Robert L. "Bob" Cohee
|Chair of the Arkansas Republican Party|
March 1982 – December 1982
|Preceded by||Harlan Holleman|
|Succeeded by||Morris S. Arnold|
|Born||August 17, 1938|
Brawley, Imperial County, California, USA
|Died||February 14, 2013 (aged 74)|
Cotter, Baxter County, Arkansas
|Resting place||Not revealed|
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Ann Miller Cohee (married 1956-2013, his death)|
|Children||Dan, David, and Don Cohee|
|Parents||Russell and Pearl Taylor Cohee|
|Occupation||Real estate businessman|
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
Cohee was the owner and former operator of Cohee Realty Company in Midway in Baxter County. He served as a county judge of Baxter County and was a former director of the Arkansas Racing Commission. He was president of the interest group, Citizens for Clean Water.
State party chairmanship
In March 1982, Cohee became the state chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party upon the death of Harlan Holleman of Wynne in eastern Arkansas. During his brief tenure as chairman, the GOP Governor Frank D. White was defeated for a second term by Bill Clinton, the Democrat and future U.S. President whom White had unseated in 1980.Cohee had resigned a $27,000 per year position as deputy director of the Arkansas Housing Development Agency in Little Rock to serve as the full-time unpaid chairman during the election campaign. After the election, Governor White and U.S. Representatives Edwin Bethune of Arkansas's 2nd congressional district and John Paul Hammerschmidt of the 3rd district announced that they preferred Morris S. Arnold, a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, as the new state chairman, rather than the more conservative Cohee. The exact vote of the 119 delegates to the state convention held in Little Rock was not released. Cohee later said that he would not have sought a full term as chairman had he known in advance of the opposition from White, Bethune, and Hammerschmidt, the party's then "Big Three". The nomination of Arnold was made by State Representative Carolyn Pollan of Fort Smith, a backer of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, who called Arnold "a bringer-together, a unifier" who would offer "strong leadership." In accepting the chairmanship, Arnold said he would "call Bill Clinton out if he fails to keep his promises." A native of Texarkana, Texas. Arnold said that he would keep his law professorship at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and serve as a part-time chairman. He vowed to seek African American support but said the task would be difficult because of Clinton's black voter base.Arnold resigned as chairman after only a year in the position.
As Cohee left the chairmanship without fanfare, the party named William Thomas "Tom" Kelly, Jr. (1942-2011) of Little Rock as its treasurer. Kelly had been an unsuccessful Moderate Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1978 against the Democrat David Pryor. In that race, Kelly had lost all seventy-five counties. His father, William "Bill" Kelly, would later become another in a string of short-term Arkansas state party chairman during a time when the party continued to lose most elections. He stepped down in favor of another party regular, Len E. Blaylock, the 1972 gubernatorial nominee from Perry County, who had been badly defeated by Dale Bumpers.
Cohee and his wife, the former Patricia "Pat" Ann Miller, married on May 25, 1956, in Bard in Imperial County, California. At the time of his death at the age of seventy-four, they resided in rural Cotter in Baxter County. There are three Cohee sons, Dan Cohee of Gassville in Baxter County, David Cohee of Cotter, and Don Cohee of Springdale, Arkansas.
Richard Homan of Mountain Home in Baxter County described his friend Cohee as "like a bulldog. He didn't let go until a problem was resolved."
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- "Robert "Bob" L. Cohee". rollerfuneralhomes.com. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Arkansas Gazette, November 3, 1982, p. 1
- Arkansas Gazette, November 14, 1982, December 5, 1982; Arkansas Democrat, December 5, 1982.
- "Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (1941- )". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Arkansas Secretary of State, Election results, November 7, 1978.
- "GOP leader Bob Cohee, 74, dead: Remembered as political 'lightning rod," The Baxter Bulletin,|accessed May 26, 2014}}
|Party political offices|
| State Chairman, Arkansas Republican Party
Robert L. "Bob" Cohee
Morris S. Arnold
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