E. L. Henry

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Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry
Louisiana State Representative from District 13 (Jackson, Bienville, and Ouachita parishes)
In office
1968–1980
Preceded by Marvin T. Culpepper
John Len Lacy
Succeeded by Jamie Fair
Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives (from Jackson Parish)
In office
1972–1980
Preceded by John Sidney Garrett
Succeeded by John Hainkel
Louisiana Commissioner of Administration
In office
1980–1984
Preceded by Charles E. Roemer, II
Personal details
Born (1936-02-10) February 10, 1936 (age 82)
Jonesboro, Jackson Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Francis S. Henry
Occupation Attorney; Lobbyist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Edgerton L. Henry, known as "Bubba" Henry (born February 10, 1936), is a Baton Rouge attorney, lobbyist, and partner of the law firm Adams and Reese. He served as a Democrat in the House of Representatives from 1968 to 1980. Part of the reform group known as the "Young Turks", he was Speaker from 1972 to 1980. Henry was Governor Edwin Washington Edwards's choice for Speaker.

Some conservatives still questioned Henry's commitment to reform. In 1979, Henry finished in a weak fifth place in the nonpartisan blanket primary in his bid to succeed Edwards as governor. Thereafter, he was appointed as commissioner of administration by the new governor, Republican David C. Treen, then of Jefferson Parish. After Treen left office, Henry retired from elective and appointive office to concentrate on his law practice and lobbying activities. He joined Adams and Reese in 1987. Among his colleagues at Adams and Reese is former Louisiana Insurance Commissioner J. Robert Wooley.[1] One of Henry's major clients is State Farm Insurance. He also lobbies on behalf of the payday lending industry in Louisiana as a representative of the Community Financial Services Association of America.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in 1936 in Jonesboro, Henry attended local segregated schools. He graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957 from Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He earned his law degree from the Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

Career[edit]

Henry soon entered politics, joining the Democratic Party. He won his first legislative seat on February 6, 1968, with a solid victory to represent Jackson Parish over his Republican opponent, personal friend and businessman Bob Reese of Jonesboro. The House seat had been vacated by Marvin T. Culpepper, a one-term member who was an engineer and farmer from Jonesboro.[2] Reese later lived in Natchitoches Parish, where he ran unsuccessfully in 1972 for the state senate against Democrat Paul L. Foshee.[3]

In his first term in the legislature, Henry, at age thirty-two, led a group of younger members who advocated reforms. Called the "Young Turks," the members urged spending cuts, a decrease in the number of state employees, and reducing the amount of bonded indebtedness. Henry stopped lobbyists from going onto the House floor, and he opened up the committee process. Overall, the priorities of the legislature are usually tied to those of the institutionally "strong" governor.

In addition to Henry, the "Young Turks" included Representative Robert G. "Bob" Jones of Lake Charles, son of former Governor Sam Houston Jones. Jones would later become a state senator and run unsuccessfully for governor in 1975. Other "Young Turks" who participated in this session were the late John Hainkel, Jr., Ben Bagert, and Thomas Casey, all of New Orleans, P.J. Mills of Shreveport, R. W. "Buzzy" Graham of Alexandria, and Donald Wayne "Don" Williamson of Vivian in north Caddo Parish.

Henry won the Speaker's position after John Sidney Garrett of Haynesville in northern Claiborne Parish was defeated in the primary by Louise B. Johnson. Representative Frank Fulco of Shreveport was also attempting to win commitments for Speaker, but he was unseated in the general election by Republican Arthur W. "Art" Sour, Jr.

Major legislative defeat[edit]

Henry's most conspicuous defeat as Speaker of the House occurred in 1976, when the Equal Rights Amendment was rejected by the House Civil Law Committee. At the national level, 35 of the required 38 states had ratified the ERA, and advocates of the amendment were targeting Louisiana, Florida, and Illinois as the final three. Social conservative groups opposed the amendment, arguing that it would federalize family law and pre-empt the states in areas dealing with the family.

Henry had placed members on the Civil Law Committee who he believed made up a majority of ERA backers . One of those was his future law partner Sam LeBlanc III, a Metairie (Jefferson Parish) Democrat. LeBlanc, who served in the legislature from 1972–1980, was the committee chairman. Previously, the committee had given ERA an "unfavorable" report, which had rendered it nearly impossible for the measure to be passed on the House floor. There were believed to have been nine ERA backers on the committee, based either on their past votes in the previous legislative session or on how the lawmaker had stood on ERA in the 1975 election campaign. There were five known ERA opponents on the panel, including Daniel Wesley "Dan" Richey, a young Ferriday (Concordia Parish) Democrat. Richey later became a Republican political activist in Baton Rouge. Supporters expected that the ERA would receive a "fair" hearing and a "favorable" report to the full House.

The ERA generated nearly as much attention from legislators as the simultaneous consideration of the right-to-work law, which was passed. Supporters of the amendment thought that Speaker Henry had found a way to get the amendment out of the previously "obstructionist" committee.[citation needed] Meanwhile, a small group of social conservatives, unknown to Henry or LeBlanc, were giving speeches in parts of the state where they sought to switch the votes of four Democratic representatives on the committee. These lawmakers were John W. "Jock" Scott of Alexandria, Michael F. "Mike" Thompson of Lafayette, Lane A. Carson of New Orleans, and A. J. McNamara of Metairie. It was believed that the Pentecostal Church, which opposed ERA and was influential in Rapides Parish, convinced Scott to reverse his position. Pro-life and anti-feminist groups in Lafayette and New Orleans persuaded Thompson to oppose the ERA, and conservative women in Jefferson Parish pleaded with McNamara to switch his vote.[citation needed] McNamara was later appointed by President Ronald W. Reagan as a U.S. district judge.

Gubernatorial politics[edit]

Henry represented District 13, which included his native Jonesboro, seat of Jackson Parish. In 1972, Henry campaigned for Edwin Edwards, who faced an unusually strong Republican gubernatorial opponent in David Treen. Jackson Parish reelected Henry to the legislature, but it supported Treen for governor in the general election held on February 1 of that year. Treen may have been helped by President Richard M. Nixon's large electoral success in re-election.

In 1979 Henry ran in the blanket primary for the governorship. He received 135,769 votes (9.9 percent), not enough to make the run-off. His manager was Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III of Bossier Parish, who later was elected as governor himself. Henry and Roemer had become friends when both were members of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1973. Henry was a chairman of the convention and was highly regarded for his ability to bring about consensus on divisive issues.[citation needed]

In 1979, after Henry lost out in the primary, he endorsed Republican Treen for re-election as governor. That year Jackson Parish voted for Treen's Democratic gubernatorial challenger, Louis J. Lambert, Jr., a public service commissioner from Ascension Parish.

Commissioner of Administration[edit]

In 1980, as his legislative term ended, Henry was appointed by Governor Treen as his commissioner of administration, a high position in state government. In this position, Henry pushed to fruition the plans and blueprints for the State Capitol Complex and the consolidation of state offices within the Capitol environs.

In 1982, Commissioner Henry told the Democratic State Central Committee that former Governor Edwards had created a "smoke screen ... to divert attention from his own 'sweetheart deals' for his political friends," a reference to controversy which arose in the financing of a new baseball stadium for the University of Louisiana at Monroe.[4] Though still a Democrat, as a Treen appointee Henry worked for the incumben governor's re-election but he was defeated.

In 2003, he lent support to an unsuccessful effort by a group attempting to convince President George W. Bush to release former governor Edwin Edwards from prison. "He has been ruined. There is no purpose to be served by his sitting in prison for 10 years," said the former Louisiana Speaker.[citation needed] Edwards was convicted in May 2000 on conspiracy, racketeering, and money-laundering charges following a four-month trial.

Civic activities and personal life[edit]

Henry's affiliations include the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Public Affairs Research Council, and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

Henry and his wife, Frances S. Henry (born April 30, 1937), attend the University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Here Henry has taught the young adults Sunday school class for many years. Mrs. Henry is vice chairman of the Louisiana Board of Regents, which directs the state's colleges and universities, except for LSU.

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • In 1974, Henry was honored by President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., who cited his "exemplary leadership," particularly in reference to his chairmanship of the Louisiana constitutional convention.
  • In the fall of 2001, Louisiana Life magazine named Henry one of twenty persons who have "most influenced public policy in Louisiana during the past twenty years."
  • On Henry's 70th birthday in 2006, the state House expressed "enduring gratitude" for his "outstanding contributions to the state."[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Former Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance - J. Robert Wooley Joins Adams and Reese, February 20, 2006". adamsandreese.com. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Culpepper Family Tree". gen.culpepper.com. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election returns, February 6, 1968, and February 1, 1972
  4. ^ "Bubba Henry Says Edwards Creating a 'Smoke Screen'", Minden Press-Herald, March 25, 1982, p. 1
  5. ^ Avoyelles Today, 4 January 2012
  6. ^ "La. Political Hall inducts former Pineville mayor, 5 others". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, January 29, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2012. [permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Marvin T. Culpepper (D)
John Len Lacy (D)
Louisiana State Representative from District 13 (Jackson, Bienville and part of Ouachita parishes)

Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry (D)
1968–1980

Succeeded by
Jamie Fair (D)
Preceded by
John Sidney Garrett (D)
Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives

Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry (D)
1972–1980

Succeeded by
John Joseph Hainkel, Jr. (D), later (R)