Marlow Cook

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Marlow Cook
Marlow Cook.jpg
United States Senator
from Kentucky
In office
December 17, 1968 – December 27, 1974
Preceded by Thruston B. Morton
Succeeded by Wendell H. Ford
Personal details
Born Marlow Webster Cook
(1926-07-27) July 27, 1926 (age 92)
Akron, New York
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Remmers Cook
Alma mater University of Louisville
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Battles/wars World War II

Marlow Webster Cook (born July 27, 1926) is a former Republican United States Senator from Kentucky.[1]

Early life

Cook moved to Louisville when he was 17. He joined the United States Navy and served on submarines in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans during World War II. After the war, he enrolled at the University of Louisville and earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1948 and a law degree in 1950. He practiced law in Louisville until 1957.[2]

Political career

Kentucky House of Representatives

Cook was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1957 and again in 1959. He served on a special committee analyzing education in the state and also on a planning committee.[2]

Cook was elected to two terms as Jefferson County Judge-Executive, the equivalent of a mayor position administering the populous Jefferson County, Kentucky which by the 1960s was mostly suburbs of Louisville. He was elected in 1961 and, along with fellow Republican William O. Cowger, Cook unseated the Democratic party which had held both offices for the previous 28 years.[2]

In 1962, as County Judge-Executive, Cook was partially responsible for the county's $34,000 purchase of the decrepit steamboat Avalon at public auction in Cincinnati, Ohio. Though auctioned as little more than scrap material, upon refurbishment the boat was rechristened the Belle of Louisville, and still (as of 2007) carries passengers yearly as one of the most recognizable symbols of the city of Louisville, Kentucky. At the time, Interstate 64 was being constructed along the city's waterfront, and Cook's purchase of the steamboat was intended as a measure to bring attention to the city's historic cobblestone wharf. A politically motivated taxpayer suit was brought by local lawyer Daniel Boone because of the county's expenditure of such an "outrageous sum" for a dilapidated "throwback to the Dark Ages of transportation," in Alan Bates' memorable phrase. According to Cook, the expenditure worked out to roughly 6 cents per taxpayer (a negligible sum even at that time), and when individual citizens complained, he would simply pay them off with pennies from a jar he kept in his office desk for the purpose. In a 1989 interview, Cook said that some people insisted on checks and although he wrote several such six-cent checks, none of them was ever cashed.

Cook was reelected in 1965 by a wide margin - 121,481 votes to Democrat William B. Stansbury's 71,280.[2]

In 1967, Cook ran at the top of a slate of statewide office holders as the candidate for Governor in Kentucky's Republican Primary and was defeated by Barren County Judge Louie B. Nunn, who went on to be elected the first Republican Governor in Kentucky since 1943.

United States Senate

In 1968, Cook ran for the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Thruston B. Morton. In the general election, he narrowly defeated former state Commerce Commissioner Katherine Peden. In so doing he became the first Roman Catholic to hold statewide office in Kentucky. He was one of the first Republican senators to call for Richard Nixon to resign following the Watergate Scandal.[2]

Cook was defeated in his 1974 bid for reelection by the Governor, Democrat Wendell Ford. Cook's repeated plea that Wendell Ford debate him in the race for Senator was seen as highly untraditional.[3] Following the election, Cook resigned his seat early, in December, so that Ford would have greater seniority in the United States Senate.

Later career

After his political career, Cook practiced law in Washington D.C. until 1989 when he retired to Sarasota, Florida.[1] In a fiery op-ed, he announced his support for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, saying "I have been, and will continue to be, a Republican. But when we as a party send the wrong person to the White House, then it is our responsibility to send him home if our nation suffers as a result of his actions".[4]

Some of his former aides have gone on to public office. Mitch McConnell, now a Senator himself, was Cook's chief legislative aide from 1968 to 1970[5] and John Yarmuth, member of the United States House of Representatives, was an aide to Cook in the 1970s before changing party affiliations.[6]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Thruston B. Morton
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Kentucky
Served alongside: John Sherman Cooper, Walter D. Huddleston
Succeeded by
Wendell H. Ford


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Kleber, John E., ed. (2002). The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. p. 219.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. King, Wayne (27 October 1974). "Democrat Leads in Kentucky Senate Race; Controversy Over Ads Short on Funds". New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Cook, Marlow (October 20, 2004). "A former Republican senator for Kerry". Louisville Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on December 23, 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Kiely, Kathy (2007-07-09). "Senator in tough spot on Hill, in Ky.; McConnell faces pressure to act on war in Iraq". USA Today. pp. 7A.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "John Yarmuth (D)". Washington Post. 2006-11-09. pp. A41.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links