreme cold gripped the entire state in 1977 and 1978, including the Great Blizzard of 1978.[28] Two mine explosions in Letcher County killed 26 people, and the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire claimed 165 lives.[28] Many of these disasters led to stricter enforcement of safety laws.[28] Carroll formed the Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction and strengthened the state fire marshal's office.[28]

Carroll's credibility took a severe hit as a result of an investigation into an alleged insurance kickback scheme during the Ford administration and carrying on into his administration.[26] When called before a grand jury in 1980, Carroll invoked the Fifth Amendment.[26] He was not convicted of any wrongdoing, but his first state Democratic Party chairman, Howard P. "Sonny" Hunt, was.[26] The investigation also hurt commerce commissioner Terry McBrayer, Carroll's choice for governor in 1979.[26] McBrayer finished third out of five candidates in the Democratic primary that year.[26]

Later political career

After concluding his service as governor, Carroll resumed his law practice in Frankfort, Kentucky.[11] Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. made him chairman of a non-profit organization to fight drugs in 1983.[26] In 1987, he unsuccessfully sought another term as governor, finishing fifth in the Democratic primary behind Lieutenant Governor Steve Beshear, former governor John Y. Brown, Jr., Grady Stumbo, and the winner, Wallace G. Wilkinson.[29] Carroll again returned to his Frankfort law practice. In 2001, Kentucky's Purchase Parkway was renamed the Julian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway.[30] In 2003, Carroll actively lobbied the General Assembly to legalize casino-style gambling at the state's horse racetracks.[26]

State Senate

In 2004, Carroll was elected to the Kentucky Senate from District 7, defeating Harold Fletcher – the older brother of then-governor Ernie Fletcher – by a wide margin.[31] The district includes all or portions of Anderson, Fayette, Franklin, and Woodford counties.[32] He made headlines in 2007 when he called on Fletcher's lieutenant governor, Steve Pence, to resign for his disloyalty after Pence endorsed Anne Northup in the Republican gubernatorial primary rather than backing Fletcher's re-election bid.[33] Pence refused to resign, citing an investigation of the administration's hiring practices as his reason for refusing to endorse Fletcher.[33] Fletcher won the Republican primary, but lost in the general election to Democrat Steve Beshear.

Carroll was re-elected unopposed in 2008. In advance of the 2011 legislative session, Carroll unsuccessfully sought to replace retired Senator Ed Whorley as Democratic floor leader in the State Senate, losing to Senator R. J. Palmer.[34] Carroll blamed his contentious relationship with Senate President David L. Williams as the reason his colleagues were hesitant to choose him for the post.[34] On November 6, 2012, he defeated Republican Frank Haynes to retain his seat for another four years.[35]


  1. "Lay Minister, First Assembly of God." According to
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Kentucky Governor Julian Morton Carroll". National Governors Association
  3. 3.0 3.1 Conn, p. 47
  4. Conn, p. 50
  5. 5.0 5.1 Conn, p. 59
  6. Conn, p. 62
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 "Julian Morton Carroll". Hall of Distinguished Alumni
  8. 8.0 8.1 Conn, p. 66
  9. Conn, p. 67
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Powell, p. 112
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 Harrison in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, p. 165
  12. Conn, p. 78
  13. 13.0 13.1 Conn, p. 83
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Sprague, p. 217
  15. Conn, pp. 90–91
  16. Conn, p. 101
  17. Conn, pp. 98–101
  18. Conn, p. 103
  19. Conn, p. 104
  20. Conn, pp. 104–105
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Conn, p. 112
  22. Conn, pp. 112–113
  23. 23.0 23.1 Conn, p. 113
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 24.6 24.7 Harrison in A New History of Kentucky, p. 416
  25. Conn, p. 19
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 26.6 26.7 Sprague, p. 220
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 Sprague, p. 218
  28. 28.00 28.01 28.02 28.03 28.04 28.05 28.06 28.07 28.08 28.09 28.10 Sprague, p. 219
  29. Harrison in A New History of Kentucky, p. 420
  30. Kocher, p. A1
  31. Biesk, "Ex-Gov. Carroll wins Frankfort seat"
  32. "Senate District 7".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Senator Julian Carroll Says Lieutenant Governor Should Resign". WKYT
  34. 34.0 34.1 Brammer and Cheves, "Contentious first day for legislature"
  35. Cheves, "Republicans maintain commanding majority in state Senate"


  • Biesk, Joe (November 3, 2004). "Ex-Gov. Carroll wins Frankfort seat". The Enquirer. Retrieved January 4, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Brammer, Jack; John Cheves (January 5, 2011). "Contentious first day for legislature". Lexington Herald-Leader.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Cheves, John (November 6, 2012). "Republicans maintain commanding majority in state Senate". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved November 7, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Conn, Charles Paul (1977). Julian Carroll of Kentucky: the inside story of a Christian in public life. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company. ISBN 0-8007-0838-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Harrison, Lowell H. (1992). "Carroll, Julian Morton". In Kleber, John E. (ed.). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Associate editors: Thomas D. Clark, Lowell H. Harrison, and James C. Klotter. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. Retrieved January 2, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Harrison, Lowell H.; James C. Klotter (1997). A New History of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2008-X. Retrieved June 26, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Julian Morton Carroll". Hall of Distinguished Alumni. University of Kentucky Alumni Association. Retrieved January 4, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Kentucky Governor Julian Morton Carroll". National Governors Association. Retrieved April 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kocher, Greg (September 16, 2003). "Parkway to be Named for Collins – Road is Fifth, and Last, to Honor a Living Former Governor". Lexington Herald Leader.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Powell, Robert A. (1976). Kentucky Governors. Danville, Kentucky: Bluegrass Printing Company. OCLC 2690774.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Senator Julian Carroll Says Lieutenant Governor Should Resign". WKYT. March 2, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  • Sprague, Stuart Seely; Al Cross (2004). "Julian Morton Carroll". In Lowell Hayes Harrison (ed.). Kentucky's Governors. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2326-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Wendell H. Ford
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by
Thelma Stovall
Preceded by
Wendell H. Ford
Democratic nominee for Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by
John Y. Brown, Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Wendell H. Ford
Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by
Thelma Stovall
Preceded by
Wendell H. Ford
Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by
John Y. Brown, Jr.
Preceded by
Lindy Casebier
Kentucky State Senate, 7th District
Succeeded by