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Walter "Dee" Huddleston


In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1985
Preceded by John Sherman Cooper
Succeeded by Mitch McConnell

Born April 15, 1926 (1926-04-15) (age 83)
Burkesville, Kentucky
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jean Huddleston (deceased)
Alma mater University of Kentucky
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1944-1946
Battles/wars World War II

Walter Darlington "Dee" Huddleston (born April 15, 1926) is a retired American politician. He is a Democrat from the state of Kentucky. He represented Kentucky in the United States Senate from 1973 until 1985.

Huddleston was born in Burkesville, the seat of Cumberland County in south central Kentucky. After he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as a tank gunner in Europe during and after World War II from 1944 to 1946. He then attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington, from which he graduated in 1949.

Huddleston was a manager of radio stations in Kentucky from 1949 to 1972. He entered politics in 1964 when he was elected to the Kentucky State Senate. He served as a state senator from 1965 to 1972, and served for a time as the majority leader.

In 1972, Huddleston ran for the U.S. Senate seat which was being vacated by retiring Republican John Sherman Cooper. He defeated Republican Louie B. Nunn, a recent former governor, and received 51 percent of the vote. Huddleston was reelected in 1978 with 61 percent of the vote over the former Republican state Representative Louie R. Guenthner, Jr., of Louisville.

In 1984, Huddleston's Republican opponent was Jefferson County (Louisville) Judge-Executive Mitch McConnell. McConnell gained political traction with a series of television campaign ads making sport of Huddleston's attendance record in the Senate. Despite these ads, the race was very close, with McConnell only defeating Huddleston when the last returns came in (49.9-49.5 percent). It was likely that Huddleston would have won had it not been for Ronald Reagan's gigantic landslide in that year's presidential election (Reagan carried Kentucky by over 21 points). Despite the general perception that 1984 was a disaster for Democrats, Huddleston was the only Democratic senator to lose to a Republican challenger that year, while they already increased their number of Senators.

Huddleston was known as a member of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, as was typical of party members from Kentucky.

In the late 1980s, Huddleston was the head of the English Language Political Action Committee (a.k.a. "El Pac"). He currently serves on the National Board of Advisors of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

After leaving the Senate, Huddleston moved to Elizabethtown, the seat of Hardin County in west central Kentucky. In 1947, he married Jean N. Huddleston (1929-2004).

United States Senate
Preceded by
John Sherman Cooper
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
1973–1985
Served alongside: Marlow Cook, Wendell H. Ford
Succeeded by
Mitch McConnell
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