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1990-06-29 Interview with David Boswell, June 29, 1990 Leg001:90OH132 Leg 13 02:02:06 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Political campaigns -- Kentucky. Kentucky. General Assembly -- Committees. Kentucky. Bureau of Agriculture, Labor and Statistics Elections. Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll) Kentucky. Governor (1979-1983 : Brown) Kentucky. Governor (1983-1987 : Collins) Kentucky. Governor (1987-1991 : Wilkinson) Kentucky Education Assocation (KEA) Carroll, Julian interim committees Blandford, Don Agriculture Commissioner candidacy Collins, Martha Layne Wallace, Wilkinson Brown, John Y. Jr. Term/District:House (1978-1984), 7th district; Senate (1990- ), 8th district Counties in District: Union County (Ky.) -- Henderson County (Ky.) -- Daviess County (Ky.) -- Hancock County (Ky.) -- Ohio County (Ky.) David Boswell; interviewee William H. 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McCann Sr. [Pause in tape]. Afternoon. What is your name, please? BOSWELL: David Boswell. David E. Boswell. McCANN: What does the E stand for? BOSWELL: The E stands for Erle named after my grandfather Mulligan. His name was Erle A. Mulligan, and the spelling on that is a little bit unusual too. Most people spell it E-A-R-L and mine is E-R-L-E. So, that's how my grandfather spelled it and that's how I spell mine too. McCANN: Okay. And where were you born? BOSWELL: I was born in Henderson, Kentucky, November 20, 1949, and I'm from a pioneer family in Henderson County. My great-great-great-great grandfather settled in Henderson County in 1797 and I lived there until I was seven years old and then we moved, my father and my mother and the rest of the family, moved to Daviess County here. So I have a long line of-a tenacious line of roots here in this region. McCANN: Where did you go to school? BOSWELL: Well, I went to Holy Name Catholic School in Henderson and then St. Joseph and Paul Catholic School here in Daviess County. Spent two years in Seminary studying to be a catholic priest, and obviously that didn't fall together. Came back, finished up my high school at Owensboro Catholic High School and I attended Brescia College and Western Kentucky University, but did not get a degree from either institution, either facility. McCANN: How did you become interested in politics? BOSWELL: Well, my grandfather Mulligan was on the school board here in Daviess County, and as I grew up, I grew up campaigning with my grandfather. My granddad served on the board here from, I believe, almost forty years and was chairman of the board for twelve or fourteen years of that particular time that he served on the board. My grandfather through the years has been a, had been a very politically active person. He was an ardent supporter of the late Earle Clements and many of the other former governors that were successful, my grandfather had helped in various campaigns throughout his lifespan. So, that's how I ended up in politics in part. My family, all on my mother's side, I guess, there is a story about Irish politicians. My grandfather's last name was Mulligan. I had a great uncle who was a member of the Daviess Fiscal Court here and his last name was Riney. The Riney family here in this community has been politically active for many years, either assistant county clerks or sheriffs or what have you. So, it's pretty deep in my veins, politics, and government in general. I spent about eight and a half years, prior to my running for public office, in local government. I worked as a, for four years as the assistant city planner for Owensboro and Daviess County. So I had a real close working relationship with all the elected officials in our community, the mayor, and the city commissioners, and the county judge, executive, and also the county commissioners. So, all of those things just sort of added up to accumulate a burning drive in David Boswell, I guess, to seek public office. So, here we are today. McCANN: How did you get that first job as assistant city planner? BOSWELL: Well, it's interesting. I started out, went to vocational school. At the end of my junior year in high school I had two credits more than I needed to graduate from high school at the end of my junior year. But at that particular time it, they would not allow to go to college, go on and get your high school diploma and go on to college. It just wasn't done here. And so I had to go back my final year in high school and go through the motions, and so I decided to break the monotony by taking half a day at the vocational school here. So I went to Owensboro Vocational School and I took drafting, and completed a drafting course there at the end of my senior year of high school. And the drafting instructor came to me one day and said, "David, we've got a, I've got a job that you'd be good for." And I said, "Well, jobs are nice to have," you know. So, I went to work as a draftsman for the city of Owensboro, and then about a year later I was a mapmaker, a cartographer and drew maps and plots and what-have-you for the city. And about a year later the city and county merged their planning commissions and it became the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission, and I continued on as a draftsman for about, oh, two and a half years after that transition took place. And then the city planner at that time recognized that I could do other things besides sitting at a drafting table and draw maps all day long. I was promoted to the position of administrative assistant to the city planner, or to the metro planner, and I held that position for about, oh, I guess three years, two or three years. And then finally worked my way into the position of being the assistant city planner for the city and county. And so my, all of my, I guess you could say, my formal education has been through the university of knowledge and experience. And I'm one of the few, I guess my generation is probably the last generation that could truly do that, you know, at this day and time because we have a much different scenario that our young people are faced with as they get out of school than they did when I got out of school. But at that given time I spent about three or four years as assistant planning director for Owensboro and Daviess County, and one day I woke up and decided that I needed to have a career change. I had been active in the Young Democrats, been president of the Young Democrats here in Daviess County, had been the county chairman for Jimmy Carter for President when he ran the first time, and for the first time in the history of-well, for the first since Harry Truman, a Democrat carried Daviess County in the presidential election, in the general election. And so, one thing led to another. I just kept on getting involved, decided that I would run for the state legislature. So in August of, I believe it was about 1976, I left my employment with the planning commission and pretty much launched my political career fulltime and decided to run for the state repress--, for the state legislature. Interesting story how that evolved. The great uncle that I mentioned earlier on who was a county commissioner approached me one day and he said, "David, I've been sick and getting old, you know, older and I'm thinking that now is the time for me to step aside and let someone, you know, younger take over this office that I hold." He said, "why don't you run for county commissioner?" So I agreed to do that and, oh, about thirty days elapsed and passed by and he called me one day and he said, "David, I'd like to meet with you." So I went by his house and out there and he said, "David, I'm feeling better. I think I'd like to have this one more term." So I, you know, I had already committed myself to run for public office, so I said, "That's fine, I'll go ahead and, you know, you go ahead and run, I'll run for state representative." And the seat that I occupied for three terms was the seat that was held by a gentleman who lived not within the confines of Daviess County but two counties away. In the district that I represented and it's still basically the same, not basically, it's still the same boundary lines today as it was then, that's the 7th House District. The seat that's now occupied by Representative Sam McElroy from Waverly, Kentucky, but that district took in Daviess, part of Henderson which, again, going back to my roots in Henderson County, and all of Union County. So I lived in the smallest end of the district geographically and population-wise. And a fellow from here had made two attempts at winning that seats and lost both times. So it was sort of a fluke in the eyes of the general public out there that Boswell could win this thing in the first place. Number one, he's wet behind the ears, he's young, the guy has been there for four terms that hold the seat now, and this other fellow couldn't beat him, so Boswell can't win. So, in my eyes "can't never could be much." So we just rolled our shirtsleeves up and went to work at it and worked day and night, my family, my big family, not my immediate family is not, the big part of it but my mother was one of ten children and everyone of them have large families. So family and friends are very important in politics in getting there, number one. But performance falls in there too after you get there so, but we ran for that seat and won by 1,275 votes. And that was a landslide victory, you know, given the makeup of the district and what-have-you and unseating a four-term incumbent. McCANN: Which was who? BOSWELL: Joe McBride who now, I believe, works in the auditor's office in Frankfort. But Joe was a pretty powerful fellow. He was a, sort of a protege and close confidant of then Speaker of the House, Norbert Blume, and, of course, that was one term prior to Bill Kenton I think taking office as speaker back in the late '70s. But, so that's sort of what brought me here, you know, to the state level. Served in that capacity representing Daviess, Henderson, and Union counties for three terms. Fairly demanding district. That district is the largest corn, swine, and soybean producing district in the state of Kentucky. It was at that time the sixth largest underground mining, coalmining, district in the state of Kentucky. Sort of unique characteristics, number one in agricultural and ranking high in coal production but, and compatibly so at that time. I think there are a few strip mining operations in the district now but most of the mines were all underground mines, preserving the prime farmland on the surface. So, given the agricultural makeup of the district and my farm background, being raised on the family farms and helping to work land and having the interest in agriculture I decided that we might make a run for commissioner of agriculture. So- McCANN: Before you get into that, let's go back and discuss your terms in the legislature. What were the issues in that first race? Was it David Boswell wanted to get elected or were there specific problems that you saw with the incumbent that you wanted to correct? BOSWELL: Well, yes, there were several circumstances involved there and some somewhat unique in that this end of the 7th District, which takes in approximately three- fourths of Daviess County, excluding any of the city precincts, for many years had been somewhat unrepresented in Frankfort. I think the representative that was there felt that- well, you got Don Blandford who was now Speaker of the House representing a part of the county and a little piece of the city, you've got then Charlie Wible was state representative for the 13th District, which took in the balance of the city. And so I think that that gentleman felt that that was enough representation for Daviess County. But my people didn't think so, the people at my end of the county. I mean they respected those two gentlemen whose names I just mentioned, but we wanted a little bit say of our own. And so you take that and couple it with a deep-rooted situation in Henderson County with my family especially in the four precincts that went right across the southern part of Henderson County that acted as the connector for Union County. It's a dog bone shaped district. It was a classic case of gerrymandering at some point in time back in the history of redistricting. But education was in fact an important part of that campaign, and not specifically education, massive education reform as we've observed today. KEA, the Kentucky Education Association, played a very important role in my race for the state legislature. Number one, I think, they liked my ideas, but a close, close to number one is some of the votes that the gentleman that I beat had cast were not favorable to the Kentucky Education Association's legislative proposals, teachers salaries, also classroom size reductions and many other education related issues that apparently Mr. McBride had not favored their side. Of course, naturally that was a good star for me to hang my hat on and it certainly was a big help in my campaign. KEA played a very important role. So, yes, education did have a hand in that particular race, very important one. And I guess beyond that, my ambitions to serve in the legislature and to apply the experience that I'd gathered throughout the years in local government to help better serve the people of our community here. McCANN: Mr. McBride is a Democrat. Did you have a Republican opposition in the fall? BOSWELL: No, I've not had Republican opposition-this is the second time, the opposition I face during this fall. Hadn't, I had Republican opposition when I ran for commissioner of agriculture, but beyond that I've never had a Republican opponent. McCANN: What were you able to accomplish in your three terms of legislation? BOSWELL: I'm proud of an independent legislature that we have-of the independent legislature that we have today. And I'm proud to have been a part of the initial move toward legislative independence. When I first took office as state representative, we were under the, still under the strong dominance of the governor. And I think you indicated earlier that you had interviewed Julian Carroll. Julian Carroll was governor when I took over. And Julian possessed an uncanny ability to work with the legislature with force, but at the same time give the legislature, respective legislators what they're, at least some reasonable amount of what they required for their district. You know, be it through bridge projects or better highways, particular projects that that legislator maybe, may have been interested in to take back home to their, to his people. He had an uncanny way of getting votes to get what he wanted done in the legislature. And it was good as long as that governor knew that it was a give-and-take scenario, you see. And then, of course, when John Y. Brown took over as governor it was a different situation. He didn't understand the legislative process, did not understand in the initial stages of his term in office how to work with the legislature. And that's when the big push came on for legislative independence to give us truly what I see today as three levels of government as it is supposed to have existed at the hands of our forefathers who wrote the Constitution. And that's the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branch of government, all three working independently of one another but working together, you see. And so I'm proud to have been a part of that. I'm proud I've been a part of-I fought hard for our farmers when I served in the legislature, supported the agricultural bonding legislation to provide lower interest-rate loans to our farmers. At that time we were experiencing terrible problems not only here in Kentucky but nationally. I could gone on and on all afternoon about that but- McCANN: Well, why don't you give us a little more detail about that in any event? BOSWELL: Okay. Farm foreclosures, and as I see it, it evolved basically as a result of an insensitive leadership in Congress and in Washington, D.C. in general, relevant to understanding that agriculture is the very foundation block of the nation's economy and-excuse me just one second. McCANN: Yeah. BOSWELL: You need this room? [Pause in tape]. Hang on just a second. Yeah. There we go. Yeah, she went the other way. Okay. Going back to the problem as I observed it, inconsistent farm policy in Washington, D.C. at the hand of Congress put the farmers of this country in a terrible situation of not knowing how to design their farming operations to meet the needs of the demands of Congress had dictated relevant to international marketing. We had, for example, one US Secretary of Agriculture to urge the grain farmers of this country to knock their fencerows out and plant from fencerow to fencerow, you raise it, you produce it and we'll sell it abroad and it's unlimited potential. So the farmers did just that. They went out and knocked the fencerows out and planted, and then we had a change in the administration in Washington, D.C. with the president who levied embargos on the Soviet Union and Japan relevant to our grain markets. And as a result of that it put many of the grain farmers of the country on their knees, you know, and virtually out of business. So, my drive was to provide, was number one, to try to help farmers who were caught up in the middle of that have a mechanism to refinance their farming operations where they could survive. And we were successful in getting several mechanisms through the legislature. One, Congress pulled a switch act on us in the midst of Gramm-Rudman they made it where it would, where money, lower interest rate money could not be used to refinance farms, but could only be used through the bonding process. The sale of bonds could only be used to help new starting farmers, which circumvented our initial purpose for pushing, on such legislation. But there were other mechanisms that we worked to provide lower interest rate money to farmers, working through coordinating efforts through private banks, sort of a referral service more or less, but I worked hard to do that when I was in the House of Representatives. So, the farm issue was in fact there in the early stages of my political career. And we worked hard on that. Education as I mentioned, I know there were probably many other areas that we-I chaired several subcommittees. At that time we were in the middle of the energy crisis and I was, and still am, an advocate of synthetic fuel development. I think we're gonna have to wake up one of these days, bite the bullet, and spend whatever money is necessary to follow through with the technology on coal conversion into liquid energy. And I chaired the subcommittee on Energy Marketing, Production, and Utilization and also chaired a subcommittee on Consumer Affairs. So I, you know, consider myself sort of a pretty diversified public servant at that time, and still look at myself along those lines as being a public servant and also diversified in trying to understand the needs of our people. McCANN: What role did you play, more specifically, what role did you play in bringing about legislative independence? BOSWELL: Worked very, very closely with the now Speaker of the House, Don Blandford. And we had sort of a coalition that we had formed with the Jefferson County delegation and we had a pretty effective clique, if you would've called it that for the lack of a better word to use-and we voted with blocs of votes. Bill Kenton, I will give him a lot of credit for legislative independence. He was more or less the godfather of the movement and we lent our support to Speaker Kenton in pushing for constitutional amendments, such as the one that restructured the Constitution to allow for there to be one year of experience time after a legislator is elected to the House and half the Senate, of course. When I first went to the legislature you were elected in November, held your right hand up January the 1st and you went to work immediately, which in some cases that's a good way to get experience, but when you're dealing with a multi-billion dollar budget and complex issues of the day, I think overall it's better for that individual that we send to Frankfort or to Washington, D.C. or wherever for that matter, the courthouse or-there should be a built-in timeframe for that individual to get, to gather experience. And so the constitution was changed. I don't really recall all the details, but today when a legislator is elected, they're elected in November, after the November election, they take office in January and then there's one year in there before the legislature convenes that they have an opportunity to observe and participate in the interim committee system. And, you know, I find today, just like yesterday I was out in the community and some guy said, "How much does this big job that you're running for pay?" And I said, "Well, I think the monthly salary itself is like $750 a month and then you get a per diem when the legislature is in session and then you get $150 for every interim committee meeting that you attend." He said, "Well, hell, you only meet for sixty days every two years, that sounds like an awful lot of money to me." So, you know, a lot, there's an element of the general public out there that to this day do not understand the legislative process, they do not understand that it's a very time consuming situation. And I hope to be able to work a little harder to turn that attitude around. I think people need to know that you just, you don't drop what you're doing and, for sixty days every two years and run off to Frankfort. There's been, many people lose their businesses, law practices go down the hill, and everything else, you know, as a result of the time that they have to spend away from their businesses, so- McCANN: Who was in, you mentioned [audio malfunction; unintelligible]- BOSWELL: Let's see, Jim Dunn who, part of the Jefferson County delegation. Jim is no longer a member of the House, he's retired. He was defeated some years back. He served as House majority whip. Let's see, Steve Wilborn who is now an assistant to the speaker. Steve was a part of that group. Steve is from Shelby County. Buel Guy who is now top aide of the speaker, from Allen County, he was a part of that group. I could go on and on. Most all of them, we had a good line of supporters in Jefferson County. Former state representative, Al Bennett was a part of that group. Jim Yates, Representative Jim Yates from Jefferson County, who is still in the House today, was and still is a part of that group. Jerry Bronger who is the state representative there, he was a part of that group also. I think every legislature has the same scenario. I mean you've got, in the Senate you had the Black Sheep Squadron; in the House at that time, or in recent times there was a group that called themselves the, I'm trying to recall, a group from sort of the Bluegrass region there, Roger Noe was a part of it- McCANN: The Young Turks, is that- BOSWELL: Young Turks, that's it, yeah, the Young Turks. So, you know, every session, I guess, has its own pack of bloc votes. Some call them renegades, it all depends on what side of the fence you're on. If you're, you know, if they're allies they are the good guys, if they're not, they're renegades, you know. But it, and it's a situation that works too, you know. I'm always, have alluded to in speeches around the state in promoting the legislative process, you know, it's amazing when you go to the House chamber as a visitor, an observer and you're in the galleries and you, it's your first trip to Frankfort and maybe even your fifth or sixth trip to Frankfort and you look down on the floor of the House when the House is in session, and it looks like a Damascene bazaar. I mean, you know, people are shouting back and forth at one another and people milling around all over the floor, and here's a reporting clerk reading a piece of legislation and it looks almost impossible that anything can be achieved, especially anything positive could achieved through that kind of process. But most people, I don't think, realize that the real work, the nuts and bolts work, is all achieved in the committee, through the committee process. And I tell people that, you know, the state of Kentucky is like a giant jigsaw puzzle and you assemble all those legislative districts and it all comes together as one commonwealth. And that's the truth because our state is so diversified in geography and the nature of the people that we have out there. You've got basically four regions: you got eastern Kentucky, you got western Kentucky, you got central Kentucky, and, well five, actually you got northern Kentucky which is a little world all of its own sometimes, and then you got southern Kentucky. And the heritage of the people that live in all of those regions, there's a long history behind where they come from, how they got there, and then-but it's, the legislative process is exciting to me because of that. I guess that's one of the more enjoyable parts is the excitement and the intrigue of the different people that you get to meet, and you come together to work to solve problems and I can ramble so you- McCANN: How many members were in that group? And what was your [audio malfunction; unintelligible] the name the media gave it, I'm not sure which (laughs). BOSWELL: We didn't really have a, it's interesting because the Black Sheep in the Senate, had their name and the Turks and-now, the Turks different situation. I think there were like five or six members of that little coalition. And in the case of Don Blandford being Speaker of the House, the Young Turks had a role in that because the race was so close at that time that I mean five votes made the difference. And so they, in that particular scenario, they were a very powerful and influential group. In our case we didn't really have a name for ourselves, it was just sort of the Boswell-Blandford coalition, you know. And, but we didn't really have a, I'm sure that some of the people that were not on our side had names for us but names that I probably couldn't mention here this afternoon, but it was a very workable situation that we put together. And we didn't abuse it. I mean there is always room for abuse in power situations like that, but we used it for what we felt, you know, it's for the good of our people that we represented and the good for the people of the state. McCANN: What did you do? BOSWELL: Well just in general, various pieces of legislation. You have to remember that there's an average of, well, today I think there's twelve or fourteen hundred pieces of legislation that the legislature considered during this last session. At that particular time it may have been eight or nine hundred pieces of legislation. And believe me when I say that sometimes protecting the public from what certain pieces of legislation can do is an achievement in itself in the legislature, and weeding through legislation that would have a positive connotation for your people or a negative one, you know, it's easy to recognize that. So, you use that bloc of vote, you know, to head off legislation that may have an adverse impact on the various parts of our state. As far as major coups are concerned, we never had a major coup, I think, other than the fact that Speaker Blandford, now Speaker Blandford, tried to unseat then Speaker Kenton and it didn't work. And that was an interesting scenario too. It leads to the power of the chair in that some of the people that were a part of our little coalition with Speaker Kenton, obviously because there may have been several of those people that held committee chairmanships that were threatened. I mean, there were things that you could do that didn't involve the main man and get away with it and then there were things that you couldn't get away with and it's obvious that those members that held chairmanships at the time valued their chairmanships and didn't feel that Don Blandford had the number of votes that he needed to pull the deal off so, I think those folks were just not willing to throw themselves into the lion's den for a, to lose their chairmanships. So- McCANN: Why did Don Blandford want to run? I mean obviously there's, you know, the power of the chair that you alluded to, but why particularly, what did he find wrong with Kenton that he wanted to unseat him? BOSWELL: It was, I don't think that it was ever in Don's eyes, and this is an opinion and one that we shared. It's an interesting question you ask there. I don't think it was ever the fact that Don had anything against Bill Kenton and his way of doing things, because later on after that race, Don Blandford and I both committed our support to Bill Kenton for governor a week before he died. But as much as it was that Don felt that he'd served at that time from 1968 to 19--, that was along about 1978 or '80 that that race took place, and Don felt that he'd been in the legislature for a long time and felt that it was either a do now or never situation. And as it turned out it didn't, you know, it didn't happen that way. He did lose, but he did come back and made a second run at it after Speaker Kenton had passed away and Speaker Bobby Richardson had taken office. Then, I think, some of the people that couldn't support Don in the last race came to him and started to give their committed support to him to be speaker, and part of that group, and it's the group we did mention earlier and that's the Young Turks. So, to answer your question, it never was an attitude that Speaker Blandford had that was one of, "I don't like what Kenton is doing." It was one that, I want my turn at the helm. McCANN: What are the issues in a race like that? BOSWELL: Well, it's not as much issues, very few issues, if any that I can think of, as much as his commitment of support to help with projects in your district, to help engineer projects in the district through the complex A&R Committee process or commitments of committee chairmanships, those are always elements and factors in a leadership race, especially the speaker's race. But issues are not very often a part of those type of races, and I'm not saying whether they should be or whether they should not be. I mean if they could be, because if you have an influential group such as KEA or such as AFL-CIO that in fact do have votes that they can count on in membership-you know, if you're running for speaker, if you say, you know, okay, you need KEA or AFL-CIO or whatever group, you need this particular measure engineered through, I'll help you do that if you help me get elected speaker. I need Representative Jones, this one and that one who's very responsive to AFL-CIO or to KEA. And I use those two groups as examples only and not as fact that they would do anything like that, but the potential is there for that to happen, yes. I can't recall, don't think that that happened in Don's race. There were special interests, I think, involved in the previous speaker's race from the standpoint of collaring legislators, I think, you know, special interest groups and what have you and so- McCANN: Did Don Blandford run for speaker to succeed Bill Kenton, and why didn't he, if he did, why didn't he win that time? When Bobby Richardson became speaker? BOSWELL: No, he did not run at that time. He did not run at that time. I think he, Don is a, Blandford is a fellow that contains a lot of pride and he truly felt that he had enough votes and enough commitments to win the first time. And I believe that it took a period of time in there for him to regain his confidence in maybe the process or parts of the process. Because I can remember him shaking his head saying, "I know I had the votes. I know the votes were there." And when time came for them to be counted they weren't there. And so I think that stunned him and it stunned him for a pretty good period of time there, and then when different legislators started to approach him to run again, then I think his attitude was, "Okay, you get me the commitments in blood and I'll commit to run. And basically that's what happened. Of course, he ran in, during the interim there. He ran for speaker pro tem and won, you see. So, I think he, you know, the first race was an educational experience for him, and I speak for that just like it has been for me. You know, I made a jump from commissioner of agriculture to lieutenant governor and I had many people say, "Hey, you can't do that, you know, that's too big of a bullet to bite, you need to back up and take another avenue and then look at that down the road." And I didn't listen and, of course, Don didn't listen either in his, but he backed up and he took Plan B. And Plan B was to run for speaker pro tem and reestablished his commitments and support and get his forces back together, I guess, and then make the run for speaker. And I won't say that's what my plan is. My plan is to win the Senate seat in November and stay put and try to work my way up in leadership in the Senate. McCANN: Was his first race very close? Do you remember the votes? BOSWELL: I don't remember what the total was but it wasn't close, it was not close. There were maybe seventeen or eighteen votes and, you know, when you're talking in terms of, you know, sixty-five or, sixty-five, yeah, approximately sixty-five votes out there that can vote in the, you know, it's a, that's a pretty substantial loss. So, but it set him back just like mine did me, you know, you back up ten yards and scratch your head and try to muster up enough nerve or lack of good judgment to do it again (both laugh). McCANN: I recall the, I didn't even hear about the first race that I can recall, but the second race that he made against Bobby Richardson there was talk about that in the media and it was a rather acrimonious event. A little detail on that? BOSWELL: Well, I think there were those that Bobby alienated and-Bobby made an outstanding majority floor leader. He was majority floor leader when Kenton was speaker. Made an outstanding majority floor leader. But once he got-there are those that feel that the power that he achieved as speaker went to his head, you know. He forgot his friends, forgot where he came from, how he got there, who helped him to get there. And I think that was a driving force that motivated Don Blandford to run. And there were, you know, Don came up the hard way. I'm not saying that he was a deprived child. He came from a good family, but he worked for everything that he accumulated, and has worked for everything that he has accumulated in life. Graduated from high school, got a job at Kroger's as a butcher and that's what he was when he ran for the legislator, a butcher. And, you know, there were some of the more learned members of the legislature, I think, that felt that he didn't have the, what it took to be an effective leader because of his lack of education. And in some cases that's true but, you know, you can't, you have, you know people's capacity to teach themselves vary and Don has taken advantage well of his means of obtaining an education. And, but so, you know, there were several factors and it did get a little nasty, it got a little nasty at times. McCANN: And were there simply [audio malfunction; unintelligible] or was it, were there issues in this particular case? BOSWELL: Personalities and- [End of Tape #1, Side #1] [Begin of Tape #1, Side #2] BOSWELL: Told it like it was. McCANN: Okay, it's back on. BOSWELL: Okay. Were did we leave of? McCANN: The second race that was made and whether or not there were, whether it was attitude or issues or both involved? BOSWELL: Well I think, just my observation, Bobby apparently had made some commitments that he could not carry through and obviously irritated the people that he made commitments to, the legislators. They felt that they'd been not dealt with fairly and so several factors in my judgment played a hand there in that- McCANN: What kinds of commitments? BOSWELL: Committee chairmanships. As I mentioned earlier on there are not a whole, a great deal of commitments that one can make outside of committee chairmanships, or co-chairmanships, or positioning yourself, you know, to get what you want for your district whether it is through the budget process or whatever. McCANN: Why couldn't he keep those commitments with that kind of position? BOSWELL: Well, I don't know other than the fact that he may have double committed. I mean you've only got one Energy Committee, you've only got one Agriculture Committee, you've only got one of Business Organizations and Professions, and I can't address whether or not it was inadvertent or what but, you know, there, I think there were some double commitments made, I think. McCANN: What kind of role did you play in that race? BOSWELL: I was always an out-front supporter of Don Blandford's. We've been friends for many, many years. Our families have been friends for many years. Don took it upon himself to help me as a freshman legislator with a better understanding of how the process works, how the committee process works. Having been a veteran as he was when I got there, he just sort of helped me along, you know, and I was very appreciative of that and always offered my support and helped get votes for him lined up in both his races- well, all three of his races, his unsuccessful speaker's race, his successful speaker pro tem's race. And as a matter of fact he unseated a fellow colleague of mine in Henderson who, you know, I had part of Henderson County in my legislative district and he had the other part. Now he unseated David Thomason who held that seat for one, or held that office for one term, see. McCANN: Held what? The legislator? BOSWELL: The office of speaker pro tem. That was Don's second race and then, of course, his third race was his successful race for the speaker's position and now, I think, he holds record of being the longest termed speaker in the history of the state of Kentucky. McCANN: Why did you run for the legislature or for the [audio malfunction; unintelligible]- BOSWELL: Well, as I mentioned earlier on in the interview, because of the general makeup of my district, primarily agricultural, my background, family background, I felt that that was an area that-and let's face it, you know, at that time I aspired to be lieutenant governor and that was a factor. Of course, Don Blandford being in a leadership position in the House made it hard for me to move up in House leadership, in the House leadership, because it's very rare that you have two leadership office holders out of the same county. It just would not have been a very well perceived situation in the eyes of our colleagues. So, at my own direction I opted to leave the legislature to pursue a political career, taking a different avenue. McCANN: What were the issues in that race? BOSWELL: Oh, let's see, the best I can recall there were two, there were four of us in that race. Tom Harris had opted to run again, he's a former commissioner of agriculture. The sitting commissioner of agriculture, Ward Burnette, was a candidate in that race, and let's see, an attorney, a Lexington attorney, by the name of Gatewood Galbraith was a candidate and, of course, myself. I think there were just four of us. Again, the problems that I've mentioned earlier on, farm credit problems, marketing problems, unrest in the farm community, they were issues. But at the same time another issue that I tried to bring to the forefront and was successful in doing so, I think we got more votes in eastern Kentucky and in Jefferson County in that race than had ever been cast in the race for commissioner of agriculture before because I managed to appeal to the labor vote, I managed to appeal to the eastern Kentucky vote primarily through the coal industry there in highlighting the fact that one out of four jobs in the state owed his very existence to some form of agriculture, whether you drive a truck, whether you mine coal to process farm machinery, whether you work in a processing plant that processes what the farmer produces, the paper industry, you know, on and on. And I was successful in selling that to the public through a campaign slogan that we used, "Kentucky soil touches all of us." And we had a poster made up with yours truly here pouring dirt from one hand to the other, you know, with the slogan underneath. And it was interesting that after that, after I had won my race then I got a call from the National Archives and they had, they'd somehow or another had heard about the poster that we used and they asked that I dispatch a couple of those posters to the Archives so-but I'm rambling here. But to get to the point, that was an issue in fact, jobs, and economic development, and showcasing what a progressive agriculture means to a strong economy here in our state and in the nation. McCANN: You were obviously known statewide through your legislative colleagues but you weren't known statewide to the general populace, certainly I've managed to keep up with politics over the years, I hadn't heard of you before you ran. BOSWELL: Yeah. McCANN: How did you get out the message, I'm Dave Boswell and I'm the best candidate for this job and you need to be as interested in me in Ashland as you are in Henderson? BOSWELL: I had established a good relationship with my colleagues in the House especially, and I want to say that there were several reasons that other legislators got involved in my race. Some of them were based on friendship, true friendship, some were based on maybe a heated governor's race in that particular legislator's district that they didn't want to get involved in so they picked a race, one that they could be-receive as few scars as possible and that was comm.--, you know, let's face it, a lot of people just don't care who the commissioner of agriculture is. If they don't make their living directly off the farm or farm related industry, it's of no concern to them, of little concern. Let's just, I won't go so far as to say no concern, but some support came through that avenue. "I don't want to get involved in the governor's race, I can't help you, I'm working for David Boswell," you know, and that was in part a factor. But I'm comfortable in feeling, or in my statement that I had established a lot of friends the six years that I served in the House. McCANN: Who in the legislature supported you? What role did they play? BOSWELL: Well, I had several key people. Of course, Don Blandford was my campaign chairman when I ran for commissioner of agriculture. I had several Jefferson County legislators that were very active in my campaign. Paul Clark was very active in my campaign. Jim Dunn, who has been a longtime friend, was very active in my campaign from an organizational standpoint. He helped me put together a very strong organization in Jefferson County. I had Bremer Ehrler, who is now secretary of state, was the co- chairman in my bid for commissioner of agriculture, along with former Jefferson County sheriff, Joe Greene. And so it was just sort of a domino effect that we, you know, former friends that had served in the legislature. "Jitter" Allen from eastern Kentucky, and another former legislator from his district, Bill Reynolds, who is now diseased. Just a good broad network of people out there that wanted to see David Boswell commissioner of agriculture. And, of course, when it came to the second race statewide for lieutenant governor, it got to be so regional. At that time my race for commission of agriculture wasn't exactly a regional situation. In the lieutenant governor's race you had Paul Patton who was from eastern Kentucky, very popular up there. Well see, that took away from my support that I had when I ran for commissioner of agriculture, that and David _____(??) running. In Jefferson County, no one from Jefferson County ran for commissioner of agriculture. I was the only kid on the block and when the lieutenant governor's race came around, we had two candidates out of Jefferson County, two very popular people: one in David Armstrong, the other in Alice McDonald. In the central part of the state you had Brereton Jones, who is now lieutenant governor, very popular horseman in the area. I ran good, fairly good in there when I ran for commissioner of agriculture, you see. So, my base geographically had been eroded away because of these people, popular people that came from the various regions. McCANN: How did you organize your commissioner of agriculture race? Was it by congressional district for example, a legislative district, county, you know, how did you go about organizing? BOSWELL: The best I can recall, we broke it down into two levels. We organized it on a congressional district basis and then broke it down into maybe area development districts and just worked at it from that angle. McCANN: How did you go about working the state? Did you- BOSWELL: I visited all 120 counties in a motor home, interesting way of doing it and I enjoyed it. It was educational. I got to meet a lot of people, interesting people, a fellow by the name of Anderson Hatfield over in Letcher County who was the great grandson of Hans Hatfield of the Hatfields and McCoys, and a lot of interesting and different people, and good people. McCANN: Why did you choose to do it that way instead of the more traditional way of going to the big cities? BOSWELL: Well now I did that. I worked the big cities also. McCANN: Well, you know, I mean going to all the 120 counties you have to, but, you know, more traditionally you'd say you'd go to Lexington and get their media coverage and that would cover X number of counties and you go to northern Kentucky in one or two places and that would cover X number of counties, as opposed traveling in there- BOSWELL: Well, at that particular time I didn't have a press person per se, I didn't have a media consultant. I was my own press person, my own media consultant, didn't have the money. Money is a very important factor in these races unfortunately. Unfortunately, we select our choice of candidates based on what they say on television or what type of advertising they pay for to project whatever they want, message they want to project. And I know that we, there is no way possible for us to go back to the old stump speaking process where you line the candidates up and let them address the people in numbers as to what they're really made of and how they feel on issues and what they propose to do to attack this problem or that problem. It's unfortunate we can't do that anymore. But it's gotten to be a money situation and it's disheartening for me. I hope some time down the road there will be some means of responsible campaign reform that will circumvent some of that. As I mentioned earlier on off the tape, you know, according to today's standards I think Al Capone could be president of the United States, because he would have had the money enough to project on television an image to the public that obviously would not have been the image of his true background. But something needs to be done. McCANN: How much did it cost you to run for commission of agriculture? BOSWELL: I don't know exactly. It seems like $395,000 or something like that, somewhere in that general vicinity. And you can't do it today. You may be able to for that office, but any office, any other office, especially lieutenant governor, your higher profile offices; attorney general probably, you couldn't run one for that. But to run for lieutenant governor or governor it takes millions of dollars, millions of dollars. McCANN: Where did you focus your attention in running for commissioner of agriculture? BOSWELL: I focused my attention during the race, appealing as I mentioned earlier on to, you know, the farm community here in our state is a powerful and strong group but they're also fragmented. I knew that if I had to depend solely in that race on the farm community to get me elected I probably would not have won because there sat Tom Harris, former commissioner of agriculture, you know, one who had been well connected in the farm community. So I realized that I had to reach out beyond just the farm community. I wanted the farm community and got a good deal of the farm community, the younger farmers and what-have-you, but I knew I had to reach out beyond that and appeal to the working people of the state, the blue-collar worker, the, you know, organized labor, AFL-CIO, building trades, UMWA, coalminers. I knew that I had to reach out to the Kentucky Education Association, organized schoolteachers, you know, and we did just that. I mean it was a perfect campaign in my eyes. McCANN: What was the factor that [audio malfunction; unintelligible]- BOSWELL: Endorsements and support by a lot of those groups that I mentioned. Probably the first, I know I was the first candidate for commissioner of agriculture every to be endorsed by the Kentucky Education Association. I do not know, I don't, well, I think AFL-CIO had endorsed in the past other candidates for, I think they had endorsed. But getting those endorsements meant an awful lot as they do today. The only way you can overcome large volumes of dollars that may be spent by your opponents is to organize from the grassroots on up and go to the precinct levels and go door to door and get the endorsement, and not just in paper endorsement, I'm talking about the enthusiastic endorsement of these groups. Then you can overcome the dollars in most cases. McCANN: Why did KEA endorse you? BOSWELL: Well, I guess based on interviews. I agreed with their legislative proposals on smaller classroom sizes, improved teachers' salaries, increased per-pupil expenditures, and generally, just a general agreement with their legislative proposals. McCANN: Why would it matter for KEA what your, whether you agreed with them on that or not? BOSWELL: Well, it didn't. I feel like that they recognized a friend in David Boswell and I was a friend of theirs and still am a friend of theirs. I've been endorsed by KEA in this bid for the state Senate. And call it whatever you want to call it, they may have envisioned that support is an investment. I mean it's good politics for them to look at these other office seekers, especially those that are aspiring, those that may have the potential, you know, to get from A to Z. And so I think, you know, that was, while they had no direct interest educationally in to who-the commissioner was, and to a degree they did have an investment there because of the, you know, the Vo-Ag programs, you know. We, while the Department of Education actually is the vehicle for that program, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture acts as the support to the FFA program, puts money in the FFA. And so there were an element of teachers out there especially in the rural areas that recognized that. And you'd be surprised of the number of schoolteachers out there that are also farmers, you know, they-or whose wives or whose husbands may be farmers. McCANN: After winning the [audio malfunction; unintelligible] campaign what kind of an organization did you set up for that if you did? BOSWELL: I had served in the legislature with Richard Turner. Richard was my opponent. Richard is now a ranking member of the Republican legislative delegation in Frankfort. While I felt that I was a part of a very strong ticket, you know, I intended to take the campaign very seriously and do whatever I had to do my part to get the job done. We had a strong ticket. We had Martha Layne Collins seeking the governor's office. We had Steve Beshear, lieutenant governor. We had David Armstrong as the attorney general. We had, oh, Alice McDonald, of course, for superintendent of public instruction. And let's see, I think Frances Jones Mills was in there, Drexell Davis was part of it, auditor and secretary of state. So we had a good strong ticket and I enjoyed my position with that ticket. I felt comfortable about my position with that ticket, but at the same time being the aggressive candidate that I've always been I took nothing for granted and worked at it from every angle I could work at it day and night. McCANN: What did you do? BOSWELL: Well, as a ticket we traveled around the state in various Democratic rallies, and I backtracked and went to places that I had gone initially when I announced my candidacy. The first place I went to after I had made my mind up to run for commissioner of agriculture, the first public announcement I made was in Harlan, Kentucky. Interesting is to why it may be Harlan, but I had friends in Harlan, friends that live here that had connections in Harlan and so I backtracked a lot, went back to different places that I'd gone to, and just to solidify and reconnoiter the forest, whatever you want to call it. And enjoyed doing so. McCANN: What [audio malfunction; unintelligible]. BOSWELL: Primarily the same issues and the same concerns. Richard Turner is a, was an aggressive campaigner. I don't recall as much about the general election as, I guess, because it maybe feel like you're a little bit more in a comfortable position, but I don't recall a lot of the specifics about my race with Richard Turner. I think it was a, it obviously had to have been a fairly pleasant race or I would have some things that would reach out and-of course, I beat Richard by 275,000 votes, I think, and that probably, I mean that made (laughs), pretty comfortable victory. The best I can recall it was a very, very large sum of votes that I won by, maybe more than that, but I think it was an experience that I needed to have, to have Republican opposition or fall opposition. McCANN: Once you were elected, how did [audio malfunction; unintelligible]- BOSWELL: Basically the transition was a, it was a good, a smooth transition. Then Commissioner Barkley had been very cooperative in the move, the transition between his administration and mine. I had primarily a one-man transition team. My deputy commissioner went on board in the Department of Agriculture as an employee of the Barkley administration about six weeks prior to him leaving office and me taking over. And the management staff that Commissioner Barkley had familiarized my deputy with, you know, with the division process and merit and non-merit, and fortunately the fellow that I put in there as the deputy had some background degree, a degree of knowledge in state government, state employees, and what-have-you, so- McCANN: Who was your deputy? BOSWELL: John Heflin, a local here, he's a local fellow. John had been a friend of mine for a long time. McCANN: Had he played much of a role in your campaign? BOSWELL: Yes, some. Not as, more of a local role in my campaign rather than a statewide structural campaign. He pretty well organized my campaign rallies and fund raisers and what-have-you here and, but outside of Daviess County he played very little role in the campaign at all. McCANN: How did you select him as your deputy? BOSWELL: Well, I had known him for a long time. Our friendship goes back to about 1970 and he's a good manager, a good organizer, a good doer, and I trusted him. It's important I think that given the stage production that you have to go through to get these offices that we have in Kentucky-you know, I didn't design the system, it's a, you just have to work within the system-but it's important that you put people around you that you can trust and that you can depend on and he was one that I could trust and one that I could depend on to follow through. So, that's how he ended up there. McCANN: How did you go about organizing your department? Who did you select for the various major positions and- BOSWELL: Well, we restructured the organization of the department. The old system, I think, had some flaws in it. I think Commissioner Barkley had two deputy commissioners with separated areas of responsibility, division, supervision wise. No, he didn't either. He had two deputies with no defined separation of division responsibilities. I didn't think that was a good workable way of administrating a department that is somewhat fragmented in the first place, because it's not all under one roof. Somewhat, well, the Department of Education at least enjoys its Frankfort-no, it's also fragmented. You've got divisions that are scattered all over town. Well, it's hard to administer an operation like that. So, rather than have two deputies I opted to have one deputy. And then I had two principal assistants that had, that supervised, or from the standpoint-not supervised but they were, had the-well yeah, they had the responsibility of monitoring the operation of twelve different divisions. Then you've got Animal Health and you've got Marketing, you've got Pesticides and just different divisions, primarily regulatory functions under the Department of Agriculture's jurisdiction. And so I put those two principal assistants in them, in a supervisory capacity over-one of them had six divisions, the other had six divisions. McCANN: Who were those individuals? BOSWELL: Let's see, Helen Helton, who is an attorney now in Danville, Kentucky. McCANN: H-E-L-T-O-N? BOSWELL: Uh-huh. And let's see, trying to recall here. Let's see how we had that structured. Fred Waters was there for a short time, and he had charge of X number of divisions. John Heflin had, when Fred left John took over, I think, the functions that Fred had as supervisor of X numbers of divisions. Let's see, of course, Tom Gramm had a very, very important function in my administration initially as administrative, director of administrative services. And Tom was very, very capable. I was really high on Tom. Let's see, I'm trying to recall here. Marketing director, let's see, we had Steve Callahan was the director of marketing. He was retired from Farm Bureau, retired from the University of Kentucky marketing specialist, well connected. I tried to put people of, you know, the respective expertise in their fields in those positions; you're only as good as the people that you surround yourself with. And some of the division directors, people like Charlie Prebble and Coburn Gayle and people like that that'd been there for years, I kept on board. Again, because when you're at the helm of a regulatory agency you're dealing with state and federal dollars, there's a fine line in there between getting in trouble and not getting in trouble. So, what do you do? You put people around you that you know that's doing the right thing. Two people I hired, or three people actually, Helen Helton who was, then was an attorney also. Tom Trough(??) whom I hired as general counsel, and let's see, trying to recall here who was in charge of my Accounting Department. But, you know, all the people that you put in those positions you have to feel comfortable with, because if you don't feel comfortable with them you're gonna have problems. And I had, as every administration change, you know, I'm sure that the sitting commissioner felt that I wasn't doing things the right way and obviously that's why he made changes. But I made some changes when I took over too, and changes I thought that were for the good. Under our administration we managed to lay the foundation toward the eradication of brucellosis in the state, which is a disease that affects the cattle industry, a multi- million-dollar disease problem that we've had through the years. And we worked very closely with the United States Department of Agriculture to develop an attack program that would eradicate that disease, and that was done under my administration. McCANN: What did you do? BOSWELL: Number one, we met with the US Department of Agriculture Pathos(??) Division, that's a division that's in charge of their animal health section, and build a little bit better bridge of cooperation. There had been a real friction problem between their employees and our employees. It was always them and us, the states and fed. So I wanted to build a better working relationship, one of cooperation and tried to cooperate as much with the feds as possible to contain and eradicate the disease. And we did so, we put in place more stringent quarantine programs, increased the depopulation money, went to the legislature and appealed to the General Assembly to put more money into the buyout program where, you know, you detect the disease in an animal, you pay the farmer for that animal, X number of dollars, then you destroy the animal. And that's the only way to get rid of such diseases, is to completely eradicate the source of the disease. So we got indemnity money increased to help progress the program along, put in place a diagram of steps to take A through Z in containment and eradication of the disease and follow through with it. And finally in January the following year, after I left office, we were declared an A state which is as high as, that's about as good as you can do. McCANN: Where had we been prior to that? BOSWELL: Well, we had been as low as C, we'd been a C state and then we were a B state for many years. When I first took office we were a B state. And so we worked hard on that and we had one problem after another. We had the equine viral arthritis disease broke out in the thoroughbred industry. We had to deal with that. Of course, the thoroughbred industry alone in the state is a one billion dollar industry, not to mention the standardbreds, and the Arabians, and the other breeds. So, we had a terrible marketing problem with that disease. While it generally was not a fatal disease to the animal it was to the owner of the animal financially, because once the virus gets in the bloodstream of the animal then it's there for life. It generally doesn't reactivate, but we contained and eliminated that disease- McCANN: If it doesn't reactivate why is it dangerous? Because it's transmitted on through the genes- BOSWELL: Yes. McCANN: problem? BOSWELL: Um-hm, um-hm. Yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease as well as an airborne virus and visually, looking at the animal that would have the disease you'd think it would be no more than a common cold, nose running, you know, eyes watering, but it was more than that. As a matter of fact, I had to go to Europe at the request of the Grace Foundation which is a foundation to improve the thoroughbred industry in our state to make an appeal to the British tripartite not to embargo Kentucky thoroughbreds. And we were successful in staving off an embargo by the countries of England, Ireland, and France with our disease containment plan and our quarantine plan. We sold it to the British and "Save the thoroughbred industry in the commonwealth." McCANN: What did you do to follow up on your [audio malfunction; unintelligible]- BOSWELL: I put in place an aggressive ongoing farm-city program. I would go to the Chambers of Commerce to the, we had speaking engagements set up from end of the state to the other primarily with Chambers of Commerce. We participated in the Louisville Farm-City Program very actively. I would speak at Farm-City functions from end of the state to the other expressing the importance of agriculture to the communities. Used a very famous quote by William Jennings Bryan from his "Cross of Gold" speech and when he appealed to the Democrat National Convention back in the 1890s. He said, "Burn down your cities and save our farms and the cities will spring up again as if by magic but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in this country." And that was an appealing quote to me, and I liked it and I felt very comfortable in making that quote, stating that quote to the crowds that I would speak to. And it worked, I think when we left office, we left office with a lot of our city leaders understanding that agriculture is more than some farmer out in the field with his plow in the ground, you know. It's more than going to the store and buying the groceries. And I really felt good about leaving-as a matter of fact, I recall one of my final functions, I testified before the congressional, the House Agricultural Committee, Kika de la Garza's committee in Washington on several occasions, you know, with that message of trying to make Congress and trying to make our people in the urban centers more cognizant of the importance of agriculture to their daily lives and fairly critical of President Reagan's, some of his actions relevant to farm policy in the 1985 Farm Bill and what-have-you. And so, in one of my final speeches that I gave to the Louisville Farm-City function, I think there were about seven hundred people there. Jesse Helms was the guest speaker, and I got up to speak before Jesse Helms did. And when Jesse grabbed a hold of my coattail and said, "Son, you've been pretty critical of us, why don't you slow down a little bit?" I knew then that my message was getting out, you know, to people like Jessie Helms that, you know, I've been very vocal for farmers, very vocal for agribusiness and I guess my Irish temperament had prevailed in some cases. So I think we left our mark. McCANN: It could also be said that other people left their mark on you with some of the criticism that was leveled toward you and your administration? Comment on those? BOSWELL: Yeah. I feel pretty good about that. If there were, the criticisms that I received were primarily ones from, I think, you're giving away yardsticks to the state fair and I'll take that kind of criticism any day of the week over criticisms that could've existed like, "Boswell cost the thoroughbred industry 100 billion dollars or one billion dollars," or "Farm market tools destroyed by Boswell administration," or "Boswell not doing his job, Boswell administration not doing their job on enforcing pesticide regulations." Being critical of the way I ran my public relations I think was a last resort effort to scrutinizing an administration that they couldn't find a great deal wrong with other than, "He had his name of yardsticks and brochures and fans and pencils and what- have-you." And so I never did back up on that. I told a news reporter one day, I said, you know, he was firing shots at me about it and I said, "Well, the farmers and the people of Kentucky when they elected me to do this job they gave me the vote of confidence, their confidence, to do the job and to promote Kentucky agriculture as best I can and this my means of doing it and that's the way it is." McCANN: Well, how did promoting your name to do that? BOSWELL: Well, because there had been, I felt that it was important that there be a name and office associated with-if you're gonna promote agriculture there needs to be a main chief spokesperson for agriculture. And I felt that when people would see Boswell's name they would think of agriculture, they think Kentucky agriculture, they think Kentucky soil touches all of us. You know, when they think of agriculture they think of David Boswell. So, it was a-and, you know, I guess you could, I just wouldn't sit here and look at you and say that there wasn't another motive behind it, because it's obvious that everybody that's ever held that office, before they had their name on yardsticks, they had their name of pencils, they had their names, and, you know, Commissioner Alben Barkley on match covers, Commissioner Tom Harris on yardsticks. And I found it interesting that the only reason that an issue was made out of it with me was because I aspired to higher office. So, the news media looked at it predominantly, as a pretty dominant vehicle for David Boswell to project himself into another office, and it had that connotation. And it was a vehicle, but at the same time I know the old saying is, if everybody jumps off the bridge you shouldn't jump off the bridge too, but it was a traditional practice that had taken place in the Department of Agriculture probably going back to "Doc" Beauchamp. But nobody ever wrote about that, see. You know, David Armstrong's name was all over every piece of printed material that went out of his office, so was Alice McDonald's, but it seemed obvious that only David Boswell made the front page of the paper for having his name of yardsticks at the state fair. I never really could figure out why, I mean it's, I think it was a perception that certain members of the media wanted to stir the minds of the people out there in the state. It didn't cost me my last election, I can promise you that (laughs). McCANN: No. [End of Tape #1, Side #2] [Begin of Tape #2, Side #1] McCANN: Yeah, let's see. Certainly Commissioner [audio malfunction; unintelligible]-your office promoted legislation and obviously [audio malfunction; unintelligible]- BOSWELL: Oh me! We promoted several pieces of legislation. Of course, our budget document was the primary piece of legislation that we always gave a great deal of attention to. We put in place a computerized marketing system whereas a farmer, be it a grain farmer or a pork producer or whatever, could pick up a touch-tone telephone and key, dial in a telephone number that would key into a computer that would give that farmer a market for whatever it is that they produce, be it cattle or whatever, you see. And that was included in our budget document. We, of course, there were expenditures to eradicate brucellosis. That was all included into the budget document. Specialized legislation, we supported agricultural bonding legislation to try to enhance the existing legislation that we had passed or had pushed through as a member of the legislature. I wish to have time to think about that because I know there were some very important key pieces of legislation that we got passed as commissioner that enhanced the farm situation in our state. Most of it was done though through the budget process, and as I said that's all I can think of at this point in time. McCANN: What kind of a relationship would you have with Governor Collins? BOSWELL: I had a decent relationship with her. You know, our system here in Kentucky is an unusual system in that in a lot of other states, most other states, the secretary of agriculture of that particular state is a cabinet level position appointed by the governor, or it's a board of agriculture that's appointed by the governor that appoints the commissioner of agriculture. So, in most of the states there is a hands-on vehicle from the governor as to agricultural affairs in that particular state. In Kentucky it's unfortunate that it has, it's somewhat of a _____(??) scenario. Here is someone who is elected by the people to be the chief agricultural officer for the state of Kentucky and, on one hand, and then on the other hand, here is the governor who has made commitments in his or her campaign dealing with agriculture and the promotion of agriculture. And as a result of that, if that governor does not have a good working relationship with whoever the people elected as their commissioner of agriculture, or a shaky relationship, there is a potential there for friction. Some times, you know, the governor, I know she felt like that I encroached into areas that she wanted to be involved in and I always welcomed the governor's involvement in everything that went out of our way. But I think, on the other hand, I think there were times that she felt like that I was encroaching or she didn't have a hands-on means of controlling certain agricultural functions in the state. McCANN: Can you give me some examples of both of those? BOSWELL: Not specifically, other than maybe a few-now, toward the end of her administration, we did share in some marketing ventures with the Taiwanese people, Taiwanese trade missions. But, you know, like at the National Governors' Conference, rather than extending an invitation to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee to testify on behalf of Kentucky agriculture, she would go to an ag-economist over at the university and get them to do it, you see. And, you know, in my judgment our constitution put the framework in for that position and defined the duties and responsibilities, and that was the will of the people then and it's still the will of the people today. And I felt that there should have been a little bit better framework to have a better working relationship. I don't know if it was as much her as it was-and the secretary of the Commerce Cabinet at that time was Carol Knicely and I met him on two occasions and we always, you know, he always sort of dominated the conversation and said, "This is what we want to do, we want to have a liaison situation between the administration and your office." But it was never followed through with, you see. So I don't know whether it was oversight or just what-I mean I don't think it was a personality thing because I certainly had no personality problems, political problems in any way, shape, or form with Governor Collins nor did I think I did with Secretary Knicely. I don't know whether it was just not knowing how to follow through with the relationship, the marriage between two constitutional offices, but I had the desire to be more visible in her administration with the role of Kentucky agriculture. And she may have had the desire to wanted to have done that but just didn't know how to do it, I don't know. McCANN: But you did have a fairly relationship with it, I take it, since you were instrumental in helping her [audio malfunction; unintelligible] special session. BOSWELL: Right. That's correct. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Oh, we- McCANN: What did you do there? BOSWELL: Well, sort of interesting. I acted as somewhat the bridge between the executive and the legislative branch, arranged the setting and the framework for she and the speaker and members of her cabinet and speaker staff, education committee members, to get together in an outside of capitol building setting. There's something intimidating about that building when it comes to relationships between the first and the third floor, you know, with the legislative independence people, legislative leaders don't like going to the, having to go to the first floor and vice versa. The governor is the governor, you know, and that's the numero uno CEO in the state, and the governor doesn't feel comfortable in going to the third floor for meetings. So, and neither, the legislature didn't feel comfortable going to the governor's mansion to meet. So, I just provided and orchestrated with the speaker and the administration a coming together of the minds to agree to some kind of framework to move Kentucky forward with respect to the education reform and that was done in 1985, I think. Legislative leaders from both the House and Senate were included in that meeting, initial meeting, and I think they had several meetings-and I, from the standpoint of having input into the meetings, I did not, I mean I understood the importance of what the meetings, you know, happened to be, and that's a better education for our children and, but as far as being the great compromiser or the spokesperson I was not that, (unintelligible) just helped to get the two bodies together. McCANN: How were you chosen to do that? By virtue of your office and the fact that you'd served in the legislature or what? BOSWELL: I just took it upon myself to do it because I understood the importance and the significance. I've always been one to try to compromise. I'm a great admirer of Henry Clay and his ability to compromise, without compromising your principles. So, I saw a job out there that needed to be done. I observed sort of a standoffish willingness from the governor's perspective to do it and likewise from the speaker's perspective to do it, and just took it upon myself to pull the two entities together and to start. I, you know, I guess, another old saying that I've always enjoyed is "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way," you know. And I felt that that was the time to lead, you know, to move things together. McCANN: When they were trying to get [audio malfunction; unintelligible] off the ground, they argued for months over the shape of the table. Did you have similar types of problems in selecting a site and organizing it, orchestrating it? BOSWELL: Nothing other than recognizing the, sometimes the intimidating appearance of, and the understanding of the balance of power between the executive and the legislative branch. You know, here we were at that time, 1985, sort of in the middle or approaching the upward side of achieving total legislative independence from the governor. So, you know, here is a very skeptical group of legislative leaders not by virtue other than being a part of the growth of the child and maturing. I would say the maturing of the individual, and so I understood that. I understood that it would probably, the issue would be better served if it were, the meetings were initiated outside of the opposing structures of the capitol building or the governor's mansion. And not trying to circumvent the press and the media either, but I mean the public definitely has a right to know, but the public has the right to know about something and not about speculation. You can't report factually the achievements of anything until you first meet, and so I felt that it be more conducive to the bottom line of moving toward education reform to get together in more of a passive type setting. McCANN: Where and when was that meeting held? BOSWELL: It was in 1985 and it was, let's see-now wait, let me back up. The meeting initially may have been, the educational reform package itself was done in, the initial Martha Layne's- McCANN: Right. BOSWELL: in 1985. McCANN: Eighty-four, wasn't it? She proposed taxes and those were defeated and then they later came back and said, later came back and said, why, I've got another package and we like to have a special session? Is that- BOSWELL: Yeah, that's what it was. Yeah. It must've been in the spring, early spring of 1985 or late winter. And the first meeting-well, I think they had two meetings out there, the best I recall, and they were held on Roy Peach's farm what is now called, The Oaks is the name of his farm on Highway US 127 and I had a duplex apartment there in what was a, used to be a stable, a horse barn, and he converted the stable into a duplex and I had about, let's see, fourteen or fifteen hundred square in there, big place, beautiful apartment. And interesting as it may be, I brought back, I forget, several big trays of barbecue from this place right here- McCANN: To the Moonlite? BOSWELL: Uh-huh. And made up barbecue sandwiches for them and got things started and said, "Adios, I'll see you'll when the, when I see white smoke come out of the chimney" (McCann laughs). McCANN: Who all was at that meeting? BOSWELL: Governor Collins was there, Don Blandford, let's see, I'm trying to recall. I believe "Jitter" Allen may have been there, who was then Governor's Collins' legislative liaison. I'm reasonably sure that Buel Guy was probably a part of it, was executive assistant to the speaker. Bill Wright I believe was there as floor leader. Greg Stumbo was there as floor leader in the House. I can't recall whether Eck, I think Eck, yeah, Eck Rose was there, the president pro tem in the Senate. And I'm sure the governor had other members of her cabinet there, but I can't recall exactly who they were. McCANN: Did you play any further role in that process? BOSWELL: No. No, I didn't feel that it was a, as commissioner of agriculture I didn't feel that I should intervene in the proceedings of the executive level, of the executive branch and the legislative branch. I was the groundskeeper, you know. McCANN: Were any representatives of the Department of Education there? BOSWELL: I really don't recall. I really don't recall whether there was or not. I didn't have control of the list of those that should be there. I suggested that, you know, should be legislative leadership and the administration, but I don't recall if the Department of Education was represented there. McCANN: What other role have you played in education reform? Did you have a role in 1989 or- BOSWELL: Just one of an observatory capacity. I spent a year on the governor's staff from 19--, November of 1988 to November of 1989. And as a result of serving as legislative liaison to the governor and to the secretary of the governor's cabinet, you know, I had [audio malfunction; unintelligible] degree of input from the standpoint of legislative engineering, let's call it, but not from the standpoint of having any direct input in how education reform should technically take place, you know, any suggestions about any particulars on classroom sizes or what-have-you, curriculum or anything like that, or finance. But try to maintain a peaceful relationship between the governor's appointees, the governor, and the legislative appointees to the task force. McCANN: What particular role did you play? BOSWELL: Primarily advising the secretary of the governor's cabinet, Smitty Taylor, on legislative procedure and committee process, and making suggestions on, you know, like who the most powerful, I guess for the lack of a better term, members of the legislature might be. Those that could have influence on others in getting support for a legislative package, you know. So, it was a minimal role that I played, but one of using some of the experience, I guess, that I'd gathered through the years. McCANN: How were you selected to go on the governor's staff? BOSWELL: I suppose Secretary Taylor-well, the governor approached me on several occasions asking that I come on board. And I guess it was in November of, actually it was September or October of 1988 I decided that it would be a good experience for me and it could have, it could be a self rewarding experience from the standpoint of being able to see things better transpire between the administration and the legislature. And it worked, you know, to a degree it worked, but I spent most of my time putting out brushfires, you know. McCANN: What kinds of brushfires? BOSWELL: Oh, just little things, you know. A lot of them were personality in nature, ego in nature, you know, turf protection, (unintelligible)-more from the executive branch than from the legislative branch. McCANN: Had Governor Wilkinson expressed interest in you doing it during the legislative session? You mentioned doing it in September, had it been offered earlier? BOSWELL: I worked as, I did work through the lottery session and helped with the lottery. But, yeah, he wanted me to stay on during this last session and I didn't, I just didn't feel comfortable in doing it. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, because I would see things out here that it would be easy to fix with a little bit of personal touch from the governor and he wasn't willing to-and I don't say what I'm saying based on negative because I left there on a very positive note with him and his staff, but my nature is one that, you know, you see things that can be fixed, I want to fix them, but I wanted to have the autonomy to fix them. And I was not given the autonomy to fix them so I felt like my time was being wasted there, and so that's why I left. McCANN: What kind of a relationship did you have with Governor Wilkinson? BOSWELL: I had a good one, had a good one. I had a fairly accessible degree of contact with him. You know, I could call him at the mansion at nights and if he was there he would respond to my calls and, because he knew generally that I wouldn't call him unless there was a problem. I had a good relationship with him, you know. McCANN: What kind of rela--[audio malfunction; unintelligible] right? BOSWELL: Well, no, he wasn't my boss. I worked more directly with Smitty Taylor than I did Tom Dorman, but we had a decent relationship. I think he sometimes felt intimidated by my presence. McCANN: Why is that? BOSWELL: Well, because of, you know, I'd been three terms in the House of Representatives, knew all the players practically on a first name basis in the legislature, been real close to the speaker, and I just felt on, that sometimes he was a little bit, maybe it was my own perception but I felt he was a little bit protective of his turf. But I got along with him fine. I mean we speak, we have a good relationship as far as that goes. McCANN: I take it that you left in part to come back and run for the Senate, is that correct? BOSWELL: That's correct, uh-huh. McCANN: What particularly motivated you to do that? Why all the sudden? BOSWELL: Well, I felt that given the experience and the background that I have, the experience that I've accumulated through the years, legislative experience, experience in local government, executive level experiences, a constitutional officer myself and working on the governor's staff, could pay dividends for our district here and this is a fairly good size district. We got Daviess, Hancock, and part of Ohio counties in this district, and I felt that, you know, it's a pretty critical time for us here in our region. We've had a loss of jobs, but we're now pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and moving forward trying to bring new industry in, trying to take care of the existent industry that we have. And it's important that whoever holds the Senate seat, in my eyes, can be an effective person for our district the day that they're sworn in. And given the contacts that I have in the House and Senate and with the executive branch, I think that I can be an effective state senator the day I'm sworn in for our people. I enjoy it. I like the legislative process, obviously, and could, you could call it an obsession, you know, I just, I feel like that's my chapter in life, you know, to serve in the legislature and to serve the people. It sounds a little bit maybe like hogwash, but that's the way I feel about it. McCANN: We're just now, as of today it's June the 28th we're just now a month removed from the primary. Could you tell me a little bit about the primary and- BOSWELL: Well, it was- McCANN: your strategy? BOSWELL: it was a tough one. I've never had one of these things given to me yet. We've had to work day and night for every office that we've sought. I had four very formidable opponents. Had a two-term former mayor of Owensboro, a former juvenile judge. The former mayor's name is Jack Fisher, juvenile judge in Richard Ford, who is a cousin of Wendell Ford's. Had a former county commissioner by the name of Ronny Wells, a very popular fellow from the east end of Daviess County, and a former member of the Daviess County Board of Education by the name of Walter Mathis, he's an executive of South Central Bell. And it was a tough race. I thought that it would be less intense than some of the others that I'd been involved in but it turned out to be the most intense of all of them because in the past I've always been the only show in town. When I ran for the legislature the first time I was the only candidate in Daviess County. When I ran for commissioner of agriculture I was the only candidate from western, this part of western Kentucky. When I ran for lieutenant governor I was the only candidate in western Kentucky. But this time there were five of us local running for the same office. And we ended up carrying the primary ahead of my nearest opponent by over 2,000, about 2,400 votes ahead of Jack Fisher. McCANN: Out of how many votes cast? BOSWELL: I would say there were probably twelve or thirteen thousand votes cast and I got 5,300 of them. So, I'm pleased and proud of the way we ran and it was a family effort, a team effort, and [audio malfunction; unintelligible] hurdle to clear in November with the Republican candidate here. McCANN: What role did your family play in it? BOSWELL: They worked, went door to door with me just like, I mean we worked door to door. Traveled around the district with me to different functions and worked just like I did. McCANN: How did you organize this campaign? BOSWELL: It was a hard one to organize because all five of us had been public people, active in the community and all five of us shared the same, a lot of the same friends in the community that would be campaign chairmanship quality or whatever, however you would want to put that. And so I recognized that and did not go to mutual friends and buttonhole them and try to high pressure them into visible roles in my campaign. So instead, I asked my brother to chair my campaign and my stepfather was co-chairman of the campaign. McCANN: What are their names? BOSWELL: Paul O'Bryan is my stepfather and my brother is Larry Boswell. He is the executive with National Southwire Aluminum Company. Paul is a retired colonel from the United States Army. And I had a campaign chairman in Hancock County, a young man by the name of Monny(??) Quinn who stepped forward courageously so. And then I had- McCANN: Why do you say that? BOSWELL: Well, Hancock County is, one of my opponents has very strong connections in Hancock County. Ronny Wells, one of my former opponents, had some very strong family ties there. His mother and father were from there. He had a Lewisport mailing address, which is in Hancock County, but actually he lived in Daviess County but he lived on that mail route up there. So, he had strong ties there and my campaign cairman's mother is the circuit court clerk up there. So she has to run for office too, you see. And so it was a right courageous thing for him to do then. [Voice in background on intercom: Margaret? Jim?] No, they're not up here. [Voice in background: Thanks.] McCANN: Who else was involved? BOSWELL: Well I was endorsed by all those same groups that have been with me all along: KEA, the AFL-CIO, building trades. I was always taught to stick with those that brought me here, as the old saying goes. And fortunately, they felt the same way about me that I did them. And coming from a big family helps. Friends and family, that's what it's all about. McCANN: What were the issues? BOSWELL: Jobs, economic development, healthcare, healthcare cost containment, transportation, you know. Those are all factors that make us a marketable area for economic development to provide jobs for our community and the people that want to live here. And my campaign was a positive campaign based on my experience in the legislature, helping to improve the farm economy for our area, which we did through our marketing techniques, my support of economic development projects here in, such as the reopening of the steel mill, and we put, let's see, $3.5 million into opening the Green River Steel back up here, state money, my support of the Owensboro bridge project, and, you know, just different things like that. McCANN: We've covered a lot of ground today, is there anything that we haven't covered that you- BOSWELL: I tell you what- McCANN: added to or- BOSWELL: we've spent a good two hours here so I've enjoyed it. I think that pretty much sums it up. If you want to come back after November the 6th we might have another chapter to put in the book. I hope we do. McCANN: Okay. Thank you. BOSWELL: Um-hm. Thank you. [End of interview] Boswell (House 1978-1984, 7th district; Senate 1990- , 8th district; Democrat) discusses his early family and work life in Daviess County (Ky.). He discusses his political campaign for his House seat and service on various committees. He discusses at length his run for Agriculture Commissioner and his commitment to farmers and farming in Kentucky. He concludes with his perceptions of various governors. Kentucky Legislature