Paul Edward Patton (born May 26, 1937) is an American politician who served as the 59th governor of Kentucky from 1995 to 2003.
Because of a 1992 amendment to the Kentucky Constitution, he was the first governor eligible to succeed himself in office since James Garrard in 1800.
Since 2013, he has been the chancellor of the University of Pikeville in Pikeville, Kentucky after serving as its president from 2010 to 2013.
He also served as chairman of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education from 2009 to 2011.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1959, Patton became wealthy operating coal mines for 20 years.
He sold most of his coal interests in the late 1970s and entered politics, serving briefly in the cabinet of Governor John Y.
and chairing the state Democratic Party.
In 1981, he was elected judge/executive of Pike County.
He made an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor in 1987, but was elected in 1991, serving concurrently as lieutenant governor and secretary of economic development under Governor Brereton Jones.
Four years later, Patton was elected Governor over Republican Larry Forgy.
The major achievement of his first term was overhauling higher education, including making the state's community colleges and technical schools independent of the University of Kentucky and organizing them into the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
Shortly after Patton turned back a weak challenge to his re-election in 1999, two Democratic state senators defected to the Republican Party, giving Republicans a majority in that legislative house for the first time ever.
The economic prosperity that fueled Patton's first term success faded into a recession in the early 2000s.
Faced with a hostile legislature and a dire economic forecast, Patton was unable to enact much significant legislation in his second term, and his situation was exacerbated in 2002 when news of an extramarital affair and allegations of a sex-for-favors scandal broke.
After initially denying the affair, Patton later admitted to it, but continued to deny using his office to benefit his mistress.
Later in his term, Patton was attacked for pardoning four of his political advisers who were indicted for violating Kentucky's campaign finance laws and for allegedly abusing his patronage powers.
These successive scandals derailed any further political aspirations.