Walter Darlington "Dee" Huddleston (April 15, 1926 – October 16, 2018) was an American politician. He was a Democrat from Kentucky who represented the state in the United States Senate from 1973 until 1985. Life and career
Huddleston was born April 15, 1926 in Burkesville, the seat of Cumberland County in south central Kentucky. After he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as a tank gunner in Europe during and after World War II from 1944 to 1946. He then attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington, from which he graduated in 1949. In 1947 he married Martha Jean Pearce (1929–2003).
Huddleston was a manager of radio stations in Kentucky from 1949 to 1972. He entered politics in 1964 when he was elected to the Kentucky State Senate. He was elected as a state senator in 1965, serving until 1972; for a time, he was the body's majority leader.
In 1972, Huddleston ran for the U.S. Senate seat which was being vacated by retiring Republican John Sherman Cooper. He narrowly defeated Republican Louie B. Nunn, a recent former governor, receiving a 51% to 48% margin. Huddleston was reelected in 1978 with 61 percent of the vote over the former Republican state Representative Louie R. Guenthner, Jr., of Louisville.
In 1984, Huddleston's Republican opponent was Jefferson County (Louisville) Judge-Executive Mitch McConnell. McConnell gained political traction with a series of television campaign ads making sport of Huddleston's attendance record in the Senate. Mitch McConnell accused him of putting "his private speaking engagements ahead of his Senate responsibilities." Despite these ads, the race was very close, with McConnell only defeating Huddleston when the last returns came in (49.9%-to-49.5%).
Huddleston was known as a member of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, as was typical of party members from Kentucky.
In the late 1980s, Huddleston was the head of the English Language Political Action Committee (a.k.a. "El Pac"). He currently serves on the National Board of Advisors of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
After leaving the Senate, Huddleston moved to Elizabethtown, the seat of Hardin County in west central Kentucky.
In 2012, Huddleston announced he was stepping down as Chairman of First Financial Service Corporation. In 2014 he was inducted into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame. He died October 16, 2018 in Warsaw, Gallatin County at the age of 92.