Wynne! Wynne!

I was in Wynne on business Thursday. As I made the nice drive up Arkansas Highway 1, I was reminded of one of my favorite Arkansas political stories.

It’s the story of Gov. Win Rockefeller’s stop in Wynne near the end of a long day of campaigning.

After having been in a number of east Arkansas towns during the course of the day, the governor had lost track of where he was.

He launched into his stump speech.

“It is a pleasure to be here today in . . .”

He paused awkwardly, and his aides behind him on the podium began to whisper: “Wynne. Wynne.”

The governor started the speech again.

“It is a pleasure to be here today in . . .”

Again, an awkward pause.

And yet again the aides whispered, this time with a bit more urgency: “Wynne. Wynne.”

At that point, the governor whirled around and yelled at them: “I know what my name is. I want to know where I am.”

Like so many great Arkansas political stories, this one might be apocryphal. One former Rockefeller aide has promised me it is based on a true story, though perhaps embellished a bit through the years.

It’s a bit like the recounting of the Friday afternoon when a group of state Capitol reporters rushed into the office of Gov. Frank White to ask him about some new controversy.

According to one of the reporters who was there, White responded to their shouted questions: “It looks like we have opened up a box of Pandoras.”

Paul Greenberg later would begin using the term on a regular basis in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorials.

The by-then former governor called the newspaper one day to claim that he had never said it.

But Paul decided it was too good a term not to use occasionally. So the newspaper would assume Gov. White had said it. If he hadn’t, he should have.

With Govs. Rockefeller and White no longer still with us, we’re going to assume both stories are true.

What are your favorite Arkansas political stories?

3 Responses to “Wynne! Wynne!”

  1. Ah, Wynne, the city with a smile. I really like this story as this is where I graduated high school. Good memories of playing football for the legendary Coach Don Campbell. If you are ever in town again, stop in at Colby for the Monte Cristo, which very well could be the best deep fried sandwich you will ever eat.

    I have a good Wynne political story for you as well. In 1992, Mike Huckabee was running in the Senate in the Republican primary. My parents (I was 16 at the time) went to vote for him at their normal polling place. Guess what no Republican ballots to be found. So, they were sent over to the courthouse. After several minutes of searching, they finally found them and opened up the plastic warp to pull out GOP ballots number one and two. Needless to say Wynne is quite the Democrat stronghold.

  2. Kay Brockwell says:

    I think my favorite political story has to do with Win Rockefeller as well. When he was running for Lt. Gov., he appeared in West Memphis at the APA summer conference. Several of us smokers were gathered in the hall around the ashtray, and he joined us and lit a cigarette.

    “A politician who smokes in public,” I observed.

    He took a deep draw and let the smoke curl out his nostrils.

    “I will smoke a cigarette. I will take a drink from time to time. And I will call a man a sonofabitch if he deserves it,” he observed.

    I voted for him on the strength of that platform.

  3. Gary Crawford says:

    Rex, I remember that story about Governor Rockefeller and Wynn; Mr Merriwether told it to us in a Political Science class at Hendrix. I recall the story as ” I know my name, I know what we are trying to do, but damnit, where are we?”
    Gary Crawford

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