Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Fordice studied engineering at Purdue University, becoming a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and earning a Bachelor of Science and Mississippi in 1956 and 1957, respectively.
He was the 60th Governor of Mississippi from January 14, 1992, until January 11, 2000. He was the first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction-era governor Adelbert Ames, who served from 1874 to 1876. After graduation he served with the United States Army as an engineer officer in the 1st Infantry Division for two years.
He remained in the Army Reserve until 1977, retiring with the rank of colonel.
Fordice was re-elected in 1995 against Democratic Mississippi secretary of state Dick Molpus. His second inauguration was on January 16, 1996.
An outspoken conservative, Fordice advocated tax cuts, the abolishment of affirmative action, reductions in the welfare system, expanded capital punishment, tougher prison conditions and the building of more prisons. Fordice also alarmed Jewish groups such as B"nai B"rith by referring to America as "a Christian Nation" during a Republican governors conference.
South Carolina governor Carroll Campbell quickly offered a correction, adding "Judeo-" as a prefix to Christian, but Fordice snapped back that he meant what he said.
Fordice later apologized for any offense. Fordice also refused to discuss any increase in public school pay rates across the state, even though Mississippi ranked 49th in the nation. When teachers discussed striking he ordered that any teacher who went on strike be immediately fired.
In August 1996, Fordice signed an executive order banning recognition of same-sex marriages in Mississippi.
Lawmakers said then that they would back up the executive order with a law. In 2004, Mississippi voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and further banning recognition of same-sex marriages from other states and countries.
Fordice said he would have quit his position of Governor while still in office, except that he didn"t want to give the Democratic candidate, Lieutenant Governor Ronnie Musgrove, any spot-light time of running the state before the actual election.
Secretary Mississippi Republican Party, Jackson, 1981-1988. Vice-chairman Vicksburg-Tallulah District Airport Board. Chairman Economic Development Foundation, Vicksburg, 1984.
Served to colonel C.E., United States Army Reserve. Fellow American Society of Civil Engineers (president Vicksburg branch 1982, Outstanding Civil Engineer of Year Mississippi section 1992). Member National Society of Professional Engineers, National Rifle Association, Associated General Contractors of Mississippi, (Outstanding Member of Year award 1992), American Institute Constructors, Consultant Constructors Council American, Society of America Military Engineers, Associate General Contractors American (national president 1990, national life director, president Mississippi Valley flood control branch 1970, Man of Year award 1992), American Construction Industry Forum (president 1991), Confederation International Contractor's Associations (vice president 1990-2004), Southern Governors Association (chairman), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Aeronautical Association, Reserve Officers Association, Quiet Birdmen, American Quarter Horse Association, Safari Club International, Game Conservation International, Rivertown Club (Vicksburg), The Moles, Nature Conservancy, Sigma Chi (Significant Sig award 1993), Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon.
Married Patricia Louise Owens, August 13, 1955 (divorced 1999). Children: Angela Leigh Fordice Roselle, Daniel K. III, Hunter L., James Owens. Married Ann Creson, February 26, 2000 (divorced 2003).