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Rodney Alexander


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th district
Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 2003
Preceded by John Cooksey

Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 13th district
In office
1988 – 2002
Preceded by Mike Tinnerello
Succeeded by Jim Fannin

Jackson Parish Police Juror
In office
1972 – 1988

Born December 5, 1946 (1946-12-05) (age 63)
Louisiana Bienville
Bienville Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political party Democratic (1988–2004)
Republican (2004– present)
Spouse(s) Nancy Sutton Alexander
Children Three children, including

Rodney Earl Alexander

Residence United States Quitman
Jackson Parish, Louisiana
Alma mater Jonesboro-Hodge High School

Louisiana Tech University (non-graduate)
University of Louisiana - Monroe

Occupation Insurance agent
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1965-1971
Unit Reserves

Rodney McKinnie Alexander (born December 5, 1946) is an American politician currently affiliated with the Republican Party. He has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 2003. He represents the 5th District of Louisiana, which covers twenty-two parishes in roughly the northeast quadrant of the state. During the 110th Congress, Alexander had made only one appearance on the chamber floor.[1]

Contents

Biography

Alexander was born in the village of Bienville in Bienville Parish to the former Mary Crawford and James Earl Alexander.[2] In 1964, he graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School in Jonesboro in Jackson Parish. He then enrolled at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston in Lincoln Parish but did not graduate. He was in the United States Air Force Reserve from 1965 to 1971.[3]

In 1969, Alexander married the former Nancy Sutton (born 1948). They are the parents of three, including Rodney Earl Alexander (born 1972) and the grandparents of four. Alexander was an insurance agent prior to entering Congress. He also owned a construction company from 1964 to 1981. He was a member of the Jackson Parish Police Jury (equivalent to county commission in other states) from 1972 to 1988. In 1976, while on the police jury, the then Democrat Alexander said that he voted for Republican Gerald R. Ford, Jr., for president, rather than the Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter. Alexander said that he approved of Ford's handling of his presidential duties though at the time he opposed the pardon granted to former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. Later, Alexander said he came to understand why Ford pardoned Nixon, and he changed his own mind about the merits of the pardon.

Alexander left the police jury to represent District 13 in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1988 until his election to Congress.

Party-switching for the 2004 Election

Alexander had been elected in 2002 as a Democrat, with the strong support of the state's two Democratic senators, Mary Landrieu and John Breaux, having narrowly defeated Republican challenger Lee Fletcher of Monroe. He was a fairly conservative Democrat, like the people in his mostly rural district. He seriously considered switching parties soon after John Kerry won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, but initially decided against it. Breaux reportedly told Alexander that he would find and raise money for a Democrat to run against him if he switched.

However, two days after filing for reelection as a Democrat, Alexander filed again as a Republican with only minutes to go before the deadline. The Republicans promised him a seat on the Appropriations Committee if he switched. Alexander's entire DC staff—Brian Smoot, Peter Conroy, Nell Wilson, Jeff Champagne, Traci Vincent and Ivana Alexander (no relations) resigned their positions and turned in their keys Monday morning, after trashing the office. This led to an exchange between Mrs. Alexander and three of the aides—Nell Wilson, Brian Smoot and Traci Vincent—that, as reported in Roll Call, ended with Mrs. Alexander shouting expletives in the hall and flipping the aides the "bird."

The last-minute switch denied the Democrats time to find a credible replacement candidate, though Alexander had been heavily favored for a second term in any case.

Reaction from Democrats was, not surprisingly, very hostile. Breaux, who was retiring in 2005, called Alexander "a confused politician who has placed loyalty at the very bottom of his priorities." Landrieu said that Alexander's move was the most "cowardly" she'd ever seen in her career. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer denounced the switch as "an act of perfidy." Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Bob Matsui called for Alexander to return all the money Democrats donated to him prior to his switch; Alexander eventually complied. All of Alexander's Washington staffers resigned, as did his campaign consultants. A few days later, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers released a letter from Alexander in which he slammed Republican policies as anti-labor.[4]

Republicans, by contrast, were overjoyed. President George W. Bush immediately called Alexander to congratulate him; Alexander had already endorsed Bush prior to switching parties. David Vitter, who was running for Breaux' Senate seat, also endorsed him.

On August 13, a Louisiana voter filed suit to disqualify Alexander, citing a section of Louisiana election code that appeared to prohibit a candidate from changing his or her party affiliation after initially qualifying.[5] On August 23, a state judge ordered filing reopened in Alexander's district, and required Alexander to refile if he wanted to run again. However, a week later, a state appeals court threw out that ruling, saying the lower court went too far. This decision all but assured Alexander's reelection.

He easily defeated two candidates, including another Democrat-turned-Republican, former State Representative Jock Scott. At first, Scott had the support of national Republican leaders. When Alexander changed parties, the GOP leadership switched allegiance to Alexander and urged Scott to withdraw. Scott, however, continued to run but fared poorly in the election.

At first, Alexander's voting record was not typical of former Democrats who switched to the Republicans. For example, his American Conservative Union rating in 2004 was 50, only two points above his 2003 rating. In 2005, however, he joined the conservative Republican Study Committee, and his voting record veered sharply to the right; his ACU rating that year was 92.

2006 House Page scandal

It was revealed on September 29, 2006, that the Republican House Leadership was aware that Rep. Rodney Alexander's page received inappropriate e-mails from former Representative Mark Foley of Florida.[6] According to Alexander, he did not pursue the page matter because "his parents said they didn't want me to do anything."

2006 Election

On November 7, 2006, Alexander won reelection with 68 percent of the vote over Democratic candidate Gloria Williams Hearn, a retired educator from Pineville.

Committee assignments

Louisiana Political Hall of Fame

On January 30, 2010, Alexander, along with the late Charlton Lyons of Shreveport and former State Senator Randy Ewing, also of Jackson Parish, will be inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[7]

See also

Footnotes

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Cooksey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th congressional district

2003 – present
Incumbent
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Tinnerello
Louisiana State Representative from Jackson Parish

Rodney McKinnie Alexander
1988–2002

Succeeded by
James R. Fannin







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