Buddy MacKay
Kenneth Hood "Buddy" MacKay, Jr. (born March 22, 1933) is an American politician and diplomat from Florida. A Democrat, he was briefly the 42nd Governor of Florida following the death of Lawton Chiles on December 12, 1998. During his long public service career he was also state legislator, U.S. Representative, Lt. Governor and later special envoy of President Bill Clinton's administration for the Americas.

As of 2010 he is the last Democrat to serve as Florida Governor, while Chiles remains the last Democrat elected to that office.

Early life and career
MacKay was born to a citrus-farming family in Ocala, Florida. He served in the United States Air Force during the 1950s, and then attended the University of Florida, eventually receiving a law degree. MacKay was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame (the most prestigious honor a student can receive from UF). He married Anne Selph in 1960; the couple has four sons: Ben, and three others.

MacKay was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1968, and to the Florida Senate in 1975. From 1983 to 1989 he served for three terms in the United States House of Representatives, where he made controlling the national budget one of his main concerns. In 1988 he received the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, but lost in a very close race for that office to Connie Mack III.

Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate
MacKay won the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor on the ticket headed by former Senator Lawton Chiles. They won the election and were re-elected in 1994.

As Lieutenant Governor, MacKay was given many duties and played a very important role in Chiles' cabinet, including being co-chair of the Florida Commission on Education, Reform and Accountability. He was regarded as the most significant and powerful lieutenant governor in Florida's history.

MacKay was a strong supporter of use of capital punishment, as Chiles was. When he was asked during gubernatorial election about his positions on use the death penalty and electric chair in Florida, he replied: I support the death penalty and support the use of the electric chair so long as it operates in a reliable fashion. However he suggested Florida should change its mode of execution after Pedro Medina's botched execution, said: The last thing we want to do is generate sympathy for these killers.

In 1998 MacKay sought to succeed term-limited Chiles as Governor, easily winning the Democratic nomination with his full support (Chiles and MacKay were known for their friendly relationship). He, however, was unable to beat Republican nominee Jeb Bush.

Despite defeat, MacKay became Chiles' successor when Chiles died unexpectedly on December 12, 1998. MacKay was at this time in Boston with his wife. When they returned to their hotel room, they found a message about Chiles' death, asking MacKay to get on a plane to Atlanta, where they were picked up by a state crew and flown through thick fog to Tallahassee. At 12.30 a.m. the next day 65-year old MacKay was sworn-in as Florida's 42nd Governor at his capitol office for the 23 days remaining in Chiles' term.

MacKay's primary tasks as Governor were overseeing Chiles' funeral service and transition of power to Governor-Elect Bush. He, however, made some leftover appointments.

There's no great pleasure in this - said MacKay about taking a job he sought, but got for a short time after his political partner's death. He also stated how sorry he was that he would be unable because of short time and lack of mandate to take care on such issues as education and health care.

MacKay was succeeded by Bush on January 5, 1999.

Diplomacy and later life
After his governorship ended, MacKay retired from active politics. He, however, remains publicly active.

He was appointed by President Clinton a special envoy for the Americas. During his tenure he traveled to 26 countries in the Americas, working on issues such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), hemispheric security, strengthening the rule of law, labor standards, environmental policies and human rights.

He attended a symposium “Day with Florida Governors”, organized by University of Central Florida and Louis Frey institute on March 27, 2006 with Governor Bush and former Governors Claude Roy Kirk, Jr., Reubin Askew, Bob Graham and Bob Martinez (Wayne Mixson, who served for three days after Graham's resignation wasn’t present at the event).

MacKay's memoir about his political career, How Florida Happened, was published by the University Press of Florida in March 2010.

Source: Wikipedia

Luciano Mende

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