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David Conner Treen, Sr.


In office
March 10, 1980 – July 12, 1984
Preceded by Edwin Washington Edwards
Succeeded by Edwin Washington Edwards

In office
January 3, 1973 – March 10, 1980
Preceded by Patrick T. Caffery
Succeeded by Billy Tauzin

Born July 16, 1928(1928-07-16)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Died October 29, 2009 (aged 81)
Metairie, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dolores Brisbi "Dodi" Treen (married 1951–2005, her death)
Children Jennifer Treen Neville

Dr. David C. Treen, Jr.
Cynthia Treen Lunceford
Nine grandchildren

Alma mater Tulane University
Profession Attorney
Religion United Methodist

David Conner Treen, Sr., known as Dave Treen (July 16, 1928 – October 29, 2009), was an attorney and politician from Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish– the first Republican Governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana since Reconstruction. He was also the first Republican in modern times to have served in the U.S. House of Representatives from his state. A narrow victor in the gubernatorial general election held in the fall of 1979, Treen served as governor from 1980 to 1984. He lost his bid for reelection in 1983 to his long-time rival, Democrat Edwin Edwards. He served in Congress from 1973 to 1980.

Treen grew up as a Democrat, but became a Republican in 1962 when there were only about ten thousand registered Republicans in the state. As of Treen's death in 2009, only a few other living Louisiana Republicans had exceeded his length of tenure in the GOP.

Contents

Early years and family

Treen was born in Baton Rouge to Joseph Paul Treen, Sr. (1900-1986), and the former Elizabeth Speir (1899-1990).[1] He graduated in 1945 from Alcee Fortier High School in New Orleans. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948 in history and political science from Tulane University in New Orleans. While at Tulane, he was a brother of Kappa Sigma fraternity. In 1950, he graduated from Tulane Law School and was admitted to the bar. In 1951, he wed the former Dolores "Dodi" Brisbi (November 23, 1929–March 19, 2005),[1] a graduate of Newcomb College in New Orleans, whom he met while he was attending Tulane. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1952. Treen joined the law firm of Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles. He was also a vice president of the Simplex Manufacturing Corporation of New Orleans from 1952-1957.

The Treens had three children, Jennifer Treen Neville (born ca. 1952), divorced from John Stewart Neville; Dr. David C. Treen, Jr., and his wife, Michelle M. Treen of Metairie, and Cynthia Treen Lunceford (born April 2, 1954), wife of Baton Rouge attorney Lloyd J. Lunceford (born March 3, 1955), and nine grandchildren. He also had two brothers, the late Joseph Paul Treen, Jr., and John Speir Treen and wife, Martha Ann Treen.[2]

Treen's eldest grandson, Jason Stewart Neville (born May 21, 1979) of Mandeville, was one of the founding members of the Green Party of Louisiana and ran unsuccessfully in 2003 for the Louisiana State Senate.

States' Rights Party elector candidate, 1960

In 1960, Treen opposed the election of both Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy as president and ran as an elector for the Louisiana States' Rights Party, which supported Virginia Democratic U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. In addition to Treen, the States' Rights electors included former State Senator William M. Rainach of Claiborne Parish (a defeated 1959 gubernatorial candidate) and Plaquemines Parish Judge Leander H. Perez, who was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church because of his outspoken opposition to racial integration. Another elector was the "Radical Right" figure Kent Courtney of New Orleans and later Alexandria. Still another was the anti-Long former Congressman Jared Y. Sanders, Jr., of Baton Rouge, son of former Governor Jared Y. Sanders, Sr.

Treen made it clear that his states' rights group was not affiliated with the National States' Rights Party, a group considered neo-Nazi, and, in Treen's words, "a disgrace to the term 'states rights.'" Treen's elector slate polled 169,572 ballots (21 percent) statewide. Jefferson Parish, Treen's residence, which would later support him in most of his campaigns, rejected the States' Righters and instead supported Kennedy with 51.8 percent. Nixon and Lodge electors received 230,980 (28.6 percent) in Louisiana, and Kennedy-Johnson won the state's ten electoral votes with 407,339 (50.4 percent).

One of the Kennedy electors was popular State Attorney General Jack P.F. Gremillion, a part of the Earl Kemp Long organization, who would fall to scandal a dozen years later. Another was Edmund Reggie of Crowley, Louisiana, a confidant of future Governor Edwin Edwards and later a father-in-law of Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Republican for Congress, 1962, 1964, and 1968

Treen joined the Republican Party (GOP), then still small in Louisiana, in 1962 to run for the U.S. House of Representatives against Second District Democrat Hale Boggs (1914–1972), of New Orleans though Treen's father had urged him instead to challenge Boggs for renomination in the Democratic primary. Treen, as a young Democrat in 1956, had supported then Republican congressional nominee George R. Blue in Blue's failed race against Boggs that year. Blue later switched to the Democrats and won election to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1964.

As mentioned above, Treen joined the Republican Party at a time when it was all but nonexistent in Louisiana. Under the circumstances, Treen was able to raise only $11,000 for his 1962 and polled 27,791 votes (32.8 percent) to Boggs' 57,395 (67.2 percent). His 33 percent in 1962 was some 10 percentage points higher than the 1960 Republican candidate, Elliot Ross Buckley, then of New Orleans and a cousin of the author William F. Buckley, Jr., had polled in is race against Boggs.

In 1964, Treen again challenged Boggs and improved on his earlier showing, helped by the popularity in Louisiana of the presidential candidacy of U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona and by Boggs' vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even as most Southern Democrats voted against it. In that campaign, Treen polled 62,881 (45 percent) to Boggs' 77,009 (55 percent). Treen probably would have done even better, and possibly even defeated Boggs, had it not been for Lyndon Johnson narrowly carrying New Orleans.

In 1966, Treen did not run for Congress; the GOP fielded the attorney Leonard L. Limes of New Orleans, who was badly defeated by Boggs. So, Treen tried again in 1968– his third and final campaign against Boggs, then the House majority whip. Boggs became majority leader in 1971 and was in line for Speaker. California Governor Ronald Reagan came into the district to campaign for Treen. This time, Treen almost defeated Boggs, receiving 77,633 votes (48.8 percent) to Boggs' 81,537 ballots (51.2 percent).

Treen attributed Boggs' victory to the supporters of former Alabama Governor George C. Wallace, who ran for president on the American Independent Party ticket. Treen claimed that Wallace supporters "became very cool to my candidacy. We couldn't really believe they would support Boggs, but several Democratic organizations did come out for Wallace and Boggs, and he received just enough Wallace votes to give him the election." Republican officials seemed convinced that fraudulent votes in some Orleans Parish precincts benefited Boggs and that Treen may have actually won the election. There were rumors of election officials who cast votes for people who did not show up at the polls and signed for them in the precinct registers. Treen did not contest the election because he believed that a challenge before the majority-Democratic House would be futile.

First gubernatorial campaign, 1971–1972

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Primary opposition from Robert M. Ross

Treen was challenged in the only Republican gubernatorial closed primary ever held in Louisiana. His opponent was Robert Max Ross (August 5, 1933–September 15, 2009), a native of Baskin in Franklin Parish, who grew up in Mangham in Richland Parish in north Louisiana. Ross graduated from Mangham High School in 1951 and procured a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, fought in the Vietnam War, and was a major in the Air Force Reserves. After his military service, Ross returned to Mangham, where he was involved in a number of small businesses, including a mobile home park.[3] In the 1971 primary, Treen carried the support of the party leadership, including chairman Charles deGravelles of Lafayette. Treen received 92 percent of the vote (9,732 votes) to Ross's 8 percent (839 votes). Ross challenged Treen again for governor in 1983 and ran far behind in races for the United States Senate in 1984 and 1986.

General election against Edwin Edwards

For the general election against Edwards held on February 1, 1972, Treen campaigned vigorously with billboards which said, "Make a Real Change," and television spots too, but he still lost. He polled 480,424 ballots (42.8 percent) to Edwards's 641,146 (57.2 percent) Treen carried twenty-seven parishes, mostly in the northern part of the state, with margins exceeding 60 percent in ten of those parishes. His tally was some 5 percentage points higher than what Charlton Lyons had scored in 1964 against John McKeithen. The confident and charismatic Edwards proclaimed that his administration would be an "Era of Excellence."

The Shreveport Times and its sister publication, the former Monroe Morning World (now Monroe News Star), analyzed the gubernatorial returns and concluded that Edwards received 202,055 black votes to only 10,709 for Treen. In that Edwards' statewide margin was 160,000, the survey concluded that blacks made the difference. The newspapers said that Treen received some 30,000 more votes from whites than did Edwards.

Election to Congress, 1972

After a decade of service on the Republican State Central Committee, Treen was named as the Louisiana Republican national committeeman for a two-year stint that began in 1972. His friend, James H. Boyce, a Baton Rouge industrialist, served as state party chairman while Treen was national committeeman. Over the years, Treen was the beneficiary of a group of dedicated party officials who worked on his behalf, such as National Committeeman Frank Spooner of Monroe and National Committeewoman Virginia Martinez of New Orleans. Martinez was also the treasurer of the national party conventions in 1980 and 1984.[4]

In the fall of 1972, based in part on the strength of his losing gubernatorial race, Treen ran for the open Third District House seat vacated by conservative Democrat Patrick T. Caffery of New Iberia, the seat of Iberia Parish in south Louisiana. He was a surprise winner, helped in part by the popularity of the Nixon-Agnew ticket, which carried sixty-three of the sixty-four parishes (the exception being: West Feliciana Parish) in traditionally Democratic Louisiana. Treen defeated Democrat J. Louis Watkins, Jr., of Houma, 71,090 (54 percent) to 60,521 (46 percent). His home parish of Jefferson helped to push Treen over the top with a 73 percent share of the vote.

Treen served in the congressional seat from 1973 until 1980, when he resigned to become governor. As a congressman, he voted right-of-center and usually in accord with his party. He was considered a team player among House Republicans. In 1974, Treen won a comfortable reelection in a nationally Democratic year. He defeated State Representative Charles Grisbaum, Jr., of Jefferson Parish, who became a close friend. Grisbaum later switched parties, and when Treen became governor in 1980, Grisbaum served as one of Treen's floor leaders in the Louisiana House. In 1975, Treen was joined by his first Louisiana Republican colleague in the U.S. House when Henson Moore (born 1939) won the Sixth Congressional District seat based in and about Baton Rouge and the Florida Parishes. Moore won the seat formerly held by the Democrat John Rarick. In 1976, Treen polled 73.3 percent in a race against a nominal Democratic opponent while the Democrat Jimmy Carter carried Louisiana over Gerald R. Ford.

Election as governor, 1979

In 1979, Treen filed for the nonpartisan blanket primary for governor. He finished with 297,469 votes, almost the exact numbers posted by Charlton Lyons in 1964—284 fewer votes in fact than Lyons had in a two-candidate field. The second spot was hotly contested between Public Service Commissioner Louis Lambert of Ascension Parish (282,708 votes) and outgoing Lieutenant Governor James E. "Jimmy" Fitzmorris, Jr., of New Orleans (280,412 votes).

In the Treen-Lambert general election, the defeated Democratic candidates, including the disappointed Fitzmorris, House Speaker E. L. Henry of Jonesboro, and State Senators Paul Hardy of St. Martinville and Edgar G. "Sonny" Mouton, Jr., of Lafayette, all endorsed Treen. Their support helped him to defeat Lambert by 9,557 votes. Treen received 690,691 (50.3 percent) to Lambert's 681,134 (49.7 percent). He won only 22 parishes in victory, compared to 27 parishes in defeat in 1972. Only ten parishes that had voted for Treen in 1972 stuck with him in 1979. His strongest parishes in victory were all in south Louisiana: Plaquemines, Lafayette, St. Tammany, and Iberia. Minor candidates in the primary election included the colorful L.D. Knox of Winnsboro, who during the campaign legally changed his name to "None of the Above" Knox to highlight the cause of enhancing voter options in elections.

In the losing 1972 campaign, all of Treen's strong parishes were in north Louisiana. The election of 1979 seemed to indicate that Lafayette would in time replace Shreveport as the new growth center of the Louisiana GOP. Treen's victory came from Republican inroads made in the Edwards stronghold of Acadiana, particularly Lafayette, Iberia, Terrebonne, Acadia, and St. Martin parishes, where the GOP nominee overcame large deficits from 1972 to win in 1979. Treen received only 3.1 percent of the black vote in victory, nearly identical to his black support in 1972 in defeat.

In March 1980, at the age of 51, Treen became the 51st governor of his state. He made full use of his power to appoint members of state boards and commissions. He named the Alexandria businessman and philanthropist Roy O. Martin, Jr., to the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry. He named John Henry Baker to the Louisiana Athletic Commission, since renamed the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission. Martin and Baker were both delegates to the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit.

Treen reappointed Shreveport attorney Robert G. Pugh to the Louisiana Board of Regents created by the Constitution of 1974, which Pugh had helped to write. Pugh, who was an advisor to Treen on numerous issues, also presented a plan to preserve coastal wetlands through a tax on energy, but the legislature declined to approve it. He appointed Robert DeBlieux, the outgoing Democratic mayor of Natchitoches as the state's chief preservation officer. DeBleiux had been instrumental in obtaining designation of the Natchitoches Historic District in the middle 1970s.

When Treen assumed office, only 10 of the 105 members of the Louisians House of Representatives were Republican, and all thirty-nine state senators were Democrats.

Accomplishments as governor

A few hallmarks of the Treen administration were the creation of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, a statewide high school on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches for the gifted, the establishment of the Department of Environmental Quality, and the appointment of more minorities to state positions.

Two Treen campaign confidants, John H. Cade, Jr., of Alexandria and William "Billy" Nungesser of New Orleans, worked as unpaid advisors in the administration. Cade had also managed Treen's successful congressional races in 1972, 1974, 1976, and 1978. He directed the successful 1979 gubernatorial race as well as the disastrous 1983 reelection attempt. Cade was the Republican state chairman from 1976 to 1978, and Nungesser chaired the GOP central committee as well from 1988 to 1992.[5]

Treen rewarded all of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates who endorsed him. Jimmy Fitzmorris became Executive Assistant for Economic Development. Edgar Mouton was named executive counsel to Treen, but he later abandoned the administration and endorsed the return of Edwin Edwards to the governorship in 1983. Speaker E.L. Henry became the powerful Commissioner of Administration. Louisiana Secretary of State Paul Hardy became secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development, with the former Republican mayor of Minden, Tom Colten, as his assistant. Edwards loyalist George Fischer was named secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, one of the largest departments in state government.[6]Many of the Democrat legislators remained loyal to Edwards, who operated a "shadow government" from the sidelines. Edwards said on leaving office in 1980 that he was on "a brief, mandated hiatus and would be back" in 1983.[7]

Treen obtained legislative passage of his "Professional Improvement Program" (or PIPs) for public school teachers, but the program was dropped in the next Edwards administration. PIPs allowed instructors to obtain small pay increases for taking college-level courses and/or attending intensive workshops to improve teaching performance. Problems developed when numerous teachers signed up only for classes with few academic requirements and shunned the more rigorous courses. Such action thereby negated the purpose of Treen's reform.

Treen signed into law a measure authored by State Senator Bill P. Keith of Shreveport which required balanced treatment in public school instruction regarding evolution and creation science. The measure was struck down in 1987, after Treen had left office, by the United States Supreme Court in the case Edwards v. Aguillard.[8]

Treen worked with the Lafayette delegation, including Representatives Mike Thompson and Ron Gomez, for construction of the ULL Ragin' Cajuns stadium, the Cajundome. Construction began in 1982 and was completed and dedicated late in 1985, by which time Edwards had returned to the office.[9]

During his gubernatorial term, Treen developed a reputation for indecision and micromanagement of details which frustrated supporters and angered adversaries. His failure to push for strong conservative policies and governmental reforms disappointed many Republican allies, as did his refusal to oust from his administration allies of former governor and his past and future rival, Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Treen had difficulty with the lieutenant governor, Democrat Robert "Bobby" Freeman, a former state representative from Plaquemine in Iberville Parish. Freeman, considered a liberal by Louisiana standards, vowed to exercise gubernatorial powers, as permitted under the state constitution, whenever Treen left the state, either on business or pleasure. In 1983, Freeman supported the return of Edwin Edwards as governor. Freeman, meanwhile, easily won reelection in 1983 by defeating Edwards' first lieutenant governor, Democrat-turned-Republican Jimmy Fitzmorris.

Governor Treen presided over reasumption of use of the capital punishment in Louisiana. Two convicts were executed by electric chair during his term.

Treen's wife "Dodi" was the first lady during his tenure. She was known for her graciousness and hospitality. She went out of her way to prepare the governor's mansion for the return of Edwin Edwards in 1984.

Facing Edwin Edwards again, 1983

Treen and Edwards were known as fierce rivals. During the 1983 election campaign, Edwards remarked that Treen is so slow that "it takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes." Similarly, when asked for a scenario in which he could lose to Treen, Edwards replied nonchalantly, "If I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."

In 1983, Treen lost to Edwin Edwards, who secured the third of his four terms as governor. In that race, Treen won only a handful of parishes, including rural La Salle Parish in north Louisiana– scene of the Jena Six case– which supported him in all three of his gubernatorial bids. Treen received 586,643 (36.3 percent) to Edwards' 1,008,282 (62.4 percent). Another 1.3 percent was cast for minor candidates, one of whom was Robert Ross, who had also been Treen's primary rival in 1971. Treen polled some 104,000 fewer votes in losing in 1983 than he had in winning in 1979. Edwards polled more than 400,000 votes beyond what Louis Lambert had received four years earlier.

Billy J. Guin, a Shreveport Republican leader who managed Treen's northwest Louisiana campaign in 1972, said that Treen refused to show favoritism to anyone and went out of his way to demonstrate fairness to his political opponents. "It got to the point that he would not take phone calls from his longtime supporters because he did not want to tell them 'No'. This of course alienated his own supporters and contributed to his defeat in 1983," Guin said. Guin further blamed the legislature, still largely under the domination of Edwards even during the Treen years, for contributing to Treen's defeat.

In addition to Treen's own defeat, several Democratic allies of the Republican governor were unseated in the state Senate, including Dan Richey of Ferriday in Concordia Parish and Edward G. "Ned" Randolph, Jr., of Alexandria in Rapides Parish.

Failed nomination to the Fifth Circuit

After Treen's defeat for governor, President Reagan nominated him on July 22, 1987 for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans created by the death of veteran Judge Albert Tate, Jr.. However, the appointment was delayed by Democratic senators on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee[10] who objected to Treen's past membership in the States' Rights Party and also to other unsubstantiated allegations.[11] Treen withdrew his name from consideration in late April 1988, saying that he "could not afford to defer my professional and business activities" any longer, and that "some persons on the Democrat-controlled committee would just as soon see the vacancy go unfilled until after the election....in the hope that a Democrat will succeed to the White House."[11] However, the Senate wound up confirming Reagan's second choice, attorney John Malcolm Duhé, Jr., a New Iberia, later Lafayette, lawyer, who was the son-in-law of New Orleans Congressman F. Edward Hebert and former law partner of retired 3rd District Congressman Patrick T. Caffery. Another of Congressman Caffery's former law partners, Eugene Davis, was named to the federal bench in 1976 by President Gerald Ford and now sits on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where Duhé had also served.

Earlier, Treen had been proposed as a judicial nominee to President Nixon, but Nixon never sent the nomination to the Senate. Many had long believed that Treen's temperament and talents were more suited to that of a judgeship than as an administrator or a legislator.

Other political bids considered

Nonetheless, Treen maintained political ambitions even after his landslide defeat for re-election as governor. In 1984, he filed candidacy papers to oppose U.S. Senator Bennett Johnston, but quickly withdrew from the race, apparently when polls showed the popular Johnston unbeatable even in a potentially national Republican year. Treen also considered, but did not make, gubernatorial bids in 1991, 1995, and 2003.

Treen endorses Edwards

In 1991, despite their differences, Treen endorsed Edwards' bid for a fourth term because the Republican choice in the state's jungle primary fell on former Ku Klux Klansman and state Representative David Duke, by then a perennial candidate who was troublesome to the GOP and the business community. Though Duke claimed to have ended his ties to the KKK, there was lingering suspicion that he was still in contact with neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and other radical elements.

Ironically, Duke won his single victory for public office, a seat in the state House of Representatives, by narrowly defeating Treen's brother, John S. Treen, a home builder in Jefferson Parish. Many Republicans blamed John Treen's lackluster campaign in that race for Duke's emergence as a major player in the 1990 U.S. Senate race, when he made a noticeable bid against incumbent Johnston, and in the 1991 gubernatorial election, when Duke secured a general election berth.

Congressional comeback attempt fails by 1,812 votes

In 1999, Treen attempted a political comeback by running for the U.S. House. By this time, his home in Mandeville had been drawn into the 1st District. That seat was being vacated by Representative Bob Livingston, who left Congress in a sex scandal amid the House vote on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. This was the eighth election that Treen's name appeared on a Louisiana ballot for Congress.

In the special election with David Duke, also trying to score a comeback, and Republican state Representative David Vitter, Treen finished first with 36,719 votes (25 percent) to Vitter's 31,741 (22 percent) and Duke's 28,055 (19 percent). (Six other candidates, including New Orleans businessman Rob Couhig, shared the remaining 33 percent of the votes cast.) In the low-turnout special election runoff, Vitter defeated Treen, 61,661 ballots (51 percent) to 59,849 (49 percent), a margin of 1,812 votes. The race against Vitter was a bitter contest, with attacks flying back and forth. Many of Vitter's colleagues in the state legislature, including Republicans, supported Treen and charged that Vitter was difficult to work with as a legislator.

Duke ironically endorsed Treen over Vitter, perhaps to get back at Treen, hoping to defeat him, because Treen had supported Edwards against Duke in 1991. Vitter ultimately won the seat. In 2005, Vitter left the House to become the first Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Louisiana since Reconstruction.

Treen in retirement

At seventy-five, Treen declared that he would run for governor again in the 2003 election, but the party leadership coalesced behind young Bobby Jindal, who was born the year that Treen announced his first candidacy for governor. Treen withdrew from the pre-primary race and worked for Jindal's election. His last campaign consisted of his driving to candidate forums to present his views on state issues.

Ultimately, Jindal lost the general election to Democratic Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lafayette (who actually lost Lafayette Parish in the election). A year later, Jindal filled the House seat that Vitter vacated to become senator, the same seat that Treen had lost in his last campaign for elective office. Treen even discussed running for governor again in 2007 but never filed candidacy papers. In 2007, Jindal won the governor's election outright in the primary.

Treen's old rival and reluctant ally, Edwin Edwards, meanwhile, went to prison for racketeering connected with his fourth gubernatorial term, the one that Treen had reluctantly blessed in preference to his greater nemesis, David Duke. Treen had urged then President George W. Bush to pardon Edwards or to commute his sentence to the time already served.

There was also speculation that Edwards actually voted for Treen in the 1979 election because he preferred to face Treen again in 1983, rather than the other Democratic possibilities who were running for governor against Treen. Earl Long similarly often quietly voted for the "anti-Long" gubernatorial candidate himself to set up a potential new governor for failure. Earl Long would then run for governor again four years later against the "failed" (in Long's eyes) governor's stand-in. That was before Louisiana governors could succeed themselves in office.

In 1997, Treen became the first Republican inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.

Aborted 2008 Congressional bid

Treen announced on October 23, 2007, that he would be a candidate in the March 8 special election to succeed Bobby Jindal, who was elected governor. He cited his experience and political ties in Washington, D.C. as reasons for his candidacy.[12]

Treen had lost a race for this same seat in a 1999 special election to current U.S. Senator David Vitter. Four Republicans filed for the seat, and two faced an April 5 runoff election restricted to registered party members: State Representative Tim Burns and State Senator Steve Scalise. Scalise won the runoff and a month later defeated Democrat Gilda Reed, Ph.D., a favorite of organized labor and the party's constituent groups.

Treen withdrew from consideration on January 28.[13] Treen endorsed the reelection of Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in her 2008 race against Republican state Treasurer John Neely Kennedy, who resided in Mandeville, where Treen lived at the time.[14]

Death

Dr. David C. Treen, Jr., a 1984 graduate of Tulane Medical School, announced on October 29, 2009, that his father had died from complications from a respiratory illness at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie.[15] Condolences and kinds words poured in from around the state, typified by Southeastern Louisiana University president John L. Crain's tribute that Treen "was a true Louisiana icon, a Republican governor in Louisiana before it was cool."[16]

Treen's body lay in state at the Louisiana State Capitol following a memorial service at 11 a.m. on November 2, 2009. A second memorial service was held at St. Timothy United Methodist Church in Mandeville at 11 a.m. on November 3. The family requested memorials to, among several charities, the Methodist Children's Home in Mandeville.[2] The location of the graves of Dodi and Dave Treen were not revealed.

Treen was a distant relative of Robert Treen, co-inventor of the MIDI BrightEye.

Upon Treen's passing, Senator David Vitter said that Treen was "an enormously kind, decent human being. He was also a pioneer Republican — truly the father of the modern Louisiana Republican Party as our first Republican governor since Reconstruction. All Republicans serving in Louisiana today stand on his shoulders and benefit from his vision and leadership. . . . "[17] An earlier generation had considered the 1964 Republican gubernatorial candidate, Charlton Lyons, an oilman from Shreveport, as the father of the modern Louisiana GOP. Work undertaken by Lyons and the previous leadership had slowly paved the way for Treen's political triumphs.

Wendy Baldwin Vitter, wife of Senator Vitter, recalls that her parents, Dick and Bea Baldwin, were close friends of the Treens when she was growing up: "Governor Treen was always so nice and truly made a positive difference in the world — one of the most important things anyone can do is make a positive difference. He also had the nicest, best family in the world.".[17]

Republican State Chairman Roger F. Villere, Jr., of Metairie called the former governor "a courageous man who loved our country and our state. He fought the political establishment in the 1960s and 1970s when it was very difficult to elect a Republican in our state, and his career in political office was marked with integrity and fiscal discipline. It is important for younger voters to understand that Louisiana’s commitment to high ethical standards and the existence of a viable two-party system in our state are relatively new developments. Just a quarter century ago, neither existed in a significant way. Dave Treen laid the foundation to change all that, and for that, millions of Louisiana citizens owe him a profound debt of gratitude."[18]

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
Edwin Washington Edwards
Governor of Louisiana

David Conner Treen, Sr.
1980–1984

Succeeded by
Edwin Washington Edwards
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Patrick T. Caffery
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district

1973–1980
Succeeded by
Wilbert J. "Billy" Tauzin, Jr.

References

  1. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi. Retrieved November 1, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b ""Gov. David Conner Treen"". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theadvocate/obituary.aspx?n=gov-david-conner-treen&pid=135263008. Retrieved November 1, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Obituary of Robert Max Ross". Monroe News Star. http://www.thenewsstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/dclassifieds?Dato=20090917&Kategori=OBITUARY&Class=30&Type=CAT30200&Lopenr=90900159&Selected=3. Retrieved September 17, 2009. 
  4. ^ http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/la/orleans/obits/1/m-07.txt
  5. ^ Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000, ISBN 0-9700156-0-7, p. 65
  6. ^ Ron Gomez, pp. 65-66
  7. ^ Ron Gomez, p. 121
  8. ^ "”Ridicule sparked creationism law”". St. Petersburg Times, June 20, 1987. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19870620&id=tbgMAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0GADAAAAIBAJ&pg=4418,4944792. Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  9. ^ Rom Gomez, pp. 111-112
  10. ^ Ex-Louisiana Leader To Be Named a Judge, The New York Times, July 23, 1987
  11. ^ a b http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n10_v40/ai_6703047/pg_2?tag=artBody;col1
  12. ^ Treen to seek Jindal's 1st District House seat, October 23, 2007
  13. ^ [1] Campaign watch: Two quit race for Jindal seat in U.S. House, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 28, 2008
  14. ^ Mike Hasten, "Kennedy, Landrieu push for votes as Senate showdown approaches," Alexandria Daily Town Talk, November 4, 2008: http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20081104/NEWS01/311040037
  15. ^ Former Louisiana Gov. Dave Treen Dead At 81, October 29, 2009
  16. ^ ["Kind words abound for former governor"] in Daily Star (Hammond, Louisiana, 2009 October 30, p. 5A.
  17. ^ a b "DebbieGlover, “Treen honored as father of LA GOP”". Slidell Sentry, Slidell, Louisiana. http://www.slidellsentry.com/articles/2009/10/30/news/doc4aeaf1160b73e324384163.txt. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  18. ^ ""Statement from Chairman Roger Villere Following the Death of David Treen"". lagop.com. http://lagop.com/2009/10/statement-from-chairman-villere-following-the-death-of-david-treen/. Retrieved November 8, 2009. 
  • Grover Rees III, Dave Treen of Louisiana, (Baton Rouge: Moran Publishing, 1979).

External links


Template:Infobox Officeholder

David Conner Treen, Sr. (born July 16, 1928) is a retired attorney and politician from Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish – the first Republican governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana since Reconstruction. He is also the first Republican in modern times to have served in the U.S. House of Representatives from his state. A narrow victor in the gubernatorial general election held in the fall of 1979, Treen served as governor from 1980 to 1984. He lost his bid for reelection in 1983 to his long-time rival, Democrat Edwin Edwards. He served in Congress from 1973-1980.

Treen grew up as a Democrat, but became a Republican in 1962 when there were only about 10,000 registered Republicans in the state. Only a few other living Louisiana Republicans have been members of the party longer than Treen.

Contents

Early years and family

Treen was born in Baton Rouge to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Treen. He graduated from Fortier High School in New Orleans in 1945. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1948. While at Tulane, he was a brother of Kappa Sigma fraternity. In 1950, he graduated from Tulane Law School and was admitted to the bar. In 1951, he wed the former Dolores "Dodi" Brisbi (November 23, 1929  – March 19, 2005), a graduate of Newcomb College in New Orleans, whom he met while he was attending Tulane. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1952. Treen joined the law firm of Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles. He was also a vice president of the Simplex Manufacturing Corporation of New Orleans from 1952 to 1957. Treen's eldest grandson Jason Neville was one of the founding members of the Green Party of Louisiana, and ran for Louisiana State Senate in 2003.

States' Rights Party elector candidate, 1960

In 1960, Treen opposed the election of both Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy as president and ran as an elector for the Louisiana States' Rights Party, which supported Virginia Democratic U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. In addition to Treen, the States' Rights electors included former State Senator William M. Rainach of Claiborne Parish (a defeated 1959 gubernatorial candidate) and Plaquemines Parish Judge Leander H. Perez, who was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church because of his outspoken opposition to racial integration. Another elector was the "Radical Right" figure Kent Courtney of New Orleans and later Alexandria. Still another was the anti-Long former Congressman Jared Y. Sanders, Jr., of Baton Rouge, son of former Governor Jared Y. Sanders, Sr.

Treen made it clear that his states' rights group was not affiliated with the National States' Rights Party, a group considered neo-Nazi, and, in Treen's words, "a disgrace to the term 'states rights.'" Treen's elector slate polled 169,572 ballots (21 percent) statewide. Jefferson Parish, Treen's residence, which would later support him in most of his campaigns, rejected the States' Righters and instead supported Kennedy with 51.8 percent. Nixon and Lodge electors received 230,980 (28.6 percent) in Louisiana, and Kennedy-Johnson won the state's ten electoral votes with 407,339 (50.4 percent).

One of the Kennedy electors was popular State Attorney General Jack P.F. Gremillion, a part of the Earl Kemp Long organization, who would fall to scandal a dozen years later. Another was Edmund Reggie of Crowley, Louisiana, a confidant to future Governor Edwin Edwards and later a father-in-law of Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Republican for Congress, 1962, 1964, and 1968

Treen joined the Republican Party (GOP), then still small in Louisiana, in 1962 to run for the U.S. House of Representatives against Second District Democrat Hale Boggs (1914–1972), of New Orleans though Treen's father had urged him instead to challenge Boggs for renomination in the Democratic primary. Treen, as a young Democrat in 1956, had supported then Republican congressional nominee George R. Blue in Blue's failed race against Boggs that year. Blue later switched to the Democrats and won election to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1964.

As mentioned above, Treen joined the Republican Party at a time when it was all but nonexistent in Louisiana. Under the circumstances, Treen was able to raise only $11,000 for his 1962 and polled 27,791 votes (32.8 percent) to Boggs' 57,395 (67.2 percent). His 33 percent in 1962 was some 10 percentage points higher than the 1960 Republican candidate, Elliot Ross Buckley, then of New Orleans and a cousin of the author William F. Buckley, Jr., had polled in is race against Boggs.

In 1964, Treen again challenged Boggs and improved on his earlier showing, helped by the popularity in Louisiana of the presidential candidacy of U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona and by Boggs' vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even as most Southern Democrats voted against it. In that campaign, Treen polled 62,881 (45 percent) to Boggs' 77,009 (55 percent). Treen probably would have done even better, and possibly even defeated Boggs, had it not been for Lyndon Johnson narrowly carrying New Orleans.

In 1966, Treen did not run for Congress; the GOP fielded the attorney Leonard L. Limes of New Orleans, who was badly defeated by Boggs. So, Treen tried again in 1968 – his third and final campaign against Boggs, then the House majority whip. Boggs became majority leader in 1971 and was in line for Speaker. California Governor Ronald Reagan came into the district to campaign for Treen. This time, Treen almost defeated Boggs, receiving 77,633 votes (48.8 percent) to Boggs' 81,537 ballots (51.2 percent).

Treen attributed Boggs' victory to the supporters of former Alabama Governor George C. Wallace, who ran for president on the American Independent Party ticket. Treen claimed that Wallace supporters "became very cool to my candidacy. We couldn't really believe they would support Boggs, but several Democratic organizations did come out for Wallace and Boggs, and he received just enough Wallace votes to give him the election." Republican officials seemed convinced that fraudulent votes in some Orleans Parish precincts benefited Boggs and that Treen may have actually won the election. There were rumors of election officials who cast votes for people who did not show up at the polls and signed for them in the precinct registers. Treen did not contest the election because he believed that a challenge before the majority-Democratic House would be futile.

First gubernatorial campaign, 1971-1972

Primary opposition from Robert M. Ross

Treen was challenged in the only Republican gubernatorial closed primary ever held in Louisiana. His opponent was Robert Max Ross (born 1933), who grew up in Mangham in Richland Parish in north Louisiana. Ross graduated from Mangham High School in 1951 and procured a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force and was thereafter engaged in the Vietnam War. After his military service, Ross returned to Mangham, where he was involved in a number of small businesses, including a mobile home park. In the 1971 primary, Treen carried the support of the party leadership, including chairman Charles C. deGravelles of Lafayette. Treen received 92% of the vote (9,732 votes) to Ross's 8% (839 votes). Ross's only other electoral effort was in 1983, when he filed for the jungle primary for governor and polled a minuscule 7,625 ballots.

General election against Edwin Edwards

For the general election against Edwards held on February 1, 1972, Treen campaigned vigorously with billboards which said, "Make a Real Change," and television spots too, but he still lost. He polled 480,424 ballots (42.8 percent) to Edwards's 641,146 (57.2 percent) Treen carried twenty-seven parishes, mostly in the northern part of the state, with margins exceeding 60 percent in ten of those parishes. His tally was some 5 percentage points higher than what Charlton Lyons had scored in 1964 against John McKeithen. The confident and charismatic Edwards proclaimed that his administration would be an "Era of Excellence."

The Shreveport Times and its sister publication, the former Monroe Morning World (now Monroe News Star), analyzed the gubernatorial returns and concluded that Edwards received 202,055 black votes to only 10,709 for Treen. In that Edwards' statewide margin was 160,000, the survey concluded that blacks made the difference. The newspapers said that Treen received some 30,000 more votes from whites than did Edwards.

Election to Congress, 1972

After a decade of service on the Republican State Central Committee, Treen was named as the Louisiana Republican national committeeman for a two-year stint that began in 1972. His friend, James H. Boyce, a Baton Rouge industrialist, served as state party chairman while Treen was national committeeman. Over the years, Treen was the beneficiary of a group of dedicated party officials who worked on his behalf, such as National Committeeman Frank Spooner of Monroe and National Committeewoman Virginia Martinez of New Orleans. Martinez was also the treasurer of the national party conventions in 1980 and 1984.[1]

In the fall of 1972, based in part on the strength of his losing gubernatorial race, Treen ran for the open Third District House seat vacated by conservative Democrat Patrick T. Caffery of New Iberia, the seat of Iberia Parish in south Louisiana. He was a surprise winner, helped in part by the popularity of the Nixon-Agnew ticket, which carried sixty-three of the sixty-four (exception: West Feliciana Parish) in traditionally Democratic Louisiana. Treen defeated Democrat J. Louis Watkins, Jr., of Houma, 71,090 (54 percent) to 60,521 (46 percent). His home parish of Jefferson helped to push Treen over the top with a 73 percent share of the vote.

Treen served in the congressional seat from 1973 until 1980, when he resigned to become governor. As a congressman, he voted right-of-center and usually in accord with his party. He was considered a team player among House Republicans. In 1974, Treen won a comfortable reelection in a nationally Democratic year. He defeated State Representative Charles Grisbaum, Jr., of Jefferson Parish, who became a close friend. Grisbaum later switched parties, and when Treen became governor in 1980, Grisbaum served as one of Treen's floor leaders in the Louisiana House. In 1975, Treen was joined by his first Louisiana Republican colleague in the U.S. House when Henson Moore (born 1939) won the Sixth Congressional District seat based about Baton Rouge and the Florida Parishes. Moore won the seat formerly held by the Democrat John Rarick. In 1976, Treen polled 73.3 percent in a race against a nominal Democratic opponent while the Democrat Jimmy Carter carried Louisiana over Gerald R. Ford.

Election as governor, 1979

In 1979, Treen filed for the jungle primary for governor. He finished with 297,469 votes, almost the exact numbers posted by Charlton Lyons in 1964—284 fewer votes in fact than Lyons had in a two-candidate field. The second spot was hotly contested between Public Service Commissioner Louis Lambert of Ascension Parish (282,708 votes) and outgoing Lieutenant Governor James E. "Jimmy" Fitzmorris, Jr., of New Orleans (280,412 votes).

In the Treen-Lambert general election, the defeated Democratic candidates, including the disappointed Fitzmorris, House Speaker E. L. Henry of Jonesboro, and State Senators Paul Hardy of St. Martinville and Edgar G. "Sonny" Mouton, Jr., of Lafayette, all endorsed Treen. Their support helped him to defeat Lambert by 9,557 votes. Treen received 690,691 (50.3 percent) to Lambert's 681,134 (49.7 percent). He won only 22 parishes in victory, compared to 27 parishes in defeat in 1972. Only ten parishes that had voted for Treen in 1972 stuck with him in 1979. His strongest parishes in victory were all in south Louisiana: Plaquemines, Lafayette, St. Tammany, and Iberia. Minor candidates in the primary election included the colorful L.D. Knox of Winnsboro, who during the campaign legally changed his name to "None of the Above" Knox to highlight the cause of enhancing voter options in elections.

In the losing 1972 campaign, all of Treen's strong parishes were in north Louisiana. The election of 1979 seemed to indicate that Lafayette would in time replace Shreveport as the new growth center of the Louisiana GOP. Treen's victory came from Republican inroads made in the Edwards stronghold of Acadiana, particularly Lafayette, Iberia, Terrebonne, Acadia, and St. Martin parishes, where the GOP nominee overcame large deficits from 1972 to win in 1979. Treen received only 3.1 percent of the black vote in victory, nearly identical to his black support in 1972 in defeat.

As governor, Treen made full use of his power to appoint members of state boards and commissions. He named the Alexandria businessman and philanthropist Roy O. Martin, Jr., to the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry. He named John Henry Baker to the Louisiana Athletic Commission, since renamed the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission. Martin and Baker were both delegates to the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit.

Treen reappointed Shreveport attorney Robert G. Pugh to the Louisiana Board of Regents created by the Constitution of 1974, which Pugh had helped to write. Pugh, who was an advisor to Treen on numerous issues, also presented a plan to preserve coastal wetlands through a tax on energy, but the legislature declined to approve it.

Treen appointed Robert DeBlieux, the outgoing mayor of Natchitoches as the state's chief preservation officer. DeBleiux had been instrumental in obtaining designation of the Natchitoches Historic District in the middle 1970s.

Accomplishments as governor

A few hallmarks of the Treen administration were the creation of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, a statewide high school in Natchitoches for the gifted, the establishment of the Department of Environmental Quality, and the appointment of more minorities to state positions.

Two Treen campaign confidants, John H. Cade, Jr., of Alexandria and William "Billy" Nungesser of New Orleans, worked as unpaid advisors in the administration. Cade had also managed Treen's successful congressional races in 1972, 1974, 1976, and 1978. He directed the successful 1979 gubernatorial race as well as the disastrous 1983 reelection attempt. Cade was the Republican state chairman from 1976 to 1978, and Nungesser chaired the GOP central committee as well from 1988 to 1992.

Treen obtained legislative passage of his "Professional Improvement Program" (or PIPs) for public school teachers, but the program was dropped in the next Edwards administration. PIPs allowed instructors to obtain small pay increases for taking college-level courses and/or attending intensive workshops to improve teaching performance. Problems developed when numerous teachers signed up only for classes with few academic requirements and shunned the more rigorous courses. Such action thereby negated the purpose of Treen's reform. Treen faced a heavily Democratic legislature, which many felt was taking orders from Edwards, sitting on the sidelines and waiting to run again in 1983.

During his gubernatorial term, Treen developed a reputation for indecision and micromanagement of details which frustrated supporters and angered adversaries. His failure to push for strong conservative policies and governmental reforms disappointed many Republican allies, as did his refusal to oust from his administration allies of former governor and his past and future rival, Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Treen also had a sharp critic in the lieutenant governor, Democrat Robert "Bobby" Freeman, a former state representative from Plaquemine in Iberville Parish. Freeman, considered a liberal by Louisiana standards, vowed to exercise gubernatorial powers, as permitted under the state constitution, whenever Treen left the state, either on business or for pleasure. In 1983, Freeman supported the return of Edwin Edwards as governor. Freeman, meanwhile, easily won reelection in 1983 by defeating Edwards' first lieutenant governor, Democrat-turned-Republican Jimmy Fitzmorris.

Governor Treen presided over reasumption of use of the capital punishment in Louisiana. Two convicts were executed by electric chair during his term.

Treen's wife "Dodi" was the first lady during his tenure. She was known for her graciousness and hospitality. She went out of her way to prepare the governor's mansion for the return of Edwin Edwards in 1984.

Facing Edwin Edwards again, 1983

Treen and Edwards were known as fierce rivals. During the 1983 election campaign, Edwards remarked that Treen is so slow that "it takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes." Similarly, when asked for a scenario in which he could lose to Treen, Edwards replied nonchalantly, "If I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."

In 1983, Treen lost to Edwin Edwards, who secured the third of his four terms as governor. In that race, Treen won only a handful of parishes, including rural La Salle Parish in north Louisiana – scene of the Jena Six case – which supported him in all three of his gubernatorial bids. Treen received 586,643 (36.3 percent) to Edwards' 1,008,282 (62.4 percent). Another 1.3 percent was cast for minor candidates, one of whom was Robert Ross, who had also been Treen's primary rival in 1971. Treen polled some 104,000 fewer votes in losing in 1983 than he had in winning in 1979. Edwards polled more than 400,000 votes beyond what Louis Lambert had received four years earlier.

Billy J. Guin, a Shreveport Republican leader who managed Treen's northwest Louisiana campaign in 1972, said that Treen refused to show favoritism to anyone and went out of his way to demonstrate fairness to his political opponents. "It got to the point that he would not take phone calls from his longtime supporters because he did not want to tell them 'No'. This of course alienated his own supporters and contributed to his defeat in 1983," Guin said. Guin further blamed the legislature, still largely under the domination of Edwards even during the Treen years, for contributing to Treen's defeat.

In addition to Treen's own defeat, several Democratic allies of the Republican governor were unseated in the state Senate, including Dan Richey of Ferriday in Concordia Parish and Edward G. "Ned" Randolph, Jr., of Alexandria in Rapides Parish.

Failed nomination to the Fifth Circuit

After Treen's defeat for governor, President Reagan nominated him for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans created by the death of veteran Judge Albert Tate, Jr.. However, the appointment was delayed by Democratic senators on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee[2] who objected to Treen's past membership in the States' Rights Party and also to unsubstantiated other allegations.[3] Treen withdrew his name from consideration in late April 1988, saying that he "could not afford to defer my professional and business activities" any longer, and that "some persons on the Democrat-controlled committee would just as soon see the vacancy go unfilled until after the election....in the hope that a Democrat will succeed to the White House."[4] However, the Senate wound up confirming Reagan's second choice, attorney John Malcolm Duhé, Jr., a New Iberia, later Lafayette, lawyer, who was the son-in-law of New Orleans Congressman F. Edward Hebert and former law partner of retired 3rd District Congressman Patrick T. Caffery. Another of Congressman Caffery's former law partners, Eugene Davis, was named to the federal bench in 1976 by President Gerald Ford and now sits on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans alongside Duhé.

Earlier, Treen had been proposed as a judicial nominee to President Nixon, but Nixon never sent the nomination to the Senate. Many had long believed that Treen's temperament and talents were more suited to that of a judgeship than as an administrator or a legislator.

Other political bids considered

Nonetheless, Treen maintained political ambitions even after his landslide defeat for re-election as governor. In 1984, he filed candidacy papers to oppose U.S. Senator Bennett Johnston, but quickly withdrew from the race, apparently when polls showed the popular Johnston unbeatable even in a potentially national Republican year. Treen also considered, but did not make, gubernatorial bids in 1991, 1995, and 2003.

Treen endorses Edwards

In 1991, despite their differences, Treen endorsed Edwards' bid for a fourth term because the Republican choice in the state's jungle primary fell on former Ku Klux Klansman and state Representative David Duke, by then a perennial candidate who was troublesome to the GOP and the business community. Though Duke claimed to have ended his ties to the KKK, there was lingering suspicion that he was still in contact with neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and other radical elements.

Ironically, Duke won his single victory for public office, a seat in the state House of Representatives, by defeating Treen's brother, John, a longtime Jefferson Parish Republican operative. Many Republicans blamed John Treen's lackluster campaign in that race for Duke's emergence as a major player in the 1990 U.S. Senate race, when he made a strong bid against incumbent Johnston, and in the 1991 gubernatorial election, when Duke stunned the political community by winning a runoff berth.

Comeback attempt fails by 1,812 votes

In 1999, Treen attempted a political comeback by running for the U.S. House. By this time, his home in Mandeville had been drawn into the 1st District. That seat was being vacated by Representative Bob Livingston, who left Congress in a sex scandal amid the House vote on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. This was the eighth election that Treen's name appeared on a Louisiana ballot for Congress.

In the special election with David Duke, also trying to score a comeback, and Republican state Representative David Vitter, Treen finished first with 36,719 votes (25 percent) to Vitter's 31,741 (22 percent) and Duke's 28,055 (19 percent). (Six other candidates, including New Orleans businessman Rob Couhig, shared the remaining 33 percent of the votes cast.) In the low-turnout special election runoff, Vitter defeated Treen, 61,661 ballots (51 percent) to 59,849 (49 percent), a margin of 1,812 votes. The race against Vitter was a bitter contest, with attacks flying back and forth. Many of Vitter's colleagues in the state legislature, including Republicans, supported Treen and charged that Vitter was difficult to work with as a legislator.

Duke ironically endorsed Treen over Vitter, perhaps to get back at Treen, hoping to defeat him, because Treen had supported Edwards against Duke in 1991. Vitter ultimately won the seat. In 2005, Vitter left the House to become the first Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Louisiana since Reconstruction.

Treen in retirement

At seventy-five, Treen declared that he would run for governor again in the 2003 election, but the party leadership coalesced behind young Bobby Jindal, who was born the year that Treen announced his first candidacy for governor. Treen withdrew from the pre-primary race and worked for Jindal's election. His last campaign consisted of his driving to candidate forums to present his views on state issues.

Ultimately, Jindal lost the general election to Democratic Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lafayette (who actually lost Lafayette Parish in the election). A year later, Jindal filled the House seat that Vitter vacated to become senator, the same seat that Treen had lost in his last campaign for elective office. Treen even discussed running for governor again in 2007 but never filed candidacy papers. In 2007, Jindal won the governor's election outright in the primary.

Treen's old rival and reluctant ally, Edwin Edwards, meanwhile, went to prison for racketeering connected with his fourth gubernatorial term, the one that Treen had reluctantly blessed in preference to his greater nemesis, David Duke. Treen has urged President George W. Bush to pardon Edwards or to commute his sentence to the time already served.

There has also been speculation that Edwards actually voted for Treen in the 1979 election because he preferred to face Treen again in 1983, rather than the other Democratic possibilities who were running for governor against Treen. Earl Long similarly often quietly voted for the "anti-Long" gubernatorial candidate himself to set up a potential new governor for failure. Earl Long would then run for governor again four years later against the "failed" (in Long's eyes) governor's stand-in. That was before Louisiana governors could succeed themselves in office.

There are rumors that, with David Vitter's involvement in the Deborah Jeane Palfrey sex scandal, Governor Blanco would appoint Treen to the senate seat if Vitter retires and vacates the seat. Such a decision would now fall to Blanco's successor, Jindal.

Treen has been a widower since the death of his wife Dodi in 2005. He has three children, including Dr. David C. Treen, Jr., a 1984 graduate of the Tulane Medical School who practices in Jefferson Parish.

Treen is a distant relative of Robert Treen, co-inventor of the MIDI BrightEye.

In 1997, Treen was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.

Aborted 2008 Congressional bid

Treen announced on October 23, 2007, that he would be a candidate in the March 8 special election to succeed Bobby Jindal, who was elected governor. He cited his experience and political ties in Washington, D.C. as reasons for his candidacy.[5]

Treen lost a race for this same seat in a 1999 special election to current U.S. Senator David Vitter. Four Republicans filed for the seat, and two faced an April 5 runoff election restricted to registered party members: State Representative Tim Burns and State Senator Steve Scalise. Scalise won the runoff and a month later defeated Democrat Gilda Reed, Ph.D., a favorite of organized labor and the party's constituent groups.

Treen withdrew from consideration on January 28.[6] Treen endorsed the reelection of Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in her 2008 race against Republican state Treasurer John N. Kennedy, who like Treen resides in Mandeville.[7]

See also

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #ccccff;" | Political offices

|- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Edwin Washington Edwards (D) |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of Louisiana David C. Treen (R)
1980–1984
|width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Edwin Washington Edwards (D) |- |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Patrick T. Caffery |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district

1973–1980 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Wilbert J. "Billy" Tauzin, Jr. |- Template:End box

Template:Navbox with collapsible sections

References

  • Grover Rees III, Dave Treen of Louisiana, (Baton Rouge: Moran Publishing, 1979).

External links


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