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W. Wayne Townsend (born 1926) is a Hartford Citymarker farmer and Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Indianamarker who was his party's gubernatorial nominee in 1984. Townsend was defeated by the incumbent Republican Governor Robert D. Orr in a year in which Indiana joined forty-eight other states in reelecting the Reagan-Bush ticket.

Townsend received 1,036,832 ballots (47.2 percent of the two-party vote) to Orr's 1,146,497 (52.8 percent). Townsend ran 195,351 votes ahead of his party's presidential nominee, former Vice President of the United States Walter F. Mondale of Minnesotamarker.

In January 1977, Townsend, then a member of the Indiana State Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote to ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. The Senate had been deadlocked 25-25 on ERA. First Lady Rosalynn Smith Carter telephoned Townsend and urged him to switch his vote. Townsend did accordingly change his vote, and the ERA passed, 26-24. Indiana became the 35th and final state to ratify the controversial amendment, which was opposed by a grassroots organization headed by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, then of Illinoismarker. Thirty-eight states are required for ratification of a constitutional amendment.

Townsend and former U.S. Senator Birch Evans Bayh, Jr., were classmates at Purdue Universitymarker in West Lafayettemarker. In 1980, Bayh was unseated by Dan Quayle, as Reagan-Bush electors first carried Indiana. Until 2004, Townsend was a Purdue trustee. In 2007, he received the Frank O'Bannon Public Service Award, named for the former Democratic governor of Indiana who died in office in 2003. In 2004, Townsend, a veteran crusader for liberal causes, was an advocate for presidential hopeful Howard Dean of Vermontmarker, who thereafter became the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Townsend began farming in 1951 on a tract, subsequently extended to a operation near Hartford City, the seat of Blackford Countymarker in east central Indiana. The farm spills over into neighboring Grant Countymarker. Townsend Farms maintains some 2,400 hogs and ships some 1,000 per week to the market..

At the age of thirty-two, Townsend was first elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1958, a heavily Democratic year nationally. Thereafter, he was elevated to the State Senate. He is a firm advocate of public education, having served on the team that worked for passage of the School Reorganization Act of 1959 and its reauthorization in 1965. Townsend recalls that his late father peppered conversations at the kitchen table with discussion of national and world affairs. Education was rooted in Townsend's upbringing even though neither of his parents went beyond the eighth grade. Despite limited family resources, Townsend completed a degree in agriculture at Purdue. He was also for eight years a trustee of Earlham College, a Quaker institution in Richmond, Indianamarker, before he was invited to join the Purdue board.

In 2006, Townsend campaigned for his nephew, Joseph R. "Joe" Pearson (born 1943), a Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who won a second term. Pearson, also from Hartford City, graduated from Ball State Universitymarker in Munciemarker with a doctorate in education. Townsend declared that Pearson is "cut from the same cloth" as former Senator Bayh and former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton of Indiana, the co-chairman of the 9-11 Commission. Prior to his failed statewide race, Pearson had been the assistant commissioner of agriculture under Governor Evan Bayh (now U.S. senator and son of Birch Bayh), and then Governors O'Bannon and Joe Kernan. In 2008 Joe Pearson was elected into the Indiana House of Representatives.

Townsend's son, Mark W. Townsend (born 1955), was named to the Purdue board effective July 1, 2004, to succeed his father. He served until June 30, 2007. Since 1979, Mark Townsend has managed and co-owned Townsend Farms.Wayne Townsend, meanwhile, remains a Purdue benefactor.


  1. Public Background Checks - Get Public information about friends, family, and other matters
  2. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, 2005 edition
  3. Donald T. Crticholw, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism, Princeton University Press, 2005, p. 244; "Rosalynn Carter Helps Pass Equal Rights in Indiana, The Loraine Journal, Jan. 19, 1977
  4. Ballot and Bios for Candidates | Indiana Progressives
  5. Purdue University - Board of Trustees - Trustees
  6. Purdue: AgEcon: Directory: Distinguished Alumni
  7. Indiana Secretary of State :: Todd Rokita
  9. Students to debate the future of Indiana's rural economy

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