Jim Guy Tucker, Governor

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James Guy "Jim" Tucker, Jr.

Birthplace: Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Guy Tucker and Willie Maud (Mimi) White

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Jim Guy Tucker, Governor



James "Jim" Guy Tucker, Jr. (born June 13, 1943) is an Arkansas political figure. He served as the 43rd Governor of Arkansas, the 11th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, Arkansas Attorney General, and U.S. Representative. Tucker has been married to the former Betty Allen since 1975.

Tucker resigned the governorship and was replaced by Mike Huckabee on July 16, 1996, after his conviction for fraud during the Whitewater affair, although the conviction was not directly related to the investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton's real estate and related business dealings.

Early life

Tucker was born in Oklahoma City and moved to Arkansas before school age. He attended public schools in Little Rock, graduating from Hall High School in 1961. He had his first taste of politics when he ran for and was elected Vice-President of Key Club International (the largest and oldest high school service organization in the United States). He served in that organization from 1960–61. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University in 1963.

Early career

Tucker served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1964, but was discharged for medical reasons (chronic ulcers) after finishing at the top of the first phase of his officer candidate training class at Camp Upshur at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Virginia. In early 1965, Tucker found passage to southeast Asia by tramp steamer from San Francisco and entered South Vietnam as an accredited freelance war correspondent.

With one brief sojourn home, he remained in the war zone through 1967, personally participating in a number of engagements. Late that year, he published Arkansas Men at War, a compendium of interviews with troops from the state he had followed into combat. The book received generally favorable reviews.

Following a brief stint as an assistant professor of American history at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, Tucker returned to the University of Arkansas Law School in 1968 as a second-year student, graduated, and was admitted to the bar that same year.

Law career

Tucker practiced as a junior associate with the Rose Law Firm, from which he ran for prosecuting attorney in 1970. He served as prosecutor for the Sixth Judicial District of Arkansas 1971–1972. In that office, he oversaw the prosecution of more than 1,000 backlogged felony cases inherited from previous administrations. He won convictions in several cases considered by local wags as "impossible" successfully to prosecute, including one kidnapping.

Twelve "guest" judges were temporarily reassigned from other circuits by the state supreme court at Tucker's request to clear the arrearages. He was appointed by the Governor to the Arkansas Criminal Code Revision Commission and served from 1973 to 1975, during which time he was credited with spearheading the group's broad revision of the state's criminal laws.

An investigation into police corruption he began was stymied by a county grand jury appointed by a circuit judge who was a political ally of the chief of police. However, the following year, a federal grand jury, building on Tucker's work, issued a scathing report which led to a shake-up of the department and the resignation of the chief, senior detectives and complicit city officials.

Political career

Tucker was elected Arkansas Attorney General in November 1972. He easily defeated the Republican nominee Edwin Bethune, then of Searcy in White County, and later Tucker's successor as U.S. Representative from the Little Rock-based Arkansas's 2nd congressional district.

Tucker served two two-year terms as attorney general, 1973–1977. He was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Running from his post as attorney general, Tucker was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-fifth Congress and served one term, January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1979.

He relinquished the seat to wage an unsuccessful campaign for the United States Senate in 1978. He was defeated by the sitting governor, David Pryor. In the same election, Bill Clinton, who had replaced Tucker in 1977 as attorney general, was elected governor.

Tucker resumed his law practice. A consistent intra-party rival of Clinton, he was defeated by Clinton when both sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1982 following Clinton's defeat by Republican Frank White in 1980. Eight years later, Tucker announced his intention to run for the governor's office again against Clinton, who was seeking a fifth term. However, he withdrew from the gubernatorial primary and ran instead for the post of Lieutenant Governor.

He recognized that Clinton had his eyes on the presidency and might not serve a full term. He succeeded to the governorship upon Clinton's resignation on December 12, 1992. Tucker won election in 1994 against the Republican Sheffield Nelson to a four year term as Governor and was sworn-in to a full four-year term on January 10, 1995.

Conviction and resignation

Tucker was convicted of one count of conspiracy and one count of mail fraud in 1996 as part of Kenneth Starr's investigation of the Whitewater scandal. Tucker was tried with fellow defendants James B. McDougal and his wife Susan McDougal, the prosecution conducted primarily by OIC prosecutor Ray Jahn. Tucker chose not to testify in his own defense upon the advice of his attorney. Tucker received a lenient sentence of four years' probation and house detention in part because of his poor health.

Arkansas, like most other states, has a provision in its state constitution barring convicted felons from elective office. As a result, Tucker announced his pending resignation. As Lieutenant Governor, Mike Huckabee, a Republican, was preparing to be sworn in, Tucker rescinded his resignation on several grounds, including his appeal because a juror on his trial was married to a man whose cocaine possession conviction Tucker had twice refused to commute. Furthermore, this juror was the niece of local activist Robert "Say" McIntosh, who had demonstrated against Tucker during the trial. He also contended, and an appellate court later agreed, that one of the statutes he allegedly violated was no longer operable. Arguing that his conviction was thus tainted, and that the Arkansas constitution was vague about his status as a convicted felon until his appeals had been exhausted. However, at the last minute he did resign, under the threat of impeachment by the legislature which had convened to witness Huckabee's swearing in.


Tucker along with James Riady, established a company called AcrossAsia Multimedia Ltd. With AcrossAsia Multimedia they wanted to build the largest cable TV infrastructure in Indonesia using a company called Kabelvision. The venture was unsuccessful.

Health problems

Tucker had liver problems which seriously debilitated him and threatened his life (he had nearly died from gastro-intestinal bleeding in 1994, and had steadily worsened since). In 1997, Tucker received a liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Jim Guy Tucker, Governor's Timeline

June 13, 1943
Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, United States