Woody Freeman

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Elwood A. "Woody" Freeman​

(Arkansas businessman and 1984 gubernatorial nominee)


Born December 28, 1946 ​
Political Party Republican
Spouse Lynda Brown Freeman​

Parents:
Elwood A. and Mildred Hout Freeman​

Elwood A. Freeman, known as Woody Freeman (born December 28, 1946),[1] is a businessman in Jonesboro, Arkansas, who was the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1984. He lost to the incumbent, Governor Bill Clinton, the Democrat who eight years later was elected President of the United States. Freeman was the third of five Republicans whom Clinton dispatched in his successful races for governor.​

Freeman is the son of Elwood A. Freeman (born 1918) and Mildred Hout Freeman (born 1919), who divorced. In 1962, the senior Freeman married the former Elaine E. Stanfield (born 1920).[2] Woody Freeman is married to the former Lynda Brown (born 1947).[3]

Political activities

​ Prior to the gubernatorial bid, Freeman served for eight years on the nonpartisan Jonesboro School Board and was the president of the board from 1978 to 1981. Freeman was appointed by Republican Governor Frank D. White to the Arkansas Board of Higher Education in 1981 and served until he resigned to run for governor.[4] He won the Republican nomination over Erwin Davis, a lawyer from Fayetteville.[5] A political writer described both Freeman and Davis as "articulate and attractive young men who vigorously sought the nomination."[6] Freeman received 13,030 votes (68.4 percent) to Davis' 6,010 (31.6 percent) in a low-turnout primary.[7]​ ​ As a Republican nominee, Freeman was a credible candidate when he challenged Clinton who was seeking his third and last two-year term in the office.[8][6]

Clinton claimed that if Freeman were elected the Arkansas legislature would scuttle certain education reforms approved in the fall of 1983.[4]

In his autobiography, My Life, Clinton mentions Freeman once as "an appealing young businessman from Jonesboro."[9] In an appearance in Little Rock on November 3, 1984, President Ronald W. Reagan told a rally, "Please send Woody Freeman to the statehouse."[10] Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also campaigned for Freeman but seemed to have little of substance to offer the Arkansas candidate.[11] Clinton prevailed with 554,561 votes to Freeman's 331,987.[7] President Reagan easily won Arkansas over Walter Mondale, and Democratic U.S. Senator David Hampton Pryor defeated the determined bid of Republican U.S. Representative Edwin Ruthvin Bethune, Jr., of Arkansas 2nd congressional district.[12] When Clinton won again in 1986, by defeating former Governors Orval Faubus in the Democratic primary and Frank White in the general election, and in 1990, over the Republican Sheffield Nelson, he was elected to four-year terms, the latter of which he served for only two years.​ ​ After his own campaign, Freeman continued to contribute to Republican candidates, including former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio of New York, the unsuccessful candidate against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton for the United States Senate in the 2000 general election. In 2002, he donated to the failed effort by Republican U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson to win reelection in Arkansas.[13][14]​ In 1999, Freeman contributed to Hutchinson's brother, U.S. Representative Asa Hutchinson, thereafter the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2006.[15]Asa Hutchinson since rebounded politically and has been twice been elected as governor, in 2014 and 2018.

Business career

Just after his race for governor, Freeman co-founded Continental Computer Corporation in Jonesboro, the developer of software which allows funeral homes to upload obituaries to the National Obituary Archive with a single click of the mouse.[16] The archive is the largest repository of obituaries and death records. The company also provides easy access to birth certificates. Freeman's partners are Phil H. Hout and Jesse Stafford, both then of Jonesboro, and Peter Seale of Houston, Texas.[16] Freeman once claimed that he started the company with a $3 checking account.[17] The company was named "Arkansas Business of the Year" in 1992. By that time, company sales had increased tenfold.[17]

Freeman is an advocate for expanding business opportunities in Jonesboro. In 2006, he spoke in favor of allowing restaurants to serve liquor though Craighead County was then a prohibition stronghold. Freeman called the rejuvenated downtown Jonesboro "very impressive.[18]

References

  1. Internet site: Net Detective and People Search
  2. Craighead County, Arkansas, Marriages, 1960-1964. gscca.net. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  3. Internet site: People Search and Background Check
  4. 4.0 4.1 Tom Mirga, "Governorships Are Won by 'Education' Candidates; 4 State Chiefs Re-Elected, November 14, 1984. Edweek.org. Retrieved on December 27, 2009.
  5. Campaign Notes: Clinton of Arkansas Trying Again. The New York Times (April 2, 1984). Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Diane D. Blair. Arkansas Politics and Government: Do the People Rule?. Google Books. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Our Campaigns: AR Governor. Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  8. Blair, Diane D. (1988). Arkansas politics & government: do the people rule?. University of Nebraska Press, 97. ISBN 0-8032-6073-3. Retrieved on January 3, 2010. 
  9. Clinton, Bill. My Life. Google Books. Retrieved on December 26, 2009. 
  10. Remarks at a Reagan-Bush rally in Little Rock, Arkansas. Reagan.utexas.edu. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  11. Robert E. Levin and J. Shawn Landres, Bill Clinton: The Inside Story. Google Books. Retrieved on December 26, 2009. 
  12. State of Arkansas, Secretary of State, 1984 general election returns
  13. Woody Freeman, 72404. Watchdog.net. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  14. Jonesboro, Arkansas Political Contributions by Individuals. city-data.com. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  15. Jonesboro, Arkansas Political Contributions by Individuals. City-data.com. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Parent of Arrangeonline.com Adds Entrepreneurs to Board. Arrangeonline.com (June 12, 2002). Retrieved on December 26, 2009; no longer on-line.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Software savvy. highbeam.com. Retrieved on December 26, 2009.
  18. Carol Griffee, "New Club Permit Approved,"Jonesboro Sun, December 21, 2006.

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