Charles Wayne Dowdy (born July 27, 1943) is an American politician and lawyer from Mississippi. He was first elected in a 1981 special election and served four terms in the United States House of Representatives. He later served as chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

Wayne Dowdy
Wayne Dowdy.png
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th district
In office
July 7, 1981 – January 3, 1989
Preceded byJon Hinson
Succeeded byMike Parker
Personal details
Charles Wayne Dowdy

(1943-07-27) July 27, 1943 (age 76)
Fitzgerald, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Susan Dowdy

Early lifeEdit

Dowdy was born in Fitzgerald, Ben Hill County, Georgia. He grew up in the Methodist Church and is a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He set up a law practice in Mississippi and purchased two local radio stations. He entered politics and was elected as mayor of McComb, Mississippi, serving from 1978 to 1981.

Political careerEdit

On July 7, 1981, Dowdy was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in a special election for the 4th District. In this election the Democrats recaptured a Southern district from the Republicans, in a period when the white electorate in the South was shifting to the Republican Party. Dowdy carefully managed to avoid drawing strong Republican challengers in the general election or African-American opponents in the Democratic primary.

He won re-election narrowly in 1982 and 1984, with 53 percent and 55 percent of the vote, before being re-elected with 72 percent of the vote in the 1986 elections. He was notable for being a rather progressive Democrat by Mississippi standards of the time in a district with a 37 percent African-American population; in 1982 he voted for renewal of the Voting Rights Act.

In 1988, when John Stennis retired from the Senate, Dowdy won the Democratic nomination. His opponent was Republican Congressman Trent Lott. Dowdy was unable to implement his rural strategy and lost to Lott by a 54 percent-45 percent margin. He was severely hampered by George H.W. Bush carrying Mississippi with a 59 percent to 39 percent margin. He also lost badly in Lott's congressional district, taking only 30 percent of the vote.

Dowdy attempted to stage a comeback against Governor Ray Mabus in the 1991 Democratic gubernatorial primary, but lost with 41 percent of the vote.

Personal lifeEdit

Dowdy is a Methodist. His wife, Susan is from Grenada, Mississippi. They have three children.[1]

He practices law in Magnolia, Mississippi. His family owns several radio stations in Mississippi and Louisiana and is a former staff announcer for television station WJTV-TV in Jackson, Mississippi.


  1. ^ "Collins Speaker Series: Wayne Dowdy » Mississippi State University Libraries". Retrieved 2017-12-18.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jon Hinson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th congressional district

July 7, 1981 – January 3, 1989
Succeeded by
Mike Parker