Jim Folsom Jr.

Jim Folsom Jr.
50th Governor of Alabama
In office
April 22, 1993  January 16, 1995
Preceded by Guy Hunt
Succeeded by Fob James
25th and 29th Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
In office
January 15, 2007  January 17, 2011
Governor Bob Riley
Preceded by Lucy Baxley
Succeeded by Kay Ivey
In office
January 19, 1987  April 22, 1993
Governor Guy Hunt
Preceded by Bill Baxley
Succeeded by Don Siegelman
Personal details
Born James Elisha Folsom Jr.
(1949-05-14) May 14, 1949
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marsha Guthrie
Alma mater Jacksonville State University
Religion Episcopalianism
Military service
Allegiance  Alabama
Service/branch Alabama National Guard
Years of service 1968-1970

James Elisha Folsom Jr. (born May 14, 1949) is an American Democratic politician who was the 50th Governor of Alabama from April 22, 1993 to January 16, 1995. He has also served as Lieutenant Governor of Alabama on two separate occasions.

Early life and career

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, he is the son of former First Lady of Alabama Jamelle Folsom and legendary two-term Alabama Governor James E. "Big Jim" Folsom Sr.[1] Jim Folsom Jr. is therefore known as "Little Jim" even though he is well over six feet tall. In 1974, he graduated from Jacksonville State University, where he presently serves as a trustee.

During his first run for a political office, he lost the primary to incumbent Democratic Congressman Tom Bevill by an overwhelming margin. However he was elected to the Alabama Public Service Commission in 1978.

In 1980, he ran for the U.S. Senate and attacked the incumbent, Donald W. Stewart, as being too liberal for Alabama and called him a "puppet of the great Washington power structure." Although Stewart outspent Folsom with 500,000 to 75,000 USD, he very narrowly missed winning majority in the primary and lost in the runoff.[2] He was re-elected to the Alabama Public Service Commission in 1982.

Folsom narrowly lost the next general election to Republican Jeremiah Denton, who was aided by the Ronald Reagan landslide, which helped Republican candidates across the country.

Folsom was elected Alabama Lieutenant Governor and served from January 19, 1987 to April 22, 1993 (being re-elected in 1990), where Folsom served as President and Presiding Officer of the Alabama State Senate and also served on the National Association of Lieutenant Governors. He served under Governor H. Guy Hunt, the first Republican Alabama Governor since Reconstruction. Hunt and Folsom also happen to be from the same (Cullman) county.


In 1993, Hunt was convicted of state ethics law violations regarding the funding of Hunt's second inaugural ceremonies. Like most states, Alabama's constitution bars convicted felons from holding office. As a result, Hunt was forced to resign on April 22, 1993 and Folsom automatically became governor.

Only weeks after Folsom assumed the office, state officials were approached by Mercedes-Benz about the possibility of locating its first manufacturing plant outside Germany in Alabama. Over the following months, Folsom led Alabama's efforts to recruit the facility, culminating in an October 1993 announcement that Alabama had beaten 30 other states for the coveted facility. The prestige of the Mercedes plant opened the door for future automotive plants to locate in the state.[3]

Within six days after taking office Governor Folsom ordered the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol to a memorial.[4] His de facto Chief of Staff was his longtime friend and confidant, Charlie Waldrep, an attorney at Waldrep, Stewart & Kendrick, LLC. Governor Folsom also appointed a number of African Americans and women to his staff.[5]

In 1994, he ran for a full four-year term in his own right, but was narrowly defeated by former Democratic Governor Fob James, who was running as a Republican. Although some regarded Folsom as a popular Governor, he won only 54% of the vote in the Democratic primary, not enough to defeat James in the general election.

Post-governorship and return to politics

In 2006, Folsom reentered state politics, running again as the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. He won the Democratic nomination unopposed, and in the general election, he narrowly defeated Republican lawyer Luther Strange for a third, nonconsecutive four-year term in all with the previous six years he served as Lieutenant Governor, Folsom is the longest-serving Lieutenant Governor in Alabama history with 10 years of service with his third term ending on January 17, 2011.

Folsom endorsed former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean in 2004 Democratic presidential primaries.[6] In the 1988 primaries, he supported Al Gore.

Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. announced on April 1, 2009, he would seek re-election as Lieutenant Governor in 2010 rather than run for the Democratic nomination for Governor.[7] On November 2, 2010, Folsom was defeated in a re-election bid for an unprecedented fourth term by the Republican candidate, State Treasurer Kay Ivey.

Folsom is married to the former Marsha Guthrie. They have two children. He is an Episcopalian.

Electoral history

Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives – AL 4th district, 1976

Democratic primary for the United States Senate, 1980

Democratic runoff for the United States Senate, 1980

United States Senate election in Alabama, 1980

Democratic primary for Lt. Governor, 1986

Democratic runoff for Lt. Governor, 1986

Election for Lieutenant Governor, 1986

Democratic primary for Lt. Governor, 1990

Election for Lieutenant Governor, 1990

Democratic primary for Governor, 1994

Alabama gubernatorial election, 1994

Democratic primary for Lt. Governor, 2006

Election for Lieutenant Governor, 2006



  1. "Former Ala. first lady Jamelle Folsom dies at 85". Associated Press. Montgomery Advertiser. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
  2. Alan Abramowitz, Jeffrey Allan Segal, Senate Elections. First thorough study of modern elections to the U.S. Senate, University of Michigan Press, 1992, ISBN 0-472-08192-6, ISBN 978-0-472-08192-9
  3. "Mercedes Picks State for Plant," The Huntsville Times, September 29, 1993, p. A1
  4. "Rebel Flag Could Have Cost State Mercedes Plant," The Huntsville Times, October 2, 1993, p.A2
  5. "James E. Folsom Jr. (1993–95)". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  6. 1 2 Our Campaigns – Candidate – Folsom, Jr., James E. "Jim"
  7. "Folsom won't run for governor in '10 | al.com". Blog.al.com. April 1, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2010.
Political offices
Preceded by
Chris Whatley
Member of the Alabama Public Service Commission
for the 2nd seat

Succeeded by
Charles Martin
Preceded by
Bill Baxley
Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Don Siegelman
Preceded by
Guy Hunt
Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Fob James
Preceded by
Lucy Baxley
Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Kay Ivey
Party political offices
Preceded by
Donald Stewart
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Alabama
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Richard Shelby
Preceded by
Bill Baxley
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
1986, 1990
Succeeded by
Don Siegelman
Preceded by
Paul Hubbert
Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama
Preceded by
Lucy Baxley
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama
2006, 2010
Succeeded by
James Fields
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