Born: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Wallace Glenn Wilkinson (December 12, 1941 – July 5, 2002) was an American businessman and politician from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. From 1987 to 1991, he served as the states 57th governor. Wilkinson dropped out of college at the University of Kentucky in 1962 to attend to a book retail business he started. The business rapidly became a national success, and Wilkinson re-invested his profits in real estate, farming, transportation, banking, coal, and construction ventures, becoming extremely wealthy. In 1987, he joined a crowded field in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. After running behind two former governors and the sitting lieutenant governor for most of the race, Wilkinson began to climb in the polls after hiring then-unknown campaign consultant James Carville. Wilkinson campaigned on a promise of no new taxes and advocated a state lottery as an alternative means of raising money for the state. Wilkinson surprised most political observers by winning the primary and going on to defeat his Republican challenger in the general election.Wilkinson was able to secure passage of a constitutional amendment allowing a state lottery. He also helped craft a significant education reform bill in response to a ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court that declared the states entire public school system unconstitutional. Wilkinsons term was plagued by political scandal and an uneasy relationship with the state legislature. He advocated an amendment to the state constitution that would allow him to seek a second consecutive term as governor, but the amendment was defeated in the General Assembly. His wife Martha attempted to succeed him, but withdrew from the campaign amid weak support for her candidacy. Following his term as governor, Wilkinson encountered difficult financial times. In 2001, he was sued by a group of creditors, and during the proceedings, it was revealed that he was operating a Ponzi scheme to keep his businesses afloat. Both he and his wife Martha filed for bankruptcy later that year. In 2002, Wilkinson was hospitalized with arterial blockages. His condition was complicated by a recurrence of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He suffered a stroke on July 4, 2002, and his family withdrew his life support the following day in accordance with his previously-expressed wishes.
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