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Henry was born in Sweetwater, Tennessee. He attended Cleveland State Community College from 1971 to 1973 and then enrolled in Tennessee Technological University, graduating in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He became involved in the radio broadcasting industry and in 1985 was elected mayor of Cookeville, Tennessee.
Henry, a Republican, was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1988 from the 43rd House District, a largely rural area centered around Cookeville, the site of Tennessee Tech, which had almost uniformly supported Democrats in the past.
When it became apparent that no prominent Republicans were going to challenge popular incumbent Tennessee governor Ned McWherter for re-election in 1990, Henry entered the fray, winning the primary election easily, apparently with the understanding that his chances of defeating McWherter in the general election were incredibly low, and also that McWherter, a moderate who was also supported by many prominent Republicans including many of their major contributors and fund raisers, would control the vast majority of all financial contributions made to the race.
Henry's appeal was essentially solely to Republican straight-ticket voters and conservatives, and he received only about one-third of the votes in the November general election. While some speculated that his motive at the time was to become better known and enter other political races in the future, to date he has not done so. He has, however, occasionally served as a radio commentator and analyst with regards to Tennessee political issues.
Dwight Henry is no relation to Jim Henry, former minority leader of the Tennessee House of Representatives and candidate for governor in the 2002 Republican primary, but is frequently confused with him, as both have run for the Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee in recent years, and served together in the Tennessee House from relatively nearby districts.
Henry was the youngest man ever elected to the office of mayor in Cookeville. Because of this, Henry was able to add another record to his family in May 1986. Brittany Kylene Henry was the first baby born to a mayor of Cookeville while he was still in office.
|Party political offices|
|Republican Party nominee for Governor of Tennessee|