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1990-09-26 Interview with Wilson Palmer, September 26, 1990 Leg001:1990OH219 Leg 016 2:01:15 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Kentucky -- Officials and employees -- Selection and appointment. Political campaigns -- Kentucky. Sales tax -- Law and legislation -- Kentucky. Kentucky. Governor (1959-1963 : Combs) Kentucky. Governor (1963-1967 : Breathitt) Kentucky. Governor (1967-1971 : Nunn) Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991. Prichard, E. F. (Edward Fretwell). Communists. Rural electrification -- United States. Cooperative societies--United States. Waterfield, Harry Lee, 1911- Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991 Breathitt, Edward T., 1924- Kentucky. General Assembly. Legislative Research Commission. Wetherby, Lawrence W. (Lawrence Winchester), 1908- Nunn, Louie B., 1924- Ford, Wendell H., 1924- Carroll, Julian M. (Julian Morton), 1931- Huddleston, Walter D. (Walter Darlington), 1926- Kidwell, Alvin egg law rural electric cooperatives campaigning interim committees Legislative Research Commission (LRC) sales tax legislation Key Legislation: 1968 sales tax increase, Kentucky egg law Term/District: Senate (1962-1972), 30th district Counties in District: Harrison County (Ky.) -- Pendleton County (Ky.) -- Grant County (Ky.) -- Robertson County (Ky.) -- Bracken County (Ky.) -- Nicholas County (Ky.) -- Bourbon County (Ky.) -- Woodford County (Ky.) -- Fayette County (Ky.) Wilson Palmer; interviewee Jeffrey Suchanek; interviewer 1990OH219_LEG016_Palmer 1:|14(3)|39(7)|69(2)|96(11)|125(4)|148(3)|165(6)|196(1)|222(2)|264(1)|281(4)|299(4)|311(6)|327(2)|345(4)|368(4)|398(3)|419(9)|449(9)|461(7)|481(3)|508(2)|530(9)|542(9)|566(7)|577(4)|606(3)|625(11)|644(12)|679(5)|700(11)|722(3)|738(4)|762(2)|782(6)|797(9)|820(1)|829(4)|850(1)|867(13)|880(12)|903(2)|924(9)|950(6)|978(2)|1001(3)|1014(4)|1038(3)|1067(3)|1088(10)|1116(2)|1140(11)|1158(7)|1173(7)|1191(8)|1205(12)|1220(8)|1238(13)|1258(4)|1275(4)|1304(2)|1324(3)|1341(17)|1363(12)|1382(7)|1395(1)|1430(2)|1453(2)|1477(3)|1495(9)|1538(2)|1561(6)|1574(2)|1593(5)|1614(3)|1630(9)|1649(12)|1666(9)|1682(2)|1708(6)|1746(2)|1765(2)|1804(9)|1817(2)|1838(2)|1849(13)|1869(10)|1886(5)|1906(5)|1942(5)|1957(2)|1983(2)|2000(3)|2021(2)|2041(3)|2066(2)|2083(2)|2105(6)|2126(2)|2146(4)|2171(4)|2188(5)|2214(5)|2235(1)|2261(5)|2281(10)|2310(7)|2337(10)|2351(8)|2374(2)|2384(11)|2398(6)|2423(3)|2432(2)|2454(2)|2484(7)|2514(4)|2523(2)|2539(2)|2572(4)|2596(3) audiotrans Legit interview SUCHANEK: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Senator Wilson Palmer who represented the 30th District. The interview was done for the University of Kentucky Libraries Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project. The interview was conducted by Jeffrey Suchanek on September 26, 1990 at Mr. Palmer's office in Cynthiana, Kentucky at 1 p.m. [Pause in taping]. Okay, today I'm talking with Mr. Wilson Palmer. Mr. Palmer, to begin I like to get to know a little bit more about you. Could you tell me your full name and when and where you were born? PALMER: My full name is Everett Wilson Palmer. I was born and raised in Harrison County where I lived. SUCHANEK: What year were you born, sir? PALMER: Nineteen seventeen. SUCHANEK: Nineteen seventeen. And the date? PALMER: May 9, 1917. SUCHANEK: May 9th. Okay. Can you tell me a little bit about your parents, their names and their occupations? PALMER: My father was a farmer. His name was Hervey Palmer, my mother was Clara Palmer, and they were both from Harrison County. SUCHANEK: Uh-huh. Has the Palmer family been in Kentucky a long time? PALMER: Been in Harrison-this family is, my family has been in Harrison County for over, I'd say, 150 years or something- SUCHANEK: A hundred-and-fifty years, is that right? PALMER: great grandparents. SUCHANEK: So your line goes way back in Kentucky then? PALMER: My grandfather was born in 1855. SUCHANEK: What was his name? PALMER: Vinson Palmer. V-I-N-S-O-N. And my grand--, my mother was a Florence and her father was born in 1856. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: (Unintelligible) part of my grandfather. And the home place where my father lived joins my farm, and it-my father lived there and my grandfather lived there and my great grandfather lived there. SUCHANEK: Well, I see. PALMER: Not all were Palmers, but they all, my grandparents. SUCHANEK: Is that farm still in your family? PALMER: Yeah, it's the adjoining, it's the adjoining farm to my farm. I own it. SUCHANEK: You own it? PALMER: But I never lived there. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: I married before my father lived there. SUCHANEK: Now, do you remember what your grandparents did for a living? Were they farmers, too. PALMER: They were farmers, both of them. SUCHANEK: Where did you live when you were growing up? Did you live on that farm? PALMER: I lived on the farm. SUCHANEK: Where at in Harrison County? PALMER: Kind of northeast out at 392 Republican Pike. SUCHANEK: Okay, uh-huh. Do you have any brothers or sisters? PALMER: I had two brothers and two sisters. SUCHANEK: Are they older or younger? PALMER: One brother was older and one brother was younger, the two sisters were younger. My two brothers are deceased. And my two sisters are still living. SUCHANEK: Okay. Where did you go to school? PALMER: I went to Buena Vista High School, that was a county school here, one of six in Harrison County before the mergers, and you got one county school now, one in Harrison County, that's where I went to high school. I went to U.K. for two years. SUCHANEK: What year was that? PALMER: Thirty-six, seven and eight. SUCHANEK: Okay. Was your high school a large high school? PALMER: No, it was, oh, I'd say, I don't know how many students were in it, but fifteen or twenty graduated every year. SUCHANEK: I see, um-hm. Do any teachers that you had stand out in your mind as having made an impression on you? PALMER: Any what? SUCHANEK: Any teachers, can you remember any teachers that- PALMER: Oh, sure. SUCHANEK: that might've made an impression on you that stand out in your mind? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: And can you remember their names? PALMER: Mr. Case was at Buena Vista. He later became superintendent of schools in Harrison County. SUCHANEK: What subject did he teach? PALMER: He taught history. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: And he may have taught some Latin, I can't remember exactly. SUCHANEK: Do you think he had anything to do with the grounding of maybe your political philosophy over or- PALMER: Yeah, he was, he was interested in politics. He taught civics in high school, I think. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: I don't know. SUCHANEK: Was anyone in your family, going way back to your grandparents, interested in politics at all, or were you the first one in your family? PALMER: Oh, I think I was the first one that ever got into it very big. SUCHANEK: What did your family think when you decided to go into politics? PALMER: They thought I was, I'd have trouble winning. When I, the first race I run I ran against the incumbent who had been in there for twenty-four years in the State Senate. He had defeated everybody there who ran against him. But I was fortunate. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Now, as a youngster growing up, were you involved any extra curricular activities like sports or the speech club or anything like that? PALMER: I think I was on the debating team for a little while. And I was, we had a basketball team and a baseball team. I played on both of those. SUCHANEK: Did the debate experience help you once you got on the floor of the senate? PALMER: No, I don't think so, it's too far back. SUCHANEK: (Laughs), okay. In what year did you graduate then? PALMER: High school? SUCHANEK: Yeah. PALMER: Thirty-five.. SUCHANEK: Okay. And when you went to, and when you went to U.K., did you have any particular major in mind or any course of study that you were interested in? PALMER: I had a bunch of electives, but I think I was most interested in business. SUCHANEK: Now, that was during the heart of the Depression? PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: How did you manage to get money to go to U.K.? PALMER: My parents and my grandparents helped me. My mother was an only child. We were just like her, my brothers and sisters were just like children to my grandparents on my mother's side. SUCHANEK: Now, did any of your brothers and sisters go to college? PALMER: Yeah, my older brother went to U.K., the Army got my younger brother, and both sisters went to college. They didn't graduate, but both went for a couple of years or so. SUCHANEK: Now, do you remember how you met your wife? PALMER: No, she was, I don't really know how I met her because she did live only three or four miles away from where we lived. SUCHANEK: Oh, I see. You knew her as you grew up? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: I see, uh-huh. PALMER: She went to a different high school than I did, but I knew them. SUCHANEK: Was she from a large family? PALMER: Uh-huh. She had about four brothers and two sisters. No, one sister. SUCHANEK: When did you get married then? PALMER: Nineteen thirty-nine. SUCHANEK: And I know you have at least four daughters, is that right? PALMER: Five. SUCHANEK: You have five daughters, okay. PALMER: All teaching school. SUCHANEK: They're all school teachers? PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: Do they all live here in Harrison County? PALMER: Three of them do, the three youngest ones. And one of them lives in Jamestown, New York. SUCHANEK: Oh, is that right? PALMER: You know where that is, probably. SUCHANEK: Yes. Yes, uh-huh. PALMER: Well, we were up there a couple of months ago for her daughter's wedding. SUCHANEK: Is that right? PALMER: The other lives in Meade County, Brandenburg, down below. SUCHANEK: Sure, uh-huh. PALMER: She teaches business. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: Her husband is assistant superintendent. And the one in New York teaches in a junior college or a business college or something. And the three others are teachers in these elementary- SUCHANEK: I see, in Harrison County? PALMER: Uh-huh. One of them teaches the gifted, one of them tests, does testing, the other teaches the third grade. SUCHANEK: Well, that's interesting that they're all involved in education. PALMER: Um-hm. Three of them went to Eastern Kentucky University. Two of them went to U.K. All of them got the right one or the right two or whatever it is. SUCHANEK: Now, when did you decide to get into, involved in politics? PALMER: Well, I was kind of, I don't know when I did. I was working on Senator Barkley's race, well his last one probably, and I always just, for several years I was interested in local politics but I never did, later I made up my mind to run for the Senate. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. In local politics, is that where you first met Sterling Owen? PALMER: I probably kind of grew up with him. SUCHANEK: I see. Did you go to the same high school with him? PALMER: No, they lived out here in Cynthiana. He's about my age, I imagine. Three of those boys. And all three went to U.K. at the same time, I think. SUCHANEK: Now, when you decided to run for state senator, did someone approach you and ask you to run, or was that your own idea? PALMER: Well, I think when I really got interested in it, I was a member of the Harrison Rural Electrical Board, that's an electric co-op that furnishes electricity for this whole area. And there was a piece of legislation pending in the legislature, and two or three of us went over from the, representing the board in behalf of the bill. I got to watching them and it kind of appealed to me and started thinking about it and decided one day I might run for that seat, which I did. SUCHANEK: What did you think your qualifications or experience were that made you qualified to run for the Kentucky Senate? What did you feel that you had going for you? PALMER: Well, I'd been involved with the Farm Bureau, been involved with Southern States, had been on the board of the Harrison Rural Electric for several years. And all those organizations you've got to keep up with what's going on politically and (unintelligible) Washington or where and just kind of got acquainted that way. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: And I knew in the districts I was representing, would be representing, that I had to do a lot of contacting, which I did. SUCHANEK: Contacting whom? PALMER: Well, everybody that I could, but especially the county officials and the political leaders and- SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Now, I'm not at all familiar with Harrison County politics, but was there, was Harrison County at that time, in the late '50s, early `60s, was, I know that was a Democratic area, it was mainly a Democratic area is that right? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Okay. And as I said, I'm not familiar with this, but would you say that it was more of a pro-Earle Clements area or more of a pro- "Happy" Chandler, you know, the different factions in the Democratic Party? PALMER: I think it kind of split. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. PALMER: Combs, I mean I might've been Clements on one side and "Happy" on the other. I think "Happy" was right prior to when I ran. Let's see, he won in `51, `61, `50? SUCHANEK: He was in from `56 to `59. PALMER: Yeah, that's right. Combs won it. SUCHANEK: Right. Yeah, Combs won in `59. PALMER: Well, I'd say that Combs was stronger politically when I ran than Chandler was in this district. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now- PALMER: But Chandler has always been strong in this area. SUCHANEK: I think Sterling Owen mentioned to me that he had worked on a Chandler campaign at one time or something- PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: that's why I asked that. I didn't know whether, you know, whether this was a, more Chandler or more Wetherby or Clements or Combs area. Were you known, then, to the local political leaders here in Cynthiana in Harrison County? PALMER: Yes. See, in `59 Combs ran for governor. He ran in `55 and was defeated, he ran again in `59 and was elected. But I was his campaign chairman both times- SUCHANEK: Oh, I didn't know that. Okay. PALMER: in Harrison County. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: And I got acquainted with all the other county chairman in the district, senatorial district in those two races. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: And so when I got ready to run, I started contacting some of Combs' campaign chairman and co-chairman and women chairman and whatever it might be- SUCHANEK: Sure, sure. PALMER: good nucleus. SUCHANEK: Right. So the Combs' administration, then, did help you during your campaign? PALMER: I'd say they were favorable to me. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, the man you had defeated, as you said he was a veteran of the Kentucky Senate for twenty-four years, I think he was called the "Dean" of the Kentucky Senate. That's a pretty big piece to bite off and chew, isn't it- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: to take on the "Dean" of the Kentucky Senate? PALMER: For a little upstart like me. SUCHANEK: (Laughs), it sure was, yeah. Now, just for my own information, once you were in the Senate, did you ever contemplate or you, where you ever approached about running for a different office, say, congressman, or U.S. senator or maybe even governor? PALMER: Oh, they mentioned they liked me for succeeding John Watts when John Watts died, Congressman Watts. SUCHANEK: Oh, is that right? PALMER: Bill Curlin was the (unintelligible), wasn't he? Do you think that's right? SUCHANEK: I think so. And they approached you as, if you would be interested in running? PALMER: Well, I was mentioned. I don't know whether I was approached or not. SUCHANEK: Uh-huh. Would you've been interested? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Why not? PALMER: I don't like to live in Washington, D.C. SUCHANEK: Okay. You're- PALMER: I've been there a few times. SUCHANEK: you're a Kentucky boy and you wanted to stay one? PALMER: I'm a green country boy. SUCHANEK: Okay. There was H. Stanley Blake, was he more of a Chandler supporter, then, in the Senate and that's why, perhaps, Combs was happy to throw his support behind you? PALMER: I don't know. Combs, I think, for various reasons he supported me because I'd been his campaign chairman a couple of times. I think he did it for, return the favor. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, how did you campaign in your first race? Did you go door to door? Obviously with six counties that would be kind of difficult to do. Did you have TV spots or radio spots? PALMER: No. Radio. I, my wife and my kids and my brother and a whole lot of my family went out and helped me. I'd take, go to town somewhere and I'd say whatever town, take my wife and kids and maybe some other kids going door to door. SUCHANEK: So you did do door-to-door salesmanship sort of. The people knew who you were when you introduced yourself? PALMER: Yeah. See, most of them did after I advertised in the local papers. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: Put a picture in there a few times and I got acquainted. I remember one of the times, one of my daughters was, handed out some cards and campaigning for me, and this fellow was up on a ladder doing something and he said, "You bring that card up here and I'll vote for your daddy." And she went right up that ladder with that card. SUCHANEK: (Laughs), now, that's loyalty. PALMER: She wasn't afraid of the ladder. But my kids helped me, and there's a lot of things. I used to farm. I was farming when I ran for the State Senate had a Grade A dairy and a whole bunch of turkeys and the kids helped me. They can milk that bunch of cows if I wasn't at home. If I was gone away they could take care of everything, girls at that. SUCHANEK: What did your wife think of you being a state senator? PALMER: She was for it. She got out and campaigned; took some people and go to Robertson County and to Bracken County. SUCHANEK: Did you have a campaign manager, so to speak? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. And I guess this is more of a modern thing, you didn't have anything like pollsters or anything like that? PALMER: No, no. SUCHANEK: Uh-huh. When did you finally realize that you had a chance to win? PALMER: Well, I think I felt like I was going to win all the time. SUCHANEK: Now, I know the Cynthiana Democrat practically, if not in fact, endorsed you. PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: How did the newspapers treat you over the years here in Cynthiana, and in other papers throughout the state? PALMER: Good. The Falmouth Outlook endorsement one time. SUCHANEK: The what? PALMER: The Falmouth paper. SUCHANEK: Falmouth paper. Uh-huh, uh-huh. PALMER: Maybe more than once, I don't, can't remember. SUCHANEK: Now, as I recall, you didn't have much trouble defeating Mr. Blake in the primary. PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: And in the general election you had no opposition. As you prepared for your first legislative session, did you think your primary responsibility when voting on issues would be towards your constituents or to the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a whole? In other words, if a bill came up that would benefit Cynthiana and Harrison County or the 30th District, but perhaps would be detrimental to the rest of the state, what was your position on that? PALMER: That's a tough one. I never had any situation like that that I can remember, but I tried to represent my constituency. But I guess if I'd had to make a decision on something like you're talking about, I had to see what it was and how much it affected my district and how much it affected the state as a whole. But- SUCHANEK: Did you have any issues came up that, perhaps, later on in your tenure in the Senate, say, on air or water pollution that might've affected some industry or business in your district unfavorably, but was good for the environment in Kentucky as a whole, anything of that nature? PALMER: Don't recall anything like that. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, when you got to the Senate, Bert Combs is already governor entering his second session. Back in 1962, did they have a pre-legislative sessions before the regular session? PALMER: Yeah, they had them on, at Cumberland Falls. SUCHANEK: Cumberland Falls. And is this where the Democratic leadership was elected for the upcoming session? PALMER: That's where they were chosen. I don't know whether they was elected or not. Was a forgone conclusion who was going to, who they were going to be. SUCHANEK: Now, back in those days, the governor had a lot more power than he does today- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: and it was basically the governor who picked the leadership of the Senate and the House. Is that how you remember it? PALMER: Well, I knew he had a great influence, and he wanted leadership, he wanted favorable leadership to get his program in because he wanted enough votes in the Senate to get his program in, too. But I remember that the, they were favorable to the governor, `62. I can't recall exactly who all they were, but I think Jim Ware was the majority leader. SUCHANEK: Right, right. Now, being a freshman senator, I doubt that you would've been invited to the meeting of Governor Combs' inner circle in Cumberland Falls to decide on the leadership in the Senate. PALMER: I can't remember. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, Combs did pick Alvin Kidwell as president pro tem- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: in `62. You're right, James C. Ware was majority floor leader and Jiggs Buckman was caucus chairman. PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Now, I'm curious as to how that worked. Were these men's names placed in nomination for the respective positions by someone and then the rest of the Democratic senators voted, or more or less just rubberstamped the governor's choices? PALMER: I think they voted- SUCHANEK: But as you said, it was a forgone conclusion? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: I can't remember exactly, but I think the Democratic caucus elected them. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, Wilson Wyatt was still lieutenant governor- PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: after having lost his U.S. Senate race to Thruston Morton. How active was Wyatt during the second half of Combs' administration? PALMER: Well, he was active, if that's the word you want. SUCHANEK: Was he a presence in the Senate, or was he kind of just licking his wounds after the Senate defeat? PALMER: Oh, he was presiding. SUCHANEK: But did he, what I mean is, did he wield a lot of power in the Senate? PALMER: Well, I think he and Combs were real close, and I think he influenced the governor and also had influence with the Senate. Of course, there was the Democratic control, I don't know what it was, thirty to eight or something like that. What was- SUCHANEK: I'd have to look, but it was something overwhelming like that, yes. PALMER: Yeah. I don't think he was, showed much, I don't think the wounds showed very much. SUCHANEK: Did you ever work closely with him on anything? PALMER: Oh probably so, but I can't remember what it was. SUCHANEK: What was he like as a man and as a leader? PALMER: He was a fine fellow, a good leader and very intelligent, very friendly. He always knew you, had a good knowledge of somebody, where you came from. He was well-informed, I thought, a good man. SUCHANEK: I understand that he and his wife used to give a lot of social functions over at the lieutenant governor's mansion. PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Do you remember going to any of those? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Now, in your first session, you were made Chairman of the Committee on Administrative Agencies- PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: and vice chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and State Fair. PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: That's pretty good for a freshman senator, isn't it? PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: How did you manage that? PALMER: Oh, I don't know. I just, told me do the best I could. SUCHANEK: Were you known to the leadership of the Senate? Did Al--, did you know Alvin Kidwell before you went in? PALMER: Yes. Yes, and I knew Jim Ware, too. SUCHANEK: How did you know them? PALMER: Well, I just met them, met Mr. Kidwell over in Grant County, I think. And Jim Ware, I met him down at the park, Cumberland Falls. SUCHANEK: They must have sounded you out on, you know, what your position would be on- PALMER: I think the campaign (unintelligible) appreciation for me being for him. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Now, freshmen weren't always given chairmanships, were they? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. So, apparently, your chairmanship of the Combs' campaign here in Harrison County must have persuaded him that you would be a safe bet to put in charge of a committee- PALMER: Administrative agent. Must have. SUCHANEK: Right. Now in addition, you were also put on the powerful Appropriations Committee as well as Rural Roads and Highways and Public Utilities. Now, you mentioned that you were on the board of the Harrison Rural Electric Cooperative, so being on Public Utilities would've been a real nice committee for you to get on. PALMER: It would be something I'd be informed real well. SUCHANEK: Were you able to ask for what committee that you wanted to be on? Did they ask you, or were you just kind of assigned as a freshman? PALMER: I was assigned. I probably asked for Agriculture because I was a country boy. SUCHANEK: Now, do you recall Combs having any trouble with the committee chairmen, especially on Appropriations, for any of his bills like the budget bill? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Now, what role did you play as a committee chairman? What were your duties and responsibilities? PALMER: Call the committee meetings and, of course, they were assigned by the leadership to certain committees, whenever I got enough bills I'd call a meeting and we'd take some action. SUCHANEK: How effective were the committees back in the early '60s? PALMER: They were right effective, most usually, most of the bills that they voted favorably upon or got on the board was voted upon. SUCHANEK: Did you have time to hold hearings and call in testimony, or wasn't there time enough to do that in the sixty-day session? PALMER: Oh, we did, we had people come to the committee meetings in their behalf. The way I think, I can't remember from one session to another- SUCHANEK: Sure. PALMER: when we had on, when we had hearings. SUCHANEK: Now, would there be debates in, amongst committee members- PALMER: Oh, yeah. SUCHANEK: on various bills? PALMER: In the committee room? SUCHANEK: Yes. PALMER: Yeah, there were pros and cons. SUCHANEK: Do you remember any, I mean, what were those meetings like, those debates like? Did they get wild and wooly, or was it fairly, was the spirit of cooperation evident, or what were those like? PALMER: They were quiet most usually, and people expressing their opinion but in a nice manner. I don't remember any hot rowdiness. SUCHANEK: And, I suppose, part of your job as committee chairman would be to moderate between- PALMER: Control- SUCHANEK: Yeah. PALMER: take control of the meeting. SUCHANEK: Right, uh-huh. And perhaps cut off debate after a certain time- PALMER: Yeah. Most usually, a lot of times the meetings were right prior to the convening of the House or the Senate, and that kind of allocates the time, generally. Get as much done as you could before the session began. SUCHANEK: What can you tell me about Bert Combs? What kind of governor was he? PALMER: I think he was a real good governor, one of the best we had lately. I think he tried to do something for Kentuckians, progressive and, of course he had to have money to do it. And he put on the 3 percent sales tax veteran's bonus, it was an opportunity to get some revenue to do other things for, but I think for education he did a great job and for the highway system did a wonderful job. SUCHANEK: Now, he was the one that first began the Mountain Parkway, is that right? PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Of course, he was from eastern Kentucky and that would be a priority for him. Did Combs like to get involved in all aspects of the legislative session or was he mainly concerned with his own bills, and after that would be kind of a hands- off type governor? PALMER: I don't remember him having much, making much effort except on his own legislation, the ones that he was personally concerned about. SUCHANEK: Now, was he the kind of governor who would call you in to talk to you about specific legislation, or did he prefer to work through the Democratic leadership, or just how did he operate, do you recall? PALMER: Well, I don't remember getting called in, maybe one time. SUCHANEK: Do you remember what that time was? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. So you would say he preferred to work through the leadership then? PALMER: Yeah, I think so. SUCHANEK: Do you have any favorite Bert Combs stories you like to share with us? PALMER: I can't think of any. I might between now and tomorrow sometime. SUCHANEK: Okay. Do you recall what your impressions of the legislature was during your first session? Was it a little disappointing to you or was it more exciting than you ever could have imagined it? PALMER: It wasn't disappointing because I'd been there a time or two and I knew about how they proceeded, but I wasn't, I just, I think I enjoyed it at the first session. And I enjoyed it from then on, but the thing I really enjoyed wasn't necessarily, maybe, the legislation that was acted upon, it was all the fine people all over the state I met. I still see, still know a lot of them. Of course, it's changed a lot since I was there; not very many in there now that was there when I was there, Jim Bruce maybe. SUCHANEK: Yeah, I have to go through my list to see. PALMER: I don't know. SUCHANEK: Was Moloney there, Mike Moloney? PALMER: Yeah, he's in the Senate. He took, I don't know whose place he took, Gip Downing or- SUCHANEK: Could have been. PALMER: Bobby Flynn maybe. SUCHANEK: Were you surprised at all by the political infighting going on between Combs supporters and Chandler's supporters or Waterfield supporters? PALMER: No, I wasn't surprised because I knew that there'd been a controversial, I knew Earle Clements and Chandler didn't get along. Earle Clements was a, kind of picked Bert Combs, helped pick him anyway. But I wasn't, I knew that there was a faction, two factions when I went in. SUCHANEK: Now, later on in your career you were kind of identified with that faction, with the- PALMER: Combs? SUCHANEK: the Combs and Breathitt faction. And I guess being campaign chairman fueled that. Did you feel as though you were a part of that faction? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Okay, um-hm. Now, the differences between the Clements faction and the Combs faction, or the, I mean Clements faction and the Chandler faction, was that based on philosophical differences or was it mainly a matter of "ins" versus "outs" or based on personality, do you think? PALMER: I think they both wanted to be in. Both couldn't be, so that was this (unintelligible). SUCHANEK: So it was kind of like the "ins" versus the "outs?" PALMER: Yeah. Just like Waterfield representing the Chandler faction, it's what got him beat. Probably helped get him beat. SUCHANEK: Now in the various infighting between the factions in the Senate, did you get involved in any of that as a freshman senator? PALMER: Well I can't remember, but I guess if there was some legislation there that was Combs or Chandler, I probably would've been favorable to the Combs faction. But I don't remember anything exactly like that. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: Could've been. I've just forgotten. SUCHANEK: Now, by the time you got to the senate in `62, and you say the 3 percent sales tax had already been passed so you didn't have to try to dodge that bullet- PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: was there anyone in the Senate who sort of showed you the ropes, so to speak, or showed you how to draft legislation or anything like that? PALMER: Had Legislative Research. All you had to do was go tell them what you wanted, they'll draft it, checked it out for constitution- SUCHANEK: Oh, I see. How would you let them know what you wanted them, did you go and tell them, or would you- PALMER: Go and tell somebody. SUCHANEK: Okay. And they would put it in the proper language and whatever? PALMER: Yeah, and check it out for legality. That's to make sure it's all constitutional and a few other things, or try to make sure. SUCHANEK: That sounds like a lot of work that the LRC was doing? PALMER: Yes, they did. It'd be tough without them. SUCHANEK: Was there anyone that you recall in your first session that impressed you as a legislator? PALMER: I'd have to look at the picture. I'm sure there was. SUCHANEK: For example, did James C. Ware impress you as a floor leader, or even on the Republican side, was there any Republican like Wendell Van Hoose, did he impress you as a legislator or anyone like that? PALMER: I'm sure someone did, but I just can't think very quick who might have been. SUCHANEK: You know, someone that you would say, "boy, I'd like to be just like him?" Well, let me turn over this tape. [End of Tape #1, Side #1] [Begin Tape #1, Side #2] SUCHANEK: Okay. One of Combs' key, I guess, unofficial advisors was Ed Prichard. PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: Did you know Ed Prichard well? PALMER: Yes, I did. SUCHANEK: What can you tell me about Ed? PALMER: Ed was an awfully smart man. He would, talking about politics a while ago, I didn't mention all my family, but I had a great-uncle that was sheriff here, Uncle Bob Florence. And I told Ed that one time, and he knew him, and every once in a while, every year or two, he'd ask about Uncle Bob Florence. He was the brother of my grandfather Florence, and he lived to be 103. Walked downtown when he was 100- SUCHANEK: Is that right? PALMER: from up here on three or four streets up. He knew everybody in every county, you know. He didn't know everybody, he knew the political leaders and a bunch of other people. He was one of the most intelligent people I ever met. SUCHANEK: I've heard that from other people. PALMER: I think he was a, I don't know what kind of scholar you'd call him. SUCHANEK: Well, he'd gone to Harvard- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: and he'd been a law clerk to Felix Frankfurter at the Supreme Court. PALMER: He wrote opinions, a lot of them, didn't he? SUCHANEK: Right. PALMER: Somebody told me that. SUCHANEK: Exactly. Then, of course, this would have been way before your time but, you know, he had that ballot box- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: stuffing episode and it kind of ruined his career. Do you think he would have made a good governor? PALMER: Yeah, I think he would. He'd have been progressive. That's what I think we need in government is progressive. I don't think we need to be liberal, but, nor conservative, but progressive. SUCHANEK: I understand Prichard used to write many of Combs' speeches- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: and do you think that he also advised Combs on various legislation and that type of thing? PALMER: I'm sure he did. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. What kind of leaders were Alvin Kidwell and James C. Ware and Jiggs Buckman? What kind of leadership group did they make? PALMER: Well, I think they were, did their job, and I think they were, of course, naturally they were in the Combs' administration and probably very well helped the governor get his program over. I don't remember any time they weren't, but I think they did a job, what they were supposed to do. SUCHANEK: Do you recall who picked you to be Chairman of the Administrative Agency's Committee and Vice Chairman of Agriculture and State Fair? PALMER: I'd say the leadership. SUCHANEK: Um-hm, um-hm. But you don't recall, say, Alvin Kidwell- PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: you know, telling you, you had been selected or if you would serve in that capacity? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, I believe you voted for all the administration's bills during the 1962 session. I believe that there was a, I do believe though, that there was a rebel faction in the Senate though, and one of the leaders of that faction was Rex Logan- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: and I think he was a member of the Chandler or Waterfield faction. PALMER: Yeah, Cap Gardner. SUCHANEK: And Cap Gardner, right. I know he opposed, both of those gentlemen opposed, many of the administration's bills. PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: Do you remember anything about that type of factionalism in the Senate, you know, during the Combs administration? PALMER: Yeah, I remember them. They'd get up, Rex Logan would talk for an hour at the time about something that wasn't going to happen, took a lot of time on the floor. SUCHANEK: You said he would talk about something that wasn't going to happen. PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: Like what? PALMER: Oh, I don't know. I don't remember what he talked about even. SUCHANEK: Okay. Was he an eloquent speaker? PALMER: Yeah, he was good. Yeah, he was a good speaker. SUCHANEK: Now, in that `62 session, you were co-sponsor of the so-called H. Nick Johnson Bill. Do you recall what that was? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: That denied civil rights to persons judged to be communists. You not only co-sponsored this bill, you voted for it and it passed 31 to nothing. Do you recall what prompted this bill? Could this have been a direct result of the larger international crisis that was taking place at that time, the Cuban missile crisis, do you think? PALMER: Probably so. I don't remember much about it. I remember Nick. SUCHANEK: He was a conservative individual, wasn't he? PALMER: Yeah, he was a Republican from Harlan, Kentucky. SUCHANEK: Right. PALMER: I don't think he's living, is he? SUCHANEK: I don't believe he is. PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: Now, also in 1962, you sponsored Senate Bill 152 which sought to revise the egg marketing license provisions. Your revision stated that, and I quote, "No person shall buy, sell, trade, traffic, or process eggs in Kentucky having as their origin or destination any other state without a license issued pursuant to the egg marketing law," end quote. Now, this bill received a second reading but not a third reading. Do you recall the origins of that bill or what prompted you to try to have that thing revised? PALMER: No, not unless it was a department bill- SUCHANEK: From the- PALMER: Ag. Department. SUCHANEK: The Ag. Department? PALMER: Unless it was one of their pieces of legislation. SUCHANEK: Oh, so, this could have been an administration bill then? PALMER: Yeah, could be. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: But I don't remember. SUCHANEK: All right. I, as I said, I know this is a long time ago and to try to remember, you know, individual pieces of legislation is hard. Now also in 1962, you co- sponsored an administration bill that reorganized the agencies administration of state government. This bill, for one thing, created the Health and Welfare Agency, and you say that Bert Combs was a progressive governor. And this bill passed 22 to 10. Now this had been mentioned, I believe, by Combs when he spoke to the joint session at the beginning of the `62 session. I imagine your co-sponsoring of this bill might have improved your stock a little bit in the administration's eyes? PALMER: That's reorganization of state government? SUCHANEK: Right, uh-huh. PALMER: Yeah, it finally passed too, didn't it? SUCHANEK: Yes, 22 to 10. PALMER: In the House, too? SUCHANEK: Um-hm. PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Another, the other administration bill you voted for that year was Senate Bill 88 which authorized the transfer of excess state fire and tornado funds to the capitol construction fund. If you could, I'd like you to talk a little bit on the powers available to a governor at that time. As we stated before, the governor had many powers back then in the early 1960s and probably through the mid '70s that they don't have today because of the increase in independence of the legislature. PALMER: That was undoubtedly an administration bill. Does it say I co-sponsored it or that I sponsored it? SUCHANEK: Well, I think this was just an administration bill, but you voted for it. PALMER: I voted for it? SUCHANEK: Uh-huh. And, you know, since we're talking about this Senate Bill 88 and the capitol construction fund, how did governors use the construction fund for political purposes? Was that kind of a patronage tool that they would use, the capital construction fund? PALMER: Well, I don't know, not any more than anything else, I wouldn't think. SUCHANEK: What other powers were available to a governor to use or persuade legislators to vote for their bills? PALMER: Well, of course, I've been keeping up with this administration now about the session, what they did to get the education bill passed, but they accused him of promising a lot of roads and bridges and things like that. But I don't remember anything like that in the, during the Combs administration. I don't remember him trying to, going out and buying you for a bridge or a road or anything like that. SUCHANEK: Um-hm, um-hm At least you weren't approached- PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: about that, right? PALMER: No, no. SUCHANEK: Now, Senate Bill 117 was another administration bill that you voted for and it established industrial loan company organization requirements. Now, didn't this bill, do you remember this bill creating any controversy, because apparently some of the top Combs administration people had interests, or were involved in industrial loan company type deals? Do you recall any of that? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, Senate Bill 237 that year that you voted for was another administration bill and it required a referendum on calling a convention for constitutional revision. Legislators and governors to no end, I guess, had been calling for constitutional revision for decades, and yet they can't get the voters to go along with that idea. Why do you think it's so hard to convince the people of Kentucky that constitutional revision is necessary? PALMER: Well- SUCHANEK: Do you think it's necessary? PALMER: Yes, I do. I think it should be done, but most people I hear is opposing it because they think that once it's opened up they'll go too far with so many things and- but I think the constitution is, needs revising. I don't know whether a new convention, I don't think they can do it by legislation, but I'm sure the, a lot of the parts of the constitution are obsolete, and the new ones (unintelligible). I think Prichard was on that committee. SUCHANEK: Oh, is that right? PALMER: Revision, but that was writing the new one, wasn't it, completely? SUCHANEK: Well, there were two thoughts about how to go about it. One would be to go ahead and rewrite the constitution and submit that to the voters to vote "yea" or "nay" on it. And the second idea was to just have a referendum for the people to vote for a convention, and so there were two different ideas on how to go about it, and I believe Prichard was the one who advocated going ahead and writing one and then submitting that for a vote. I think you're right. PALMER: I think so too. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, another administration bill in 1962 was Senate Bill 326 which created the Kentucky Atomic Energy Authority, which you voted for. Now, being involved in the Harrison Rural Electric Cooperative, did you see much potential for atomic energy in Kentucky, and was anyone concerned at this time, in the early '60s, over possible contamination problems or nuclear waste disposal, or hadn't we gotten to that point yet? PALMER: We hadn't gotten to that point. We are now. SUCHANEK: Right. Did you see atomic energy as being a potential source of unlimited energy? PALMER: Yes, I do. I think we're going to end up having it some of these days, of course a lot of (coughs), a lot of states got it now. I think TVA has got some atomic power, haven't they? SUCHANEK: Um-hm. I believe there's a plant by Paducah, isn't it? By Paducah or Owensboro or- PALMER: Oh, I see. SUCHANEK: Hawesville or something, isn't that there? PALMER: No, that's not nuclear, that's coal fired. SUCHANEK: Oh, coal fired? Okay. PALMER: Big River is the name of it. SUCHANEK: Oh, okay. Then, of course, the administration bill was House Bill 40 which was the biannual appropriation act which you voted for and it passed 33 to 4. And I think you had mentioned that you don't recall much haggling over Bert Combs' second budget bill, do you? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, in 1963 Bert Combs called a special session of the legislature to deal with the collapse of the United Mineworkers supported hospitals in eastern Kentucky. Apparently a depressed coal market had led to many layoffs, and that had put the hospitals in financial straits. You voted for House Bill 1 which provided state support for these hospitals and you also voted for Senate Bill Number 1 which created the Commission on Correction and Community Service. Do you recall anything special about that special session? PALMER: No, I don't. I just know it happened just like you said, but I don't remember any of the details. SUCHANEK: Oh, okay. Now, in 1964 we had another Democrat elected to the governor's office, Ned Breathitt, who had defeated "Happy" Chandler in the primary and, I think, Louie Nunn in the general election. PALMER: Just barely. SUCHANEK: But curiously enough, although Chandler had been defeated, his running mate, so to speak, Harry Lee Waterfield, had been elected lieutenant governor. PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: This brought about a strange situation in Kentucky politics of two members of opposing factions occupying the top seats of the government in the state. Waterfield, as lieutenant governor, also presided over the Senate. What role did Waterfield play in the selection of the Democratic leadership in that pre-legislative session? PALMER: I think he had, I think he chose the leadership. SUCHANEK: Waterfield chose the leadership? PALMER: I can't, who were they? Cap Gardner was majority leader. SUCHANEK: Right, uh-huh. PALMER: Who's the other two? SUCHANEK: Well, let's see. PALMER: I believe Cap was the only one he chose, majority leader. SUCHANEK: Yeah, he was majority leader. President pro tem was James Ware- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: and as we said, the lieutenant governor was Waterfield. So you think Waterfield was the one who chose the leadership? PALMER: He chose Cap Gardner as the majority leader. SUCHANEK: Was that sort of an accommodation or a concession by Breathitt? PALMER: I'd say it was a concession by Breathitt. SUCHANEK: Okay, all right. Now, Waterfield proceeded to try to undermine the Breathitt administration in the Senate during the `64 session. Do you recall some of the problems or infighting that occurred during that session? Did Waterfield make it a difficult session for you and the other senators? PALMER: I don't think so. I don't remember anything too controversial. I know Breathitt got everything he, at least it seems to me that I, as I remember it, he got everything that he wanted in his- SUCHANEK: All his programs passed, yeah. So you wouldn't have any knowledge of Waterfield perhaps trying to recruit some Republicans to oppose some of Breathitt's bills or anything of that nature? PALMER: He might have, may have done that, but I don't have any firsthand information like that. SUCHANEK: Okay. What can you tell me about Harry Lee Waterfield as a man and as a leader? PALMER: I think he's a fine man. He wasn't, I was on his, if there was two sides I was on the other side but I had a lot of respect for him because he had a lot of built-in, lot of knowledge, darn good fellow and he had a fine family. I just think it's a shame things didn't work out better for him so he might have become governor some time. I liked the man. SUCHANEK: Well, it's interesting that you would say that because, really, the fight between Breathitt and Waterfield over control of the Kentucky legislature eventually spilled over into your 1965 reelection campaign- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: when a dyed-in-the-wool Waterfield supporter, Frank Shropshire, ran against you in the primary. PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: In fact I believe your race was one of ten or twelve in the state that Waterfield actually got actively involved in. PALMER: I know it. SUCHANEK: His, Waterfield's people sent a mass mailing to all the voters in the 30th District urging them to, more or less, throw you out of office because you were a Breathitt administration man. How did you feel about that? PALMER: Oh it didn't worry me too much. That fellow running against me was a good fellow. Frank Shropshire? SUCHANEK: Right. Uh-huh. PALMER: And I think he was talked into something he didn't really want to be in, and I thought, maybe, he made a good campaign, harder than he did, but it wasn't, just like I thought, I got so many votes in Bourbon, as he did in Harrison. He's from Bourbon and the rest of them I carried. But his wife was a relation of mine. SUCHANEK: Oh, was that right? PALMER: She was a Florence and my mother was a Florence, lives up on Russell Cave Pike. But I wasn't, I never held nothing against him. SUCHANEK: Okay. Do you remember having any disagreements with Waterfield in the Senate that would have led him to support an opponent of yours, or was it kind of like they say, you know, don't take it personally but, you know, I need your seat (laughs). PALMER: No, I don't. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, did Breathitt provide you with any support in your campaign in `65? PALMER: He undoubtedly he did. He probably made some phone calls, contacted some people. SUCHANEK: Would these be campaign chairmen or county politicians? PALMER: Helped me if they could. SUCHANEK: By contacting those people? PALMER: Yeah, I don't remember who he called or anything about it. I just assume that he did. SUCHANEK: Um-hm, um-hm. Do you recall much about that campaign at all in the primary? Did you debate Frank Shropshire any or- PALMER: Yeah, a little bit. We went to Farm Bureau meetings, had the candidates and- SUCHANEK: Was that a regular thing? PALMER: have education. The KEA- SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: local would have candidates answer questions. SUCHANEK: Yeah. PALMER: Yeah, we went to several of those. SUCHANEK: Right. PALMER: I kind of enjoyed them. SUCHANEK: Did you? PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: Why? PALMER: Well, just give me a chance to see a lot of good people. SUCHANEK: Give you an opportunity to state your positions? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Were they well attended? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Now, you defeated your opponent quite handily in the election, and you got almost 60 percent of the vote. What kind of relationship did you have with Waterfield in the next session? I mean he tried to, his best to take your seat away from you. PALMER: I had a good relationship with him. I didn't ask him for anything special, but he never, he never tried to do a thing to me, so I got along real well with him. SUCHANEK: Well, getting back quickly to `64 session, before your reelection campaign you were made chairman, you were made Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and State Fair. You weren't vice chairman anymore, you were chairman. And again, I guess, it was the Democratic leadership that chose you for that- PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: position, and you were also on Public Utilities again. Do you remember anything about that committee work on Public Utilities? PALMER: The only thing I remember about it, was just, didn't have much assigned to us. SUCHANEK: I see. Most of your work was on Agriculture? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Okay. In that `64 session you sponsored Senate Bill 58 permitting highway equipment and school buses to use flashing lights. This sounds like it might have been an administration bill. PALMER: It was. SUCHANEK: Okay. You also sponsored Senate Bill 80 which allowed Department of Agriculture inspectors to reweigh tobacco. And I don't know anything about weighing tobacco. Why would that have been important to the Department of Agriculture, do you recall? PALMER: Well you have to understand how they sell tobacco first. They bring it in the warehouses and put it on baskets and it's weighted then. Then if they bring it in too early it will drift before sale time, lose weight. And I think that's what that bill did, gave them a right to reweigh it at about the time for sales; like they bring it in October and they don't start selling it till Thanksgiving, it loses weight. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: Is that about what that says? SUCHANEK: Yes, uh-huh. Now, you also co-sponsored with Shelby Kinkead Senate Bill 119 which made newspapers liable for defamatory statements and provided newspaper corrections for such statements. Do you recall what that bill was all about and what- PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: what prompted it? PALMER: No, I don't know. Shelby Kinkead was the co--, the chief sponsor on that. SUCHANEK: Right, uh-huh. Okay. So it was more his bill then? PALMER: Mine. SUCHANEK: It was your bill? PALMER: No, it was more his than mine. SUCHANEK: Oh, okay. But you don't recall what, I mean, it wouldn't be anything that would've happened here in the Cynthiana Democrat or- PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: maybe it was geared towards the Courier-Journal or something? PALMER: Lexington Herald probably. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: Shelby had something to do with it. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. And you also sponsored Senate Bill 224 which added to excused school attendance one day for the State Fair. PALMER: That didn't get anywhere. SUCHANEK: It didn't? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: Kids go over there and don't get excused. SUCHANEK: (Laughs), okay, they play hooky? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: And as I mentioned before, you voted for all the administration bills including the biannual budget bill. PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Now, after your `65 reelection Lawrence Wetherby was chosen by Ned Breathitt to be president pro tem of the Senate. What kind of president pro tem was the former governor? PALMER: He was good. He just presided a little bit when Waterfield wasn't there. Waterfield was there most of the time. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Do you think Ned put Governor Wetherby in that position to be kind of a buffer to Waterfield? PALMER: I doubt it. I think he just wanted to honor him some way. SUCHANEK: Oh, I see. Okay. Now, Jiggs Buckman was also chosen by Breathitt as majority floor leader. What can you tell me about Jiggs? PALMER: Well, I don't know much about him to tell you. He knew what he was doing. He was a good floor leader as far as floor leaders go, but- SUCHANEK: What was the job of a floor leader? PALMER: Sponsor, to call up the bills for passage, second reading or third reading or whatever they want, third reading, and then passage. But he handled the administration bills. SUCHANEK: Right. Now, in 1966 you were put back on the Appropriations Committee, and I guess this is probably because of your loyalty to the administration in the `64 session. Would you say that that was probably correct? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Now, if I'm not mistaken, this time there was a little trouble over Governor Breathitt's biannual budget bill. Do you recall anything about that, that trouble? PALMER: No, I don't. I probably knew at the time, but I don't remember. SUCHANEK: Okay. Tell me about Ned Breathitt. What kind of governor was he? PALMER: He was a good governor. He did a whole lot for education and didn't raise the taxes. He was a good progressive governor. I think he did awful(??), well, not to increase revenue. SUCHANEK: You mean another tax proposal? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Was he the type of governor like Combs who more or less just paid attention to his own administration bills and didn't get involved, too involved, in the legislature with the rest of the bills, or was he more of a hands-on type governor? PALMER: I don't think he was. I think he looked after what the administration wanted and maybe helped a little bit of us, but not much. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, I believe one of the main bills in the `66 session was Senate Bill 104 which prohibited the use of multi-coin pinball machines. PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: I believe this was an administration bill because as I recall, Ned Breathitt had mentioned it in his joint session speech in front of the legislature. It seems strange that pinball machines would become a major issue in the halls of the state legislature. Do you recall what this issue is all about in regards to the pinball machines? PALMER: No, I don't. Some personal but I don't know, I can't remember what it was. I remember a little bit about the pinball machine but that's about all. SUCHANEK: Okay. Also in the `66 session you voted for another administration bill which prohibited employer discrimination of wages on the basis of sex. Now, do you recall if this bill was in response to some type of federal legislation that had been passed? PALMER: No, I don't. It might have been. SUCHANEK: Okay. You also voted for Senate Bill 265 which created a registry of election finance which was another administration bill. Breathitt had also mentioned this in his joint session appearance. This bill required a candidate's name, a campaign treasurer, and a depository for campaign funds and that all campaign contributions had to go through the treasurer, and no contribution could be larger than a hundred dollars and all contributors were to be identified. Was this bill, do you recall, aimed at lobbyists or special interests? PALMER: Special interests, I'll bet. That hundred dollars, if it was a hundred and less you didn't have to be identified, didn't it? SUCHANEK: Oh, is that the way it worked? PALMER: I think that's the way it is now. SUCHANEK: Um-hm, okay. Now, obviously, this type of campaign of financing must have been a problem or the bill wouldn't have been raised. How active were lobbyists or special interests there in your term in the legislature in this respect? PALMER: They were there, quite a few of them. They were all registered. I got, finally I got acquainted with all of them and knew who they represented, but some of them are good to know. They helped you. SUCHANEK: In what way? PALMER: Tell you what might be kind of hidden in a bill that you hadn't really looked at good. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: This, for instance, Farm Bureau, those people, they were there for the best interest of the farmers, and I had confidence in them. They told me something bad was in some of them, I'd go and check it out right quick. They had more time to look at the bills than the legislators did. SUCHANEK: There was a legislator who told me that a lot of those bills are so lengthy that there was no way you could possibly read them all. PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: And so you relied on the lobbyists or special interests and on the newspaper to find out what was in some of these bills, is that right? PALMER: That's true. You get a bill of eighty pages in it, hard to decipher all that. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Did you get the feeling that perhaps some legislators were being paid by lobbyists? PALMER: Well, I have no evidence of that, but I wouldn't have been surprised. But I'll say one thing, I was never offered a penny. SUCHANEK: I suspect they knew better. PALMER: Well, I don't know. SUCHANEK: You were a big fellow (laughs). PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Huh? PALMER: Pretty good size. SUCHANEK: Yeah (laughs). Do you feel that they just probably felt that, I mean, they knew who you were and what you stood for, and not even to bother? PALMER: I usually let them know if I'd made up my mind then they didn't have to keep bothering me. SUCHANEK: I see. What special interests besides the Farm Bureau were particularly strong while you were in the State Senate? PALMER: The utilities. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. How about the KEA? PALMER: KEA was. SUCHANEK: Any of the oil companies? PALMER: I don't remember the oil companies being very strong. SUCHANEK: How about the Rifle Association? PALMER: I don't remember them. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: The NFO. SUCHANEK: What's that? PALMER: National Farmers Organization. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: Kind of, something similar to the Farm Bureau, but their philosophy is different. SUCHANEK: Oh, in what way? PALMER: They believed in whole (unintelligible) marketing and demanding the price and- SUCHANEK: How about the Kentucky Medical Association? PALMER: They were active. SUCHANEK: Did lobbyists ever ask you to sponsor certain legislation? PALMER: I don't recall. SUCHANEK: Like would the Farm Bureau ask you to sponsor a particular bill? PALMER: They may have. SUCHANEK: Now, another very important bill passed there in the `66 session was House Bill 2, the civil rights bill. This bill was obviously a responce to the `64 federal Civil Rights Act, and was perhaps the bill closest to Ned Breathitt's heart. I recall, I think it was in the `64 and `66 speech that he made before the joint session of the legislature and he mentioned this civil rights legislation in both speeches, so he thought highly of it. Now, there was some opposition to this bill. Do you recall anything about that opposition? PALMER: No. But I remember Jackie Robinson came over in behalf of that bill. SUCHANEK: Is that right? PALMER: I think so. You know, he's the first black ballplayer in the big leagues. SUCHANEK: Do you suppose "Happy" had anything to do in, to do with him coming over? PALMER: I don't know. He was there and I shook hands with him. SUCHANEK: Is that right? Now, there was a dissenting vote on House Bill 2- PALMER: It wasn't mine. SUCHANEK: no, it was George Brand, a Democrat from Mayfield- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: in western Kentucky. PALMER: He's down south. SUCHANEK: Do you recall him making any speeches against the bill? PALMER: No, he never made any speeches against anything, I don't think. SUCHANEK: Is that right? He didn't speak often or- PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Did the opposition to the bill surprise you? PALMER: No, just one or two votes? SUCHANEK: One vote, I think- PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: was in opposition. PALMER: I wasn't surprised, but it was almost unanimous. SUCHANEK: Right. Now, beginning in 1966 and continuing really throughout the remainder of your tenure in the Senate, we begin to see the introduction of different kinds of bills that we haven't seen before, bills regarding the environment, strip mining, water and air pollution, establishing wildlife refuges, nature parks, and legislation dealing with illegal drugs. And I suppose this is a reflection of the trends that were happening during those tumultuous 1960s. The Vietnam War was going full tilt by now, students were beginning to protest, hippies, I guess, were appearing on the scene. What was the mood of a legislator during this time of social upheaval, do you recall? PALMER: They were anti-hippy and pro-environmental, I think, to a certain extent, but maybe not as much as some environmentalists wanted. They were considerate-wild life refuges, I think that people are favorable to them. Like some things that, some animals and birds are almost becoming extinct and now are gaining back in numbers. The bald eagle- SUCHANEK: Well, being from the country you can relate to that- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: type of thing. PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: Okay. Before we're running out of tape here, let me change and go to tape number two. [End of Tape #1, Side #2] [Begin Tape #2, Side #1] SUCHANEK: Okay, this is tape number two of the Wilson Palmer interview on September 26th. We're talking about the 1960s and the times of social unrest. I remember growing up in this time period, and I remember it as being a scary time. PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: Nobody seemed to know where the country was headed. How did that, how did those feelings affect your thinking as legislators? PALMER: Well, of course, we didn't have those riots and things around here, but firstly, it made me very much opposed to them. I was-talking about the National Democrat Convention where they all? SUCHANEK: Yes. Yeah, in Chicago. PALMER: Um-hm. That was when, `66 or `6--- SUCHANEK: Sixty-eight, I believe. PALMER: `68? I don't think the legislators were very favorable to them, but I don't know what you could do about it. Looks like they kind of resolved theirselves, didn't they? SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Do you think the events that were happening nationally affected not only what happened in the state legislature here in Kentucky but in other state legislatures? Do you think there is that type of trickle-down effect? PALMER: Yes, I do. Yeah, I think they had their effect. SUCHANEK: Did you feel as though society was disintegrating at that point, or were you more optimistic than that? PALMER: I was more optimistic. SUCHANEK: Now, some of this new legislation that we're talking about ran smack into some Kentucky institutions. For example, efforts to reform strip mining must have caused a lot of outrage among the coal industry. PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: How did you deal with the coal lobby? PALMER: Well, I just voted for the strip mining law and I never had any, like that first question you asked me, if it involved my district or the state as a whole, how did I vote, I voted for the state as a whole on that issue because we didn't have any strip mines in my district but I thought we needed that strip mining law, reclamation and everything in it. SUCHANEK: Right. Do you suppose the pressure was put more on those legislators from eastern Kentucky by the coal industry? PALMER: I imagine there was. SUCHANEK: Did they ever talk to you about it? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, in 1968 a very odd situation occurred in Kentucky, a situation that had not occurred since 1943. A Republican, Louie Nunn, had been elected governor. He had to preside over a Democrat dominated legislature. Wendell Ford, a Democrat, had been elected lieutenant governor. Since there was no Democratic governor to choose the Democratic leadership in the General Assembly, who chose the leadership and how was this done? PALMER: I think Ford was in command. SUCHANEK: He was more or less the titular head at that point of the Democratic Party? PALMER: Yes, sir. SUCHANEK: Did the state chairman of the Democratic Party play any part in that, do you think? PALMER: Well, if I knew who he was I might answer that, but now I can't even think who it was at that time. SUCHANEK: Well, I'm thinking Bob Humphreys, but I'm not sure that that's right. PALMER: No, he didn't. I don't think he did. SUCHANEK: Okay. PALMER: I think Wendell and J.R. Miller were the keys. SUCHANEK: J.R. Miller? PALMER: Uh-huh. I think J.R. Miller had a great influence. Have you heard about him? SUCHANEK: No. PALMER: He's in Owensboro. SUCHANEK: Is he the one they call the "king," no, that was Bill May that I'm thinking of, the "kingmaker." PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Okay. No, who's J.R. Miller from, he's from Owensboro? PALMER: Yeah. He was a manager there for Green River Rural Electric, and he was also mayor of Owensboro after that. But he was a politician and kind of handled Ford's campaigns for a while. SUCHANEK: And you think he had a hand in the selection process? PALMER: Well, I think he had an influence. SUCHANEK: What kind of a governor was Louie Nunn? PALMER: Oh, he was okay (Suchanek laughs). Passed the nickel sales tax and somebody took it off of food and- SUCHANEK: Now, an interview that we did with Bill Sullivan, he described Nunn as heavy-handed in dealing with the legislature and getting his programs through. Do you agree with that assessment? PALMER: Yes, he did. SUCHANEK: He was heavy-handed? PALMER: Well, he got the majority of the legislature to vote for that nickel sales tax. SUCHANEK: How did he do that? PALMER: He talked them into it, I darned if I know, he didn't talk me into it so I can't hardly answer. SUCHANEK: Right, right. Did you have any dealings with Governor Nunn? PALMER: Not much. SUCHANEK: Did he prefer to work through the leadership or was his mode of operation to pick off individual Democrats that he thought he could get their vote? PALMER: I think he picked them off. SUCHANEK: Do you know if he offered rewards to those Democrats to- PALMER: No, I don't. SUCHANEK: And as you said, it was, it appears that Nunn was able to get most, if not all, of his programs passed as governor. How did the leadership, meaning Lieutenant Governor Ford, President Pro Tem Bill Sullivan, Majority Floor Leader Dick Frymire, and Caucus Chairman Tom Garrett, try to keep the Democrats in the Senate in line or from straying too far from the party line? PALMER: Had a caucus once in a while, I guess. SUCHANEK: And what would happen in that caucus? PALMER: They tried to agree to the vote, pro or con. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Would you say there was a spirit of cooperation between the Democrats and the administration, or was it more of a spirit of tolerance on the part of the Democrats? PALMER: Well, I think they cooperated pretty much except on special bills, but there was more cooperation than there was discord. SUCHANEK: What kind of floor leader was Dick Frymire? PALMER: He was good. SUCHANEK: Was he a strong individual, a strong leader? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Did Nunn's election give Wendell Van Hoose, the minority floor leader, any extra leverage in the senate? PALMER: Oh, I don't know, he might have. The governor might have given him some authority that he could use in the Senate. SUCHANEK: Now, some scholars have pointed to Nunn's election as the catalyst that the legislature needed to begin to establish its independence from the governor's office. Do you agree with that? PALMER: I think that's where they started. It picked up a little steam every session. SUCHANEK: Was there a spirit of independence in the Senate at that time, do you recall? PALMER: Somewhat. SUCHANEK: Do you think the actual idea for being, having a more independent legislature had actually started before that, before `68? PALMER: Not much. SUCHANEK: What role did Wendell Ford and Julian Carroll play in fostering independent action on the part of the Democrats? PALMER: Of course, I don't know about, you mean when Julian was the governor? SUCHANEK: No, he was Speaker of the House. PALMER: I can't answer that because I don't know what it is over there. SUCHANEK: You didn't have much contact with what went on in the House then? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. How about Wendell Ford, what role did he play in- PALMER: I think he had some influence on some specific legislation. SUCHANEK: Was there any resistance on Governor Nunn's part to an increasingly independent legislature? PALMER: Not that I know of. SUCHANEK: Okay. What role did the Legislative Research Commission play in the increase in the legislature's independence? The Senate Bill 177 established the standing committees of the General Assembly as subcommittees of the LRC during the interim period between regular sessions, you know. Who is, who is behind the interim committee idea, do you know? PALMER: No, I don't, but I know it was a right good thing because it got those bills prepared and ready to introduction and before the session began. Time consuming, took away some of that. SUCHANEK: Did the interim committee system allow you to do research on bills so that you knew more about them by the time they came up for a vote? PALMER: I'd think so. SUCHANEK: And this obviously would give the legislator more information and I guess decrease the governor's power a little bit in that rather than putting down a 200- page bill on your desk- PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: and bring it up for a vote where you had no idea what it was about and you'd have to basically take his word for it, is that right? PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: Now, did legislators take the interim committee system seriously while you were there? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Did it take a while to really get them off the ground so to speak? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Now, I believe Harry Lee Waterfield addressed the pre- legislative session or conference prior to your `68 session and he pushed for the interim committee system. Do you remember how instrumental Waterfield was in getting the idea off the ground? PALMER: Oh, I think he got people thinking about it and most people were favorable, most legislators. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. What was James Fleming's role in pushing for the interim committee system? PALMER: He was director of the LRC. I don't remember how he was, I think he was for it. SUCHANEK: And, obviously, you think an independent legislature is a good thing? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: There's been talk of annual sessions for the legislature. Do you think annual sessions are a good idea? PALMER: Well, I think it would be. I think we need an independent legislature, but I think we need a governor who's got some leadership about him that can get his program over. I think you need both. SUCHANEK: Some legislators are beginning to see the legislature as a career. What do you think of the legislature as a career? Is this good for Kentucky to have, quote unquote, "professional legislators?" PALMER: I don't know about that. I'd say pro and con on that. SUCHANEK: What would be "pro" about it? PALMER: Well, I think they'd be better informed and- SUCHANEK: What do you see against it? PALMER: they might get too much, too strongly connected with certain organizations or individuals or something like that as they stay too long. SUCHANEK: Kind of like the fellows in Washington? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Did you see the legislature as a possible career? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: How long did you envision yourself staying there? PALMER: Two terms. SUCHANEK: And you stayed? PALMER: Three. SUCHANEK: Three. There are several bills that were aimed at increasing the legislature's independence in the `68 session that you voted for. For example, Senate Bill 126 permitted legislative review of administrative elections, [telephone rings] administrative- PALMER: Regulations. SUCHANEK: regulations- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: that was introduced by Dick Frymire, so that was a Democratic leadership type of bill. Senate Bill 176 required administrative departments to file research contracts with the LRC, again, if not increasing the control of the legislature over the administrative departments, at least giving the legislature access to more information. Senate Bill 245 allocated a portion of the new state Capitol to the LRC. Now, when you start giving somebody more room and, perhaps, having to move someone out of that space to give this LRC more room, to me that indicates that you all were serious. PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: Okay. Additionally, House Bill 47 exempted the legislative branch of state government from executive budget requirements, and House Bill 494 required submission of executive budget estimates to the LRC. And again, I believe all this, all these bills exhibit an independent spirit on the part of the legislature, is that right? PALMER: Yeah, they tried to find out sooner than they used to find out about what was in the budget. SUCHANEK: Wasn't there a provision, too, that the governor-elect would have a say in the upcoming budget? PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: Do you recall that? PALMER: Yeah, I believe so. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Now as I mentioned earlier, Nunn was able to get most of his programs passed. For example, House Bill 255 established Northern Kentucky State College, and House Bill 256 provided an appropriation for it. Do you recall any resistance to Northern from people at U.K.? [Someone knocks on door; pause in taping]. We're talking about the establishment of Northern Kentucky State College, and I'd asked you if there was any resistance that you recall on the part of people at U.K.? PALMER: No. Not at all at the time. They never contacted me. SUCHANEK: Oh, is that right? PALMER: Not at all that I know about. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, of course, the most important administration bill was, of course, House Bill 399 which increased the sales tax to 5 percent and motor vehicle fees. And this bill passed 21 to 17 so it's a close vote, and I know you voted against it. PALMER: Um-hm. SUCHANEK: Was that one of the times when you knew that this would adversely affect the 30th District? Did you do that for your constituents? PALMER: No, I think I did it because I thought that 4 percent ought to be enough. SUCHANEK: I see. So you would have voted for 4 percent? PALMER: That's the way I remember it. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, on the Democrat side during the `68 session there is also some unpleasantness, and I'm talking about the Jiggs Buckman and Wendell Ford feud, I guess you would call it. And this feud developed over Ford's endorsement of Henry Ward during the `67 gubernatorial primary when Buckman thought he deserved Ford's endorsement. And during the `68 session, Buckman opposed most of the Democratic leadership's bills. Do you recall Buckman's displeasure with Wendell Ford? Do you recall anything about that? PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, going into the 1970 session the Democratic leadership in the Senate remained the same except for "Dee" Huddleston- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: became floor leader. PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: What kind of floor leader was "Dee?" PALMER: "Dee" was good. He had one session under Nunn, didn't he? SUCHANEK: Right, uh-huh. PALMER: Yeah, he was good. SUCHANEK: And then he acted as campaign chairman for Wendell Ford's run for the governorship and retained his position as majority leader under Ford. Now in `70, I believe one of the major bills was Senate Bill 4 which exempted prescription medicine from the sales tax, and this was an administration bill. Louie Nunn had mentioned it in his speech to the joint session of the legislature that the state finances were in pretty good shape and that tax relief was in order for sick, elderly, handicapped, or poor people. Do you recall that? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: And I'm sure the Democratic legislature was more than happy to oblige- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: to cut the taxes on that. PALMER: They've (unintelligible) sponsor. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Especially since those Democrats in the legislature who had voted for the 5 percent sales increase in `68, over a third of those had lost their seats, do you recall that? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Just kind of like a purge almost. PALMER: I know it. SUCHANEK: And another major bill of the `70 session, again, was an administration bill and that was House Bill 12 which included black lung as compensable under Workmen's Compensation. PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Now, you sponsored Senate Bill 67 which prohibited the use of DDT with certain exceptions. Do you recall where this bill came from? PALMER: Health Department, I think. SUCHANEK: Okay, the Health Department. All right. PALMER: I got another one, criticism for that, too. SUCHANEK: Oh, why? PALMER: Because a lot of people were using it for spraying crops, livestock to keep flies off of them. SUCHANEK: Yeah, did the Farm Bureau oppose that, do you recall? PALMER: I don't remember, but it's illegal to use now. SUCHANEK: Right. PALMER: Federal. SUCHANEK: Right. It's federal legislation, right? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Okay, and then in `71 Wendell Ford was elected governor. PALMER: Uh-huh. SUCHANEK: And what was Ford like as a governor? Was-he and Bert Combs are probably known as two of the strongest Democratic governors in the recent era, would you agree with that? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Now, seeing he had presided over the as lieutenant governor- PALMER: The Senate. SUCHANEK: right, the Senate, and I may add, an increasingly independent Senate. Did you see his attitude change at all in regards to having the legislature more independent from the governor's office once he became governor? PALMER: I think there was somewhat some change. I think he wanted the legislature to have more authority. SUCHANEK: Oh, so, you don't think that he, things went back to the way they used to be before Nunn became governor where the governor, you know, kind of ramrodded everything right through that he wanted? PALMER: No, I don't think so. SUCHANEK: Okay. Now, one of the Ford administration's bills was Senate Bill 51 which revised the rural electric and telephone cooperative provisions. Do you remember anything about that? That type of legislation? PALMER: Was that cooperative? SUCHANEK: It was, yeah, for rural electric and telephone cooperative legislation. PALMER: Did I sponsor it? SUCHANEK: No, I think it was an administration bill, but I'm certain you would have been for it. PALMER: Yeah. Was that the territorial thing? SUCHANEK: I believe it was. PALMER: Yeah, sure I was for it. That set out certain territories for electric companies, telephone companies, water companies. Couldn't infringe upon others territory, if this is the one I'm thinking about. SUCHANEK: Do you remember anything in particular about the Ford administration as far as the legislature goes or any particular legislation, because you were only there for one session- PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: of the Ford administration. PALMER: No, I don't remember anything specific. SUCHANEK: Ford, having come through the ranks of the legislature, was he, did he view the legislature perhaps more kindly than some of the other governors you'd served under as far as recognizing legislative independence? PALMER: I think he did. I think he looked upon it very kindly and had the experience of being there was good for him. SUCHANEK: He knew how things worked? PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. Okay, now, in the 1973 primary you had three opponents, Tom Ward and Jimmy Hamilton. During the campaign Governor Ford came to Cynthiana to announce some kind of highway or road- PALMER: Sixty-two- SUCHANEK: Sixty-two. PALMER: from Cynthiana to part of the way to Georgetown. SUCHANEK: Okay. Did he come here to announce that in an effort to boast or help your campaign? PALMER: I think so. SUCHANEK: Because I know during that first session you, again, had been very loyal to the administration bills and had voted for them and, obviously, you'd served with Wendell Ford and knew him- PALMER: I saw him the other day. SUCHANEK: Oh, you did? Where? PALMER: Louisville. SUCHANEK: Now, Hamilton came out in the papers during that primary and accused you of being tied to Ford's political machine, well he tied Tom Ward to another political faction, while your campaign emphasized that you were one of the two senators with the Kentucky Senate, in the Kentucky Senate that was a farmer and that he understood the needs of Harrison County's farmers, that you had voted against the 5 percent sales tax, voted to take the sales tax off of food, voted to take sales tax off farm machinery and medicine, voted to give homestead tax exemption to senior citizens. Now, as you mentioned, the Farm Bureau used to hold these forums where the candidates would be invited, and I remember reading about the Farm Bureau meeting in `73, during the `73 primary. Did you know Tom Ward prior to the campaign? PALMER: No. Barely. SUCHANEK: I think he had run for U.S. representative before, is that right? PALMER: Might have. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. And he only stayed one term, I believe, in the Senate. PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: I don't know if you would characterize this campaign as nasty, but he did get a lot of print trying to, as he said, correct statements that you had made that were incorrect about him. In fact, he accused you of being out of touch with the 30th District residents, that you were only available or made an appearance during campaigns and things of that nature. Were you accessible to your constituents? PALMER: I tried to be. SUCHANEK: Did you go around to the different counties, you know, in the interim, between sessions and- PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: and hold meetings or anything of that nature? PALMER: No, we never had any meetings. SUCHANEK: Um-hm. PALMER: I went to a lot of public gatherings and things like that. SUCHANEK: Picnics and- PALMER: Fish fries. Um-hm SUCHANEK: And you listened to your constituents at that time- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: what they had to say? Do you remember anything about that primary campaign? Were you surprised- PALMER: I remember he promised to give them toll-free telephones for, to Lexington for Bourbon, Scott, and some other county, like Woodford County has now, Jessamine. That's what hurt me. SUCHANEK: I see. PALMER: He promised those toll-free telephones. Might, Harrison might have been included, I can't remember. SUCHANEK: Were your surprised when you lost in the primary? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: Do you recall-now, he was beaten in the next primary by Ed Ford. Do you recall what his problems were when he lost? PALMER: No, I don't. SUCHANEK: Okay, okay. So then after you got out of the Senate, what did you do? PALMER: I was stayed in insurance and real estate business. SUCHANEK: Um-hm, um-hm. Have you missed being in the senate? PALMER: I did for a while, but I don't want to go back. SUCHANEK: You don't want to go back? PALMER: No, I don't have any desire to. SUCHANEK: Would you say it was a good experience for you? PALMER: Yes, it was wonderful. SUCHANEK: Comparing all the different governors that you served under, Combs, Breathitt, Nunn, and Wendell Ford, can you compare their administrative styles? How were they alike? How were they different? PALMER: I think Combs and Breathitt were similar. I'd say Nunn was a better- good. He knew how to deal to get his program over. Ford, I just think, was a good governor. I think Breathitt and Combs were kind of quiet but didn't give up. They got their program. SUCHANEK: What do you see is the future for the legislature? Do you see them becoming more independent? What did you think of the last few sessions? PALMER: I think they get more independent every year, every session. I think they're getting more like the Congress of the United States. SUCHANEK: And you think that's positive? PALMER: Yes. I think it's harder to pass anything over the governor's veto unless it's a landslide. They're the first (unintelligible). SUCHANEK: Well you remember, when we were talking about, I asked you about the, some of the powers available to a governor, the veto power was a real powerful tool that a governor had because by the time the sixty-day session was over- PALMER: Too late to- SUCHANEK: you didn't have, you weren't in session to override the veto- PALMER: That's right. SUCHANEK: and you'd have to wait till the next session. So that was a powerful, and I don't know if that, has that changed any with the interim committees, and do they, do they meet now to override vetoes or- PALMER: Yes. Yes. SUCHANEK: So that's a major step, too- PALMER: Yeah. SUCHANEK: in legislative independence. PALMER: The governor's got line veto power, too. I think the president had, the president wants it does he? SUCHANEK: What? PALMER: The line item veto? SUCHANEK: Right. Well, Mr. Palmer, we've talked a lot about of things in your legislative career. Can you think of anything you'd like to add, any stories you'd like to tell- PALMER: No. SUCHANEK: any, did you use to commute back and forth from- PALMER: Yeah, I drove with Swinford part of the time. SUCHANEK: I see. Uh-huh. When he, when he was in the House? PALMER: Yes. SUCHANEK: This is a loaded question. Was John a good man? PALMER: John was a real good legislator. He was majority leader for Ford. He was for Combs in the primary and Ford won, and then Ford made him his majority leader of the House. Must have been a good man or he wouldn't want him for that. SUCHANEK: Right. Is there anything you'de like to add that we haven't talked about? PALMER: No. Why, think of something I should add but- SUCHANEK: Well, I thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. PALMER: Well, I'm glad to talk to you. SUCHANEK: I appreciate it. PALMER: I'm glad you weren't much like a newspaper reporter. [End of Interview] 1 Palmer (Senate 1962-1972, 30th district; Democrat) discusses his early years growing up in Harrison County (Ky.), and his sponsorship of bills as a three-term Kentucky senator. Highlights include his perspectives of various gubernatorial styles and the impact of careerism on legislative politics. Concludes with discussion of his unsuccessful fourth term campaign Kentucky Legislature