Colorful Kentucky Politician Gatewood Galbraith Dies

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Gatewood Galbraith was best known for his many attempts to run for governor. The most famous plank in his platform was marijuana. Galbraith claimed marijuana cured his asthma. Galbraith died Wednesday at the age of 64.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now, let's say goodbye to a different kind American character. The Kentucky politician Gatewood Galbraith has died at the age of 64.

Gabe Bullard, of our member station WFPL, explains why he became a familiar name in Kentucky and beyond.

GABE BULLARD, BYLINE: Gatewood Galbraith ran for governor five times. Most recently, last year as an Independent. And the most famous plank in his platform was pot. Galbraith claimed marijuana cured the asthma that kept him out of the Marines and he frequently pushed for its legalization. He earned an endorsement from Willie Nelson and he readily discussed his habits with reporters.

GATEWOOD GALBRAITH: I smoke whenever it's appropriate. You know, I might smoke again tomorrow. I don't know. Just the opportunity presents itself and it's not going to interfere with anything I do.

BULLARD: Galbraith's most recent running mate, Dea Riley, says his emphasis on certain liberties made him a forefather of modern political movements in Kentucky.

DEA RILEY: Gatewood was invited to a Tea Party meeting. And Gatewood was never a big Tea Partier himself, but he appreciated the dialogue. And he arrived and everyone said, oh, Gatewood, you know, thank you so much for coming. It's wonderful to have you here. And Gatewood responded, what are you talking about? I've been here for 30 years. Where have you people been?

BULLARD: But Galbraith had liberal followers too. He wanted to freeze college tuition and he was the only gubernatorial candidate who opposed mountaintop removal coal mining. And he was funny, always ready to make a joke during a debate or stump speech. Here he is in a video talking to a barber about lobbyists.

GALBRAITH: I call them the petro-chemical-pharmaceutical-military-industrial-transational-corporate-fascist-elite SOBs.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BULLARD: But, ultimately, it was the party system the former Democrat scorned that kept him from winning. And people close to him said he had decided to make last year's campaign his final run for office.

For NPR News, I'm Gabe Bullard in Louisville.

WERTHEIMER: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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