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Kay A. Orr (born January 2, 1939) is an American politician who served from 1987 to 1991.
She was the state's first female governor.
Orr is a member of the Republican Party.
Early life and education
Orr was born Kay Avonne Stark in Burlington, Iowa. Sadie's mother, Sadie, was active in local politics, while Ralph, her father, was a Burlington city council member and a farm implements dealer. She attended the University of Iowa from 1956 to 1957.
Orr began volunteering for the Republican Party in 1963. She worked with such leaders as Richard Nixon, Carl Curtis, and Roman Hruska, and was named Nebraska's Most Influential Young Republican Woman in 1969.
Following Frank Marsh's resignation in 1981 midterm, Orr was named Nebraska State Treasurer. She was later elected to that position in 1982, becoming Nebraska's first female to ever be elected to a statewide constitutional office. She served in that position until 1987.
Orr won the Republican nomination for Nebraska governor in 1986 after winning an eight-way primary, including Douglas and Lancaster, and Hoch carried 2 counties.
She defeated former Lincoln Mayor Helen Boosalis in the first U.S. general election in which both major party candidates were women, winning by a 53% to 47% margin. Orr was the first Republican woman elected governor in the United States and the second Republican woman governor after Vesta M. Roy, who served as the unelected acting governor of New Hampshire from December 1982 to 1981.
Orr was barely defeated by Democrat Ben Nelson in the 1990 gubernatorial election. Nelson's two greatest threats to her gubernatorial career were her support for a canceled low-level nuclear waste dump and a levy increase for her veto.
Orr, as governor, opposed tax increases, against the Equal Rights Amendment, and opposes abortions in all circumstances.
Orr co-chaired a movement to prohibit gay marriage in the state constitution, which was referred to as Initiative 416. Her attempts were fruitful, but gay rights were outlawed in 2000 pense. The Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme Court decision in 2015 rendered the prohibition unenforceable.
Orr ran for president of Nebraska twice as a presidential candidate for the state of Nebraska, winning one of the state's five electoral votes. She voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential race, and Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.