Widow of Slain Arkansas Democratic Chairman to Attend DNC

August 21, 2008 - 12:09 PM
The widow of slain state Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney will fill his spot at the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week, the governor said Thursday.
Democratic Leader Mourned; No Motive Apparent (image)

Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney was remembered as blunt but loyal and charitable, a day after he was gunned down in his office.

Little Rock, Ark. (AP) - The widow of slain state Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney will fill his spot at the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week, the governor said Thursday.

Gov. Mike Beebe said Rebecca Gwatney accepted an invitation from party leaders to fill the vacancy left in the state's delegation when her husband was killed last week.

Bill Gwatney, who would have turned 49 during the convention, was shot and killed Aug. 13 at state party headquarters, just two blocks from the Capitol.

The gunman, Timothy Dale Johnson, was shot dead by police after leading them on a 30-mile chase. Authorities said Johnson had abruptly quit his job at a Target store earlier in the day after being questioned about some graffiti on a store wall. Other than that, authorities had no motive for the shooting.

Gwatney had supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid after Arkansas' primary but switched his support to Sen. Barack Obama when Clinton left the race.