Charles DeWitt

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Charles Woodrow
"Charlie" DeWitt, Jr.​


Louisiana State Representative
for District 25 (Rapides
and Vernon parishes)​
In office
March 1980​ – January 2008​
Preceded by Wilbur Dyer​
Succeeded by Chris Roy, Jr.

Speaker of the
Louisiana House of Representatives​
In office
2000​ – 2004​
Preceded by Huntington "Hunt" Downer​
Succeeded by Joe Salter​

Born February 4, 1947​
Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA​
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Patricia "Dale" Riddick DeWitt​
Children Dr. Chance DeWitt​

Renée DeWitt Verma​

Alma mater Bolton High School (Alexandria)​
Occupation Farmer; Rancher​
Religion Roman Catholic

Charles Woodrow DeWitt, Jr., known as Charlie DeWitt (born February 4, 1947), is a Democratic former Louisiana state representative from 1980 to 2008 for District 25 (Rapides and Vernon parishes). He was the House Speaker from 2000 to 2004 during the second term of Republican Governor Murphy James "Mike" Foster, Jr. In Louisiana, the governor plays a major role in selecting the House Speaker despite the separation of legislative and executive powers.​ ​

Background

DeWitt was born to Charles DeWitt, Sr. (1915-1995), and the former Barbara Vanlangendonck (1916-2002), who are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Ball, north of Pineville.[1] DeWitt graduated from Bolton High School in his native Alexandria in 1965. One of his classmates was another future Louisiana state legislator, Jock Scott, of District 27. The two were also House colleagues from 1980 to 1988, but Scott switched to the GOP in 1985.​

DeWitt is married to the former Patricia "Dale" Riddick. A farm-ranch operative, DeWitt is a member of the Cattleman's Association and the coproducer of a rodeo company. The DeWitts mailing address is in rural Lecompte in southern Rapides Parish.​ ​ Early in 2007, DeWitt was diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent treatment. The disease was found in an examination conducted by his son, the Alexandria physician Chance DeWitt. Both of DeWitt's parents died of cancer. His cancer was detected early in the cycle, and he recovered.

Career

Prior to his legislative service, DeWitt was from 1972 to 1980 a member of the Rapides Parish Police Jury, the parish's governing board, akin to the county commission in most other states. He was the jury vice president from 1976 to 1978, having served under the president, L. B. Henry of Pineville. He is a member of the Amicus Club and serves on the advisory board of the Alexandria Area Child Protection Agency. He is a directorof the Farm Bureau. He was chairman of the Heart Fund and a former member of the Rapides Parish Stormwater Management and Drainage District.

DeWitt was term-limited from seeking a seventh term in the state House in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007. His successor was fellow Democrat Christopher Roy, Jr., brother of former Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy. Chris Roy defeated Republican Lance Maxwell in the November 17 general election. Maxwell had led in the primary with 6,226 votes (41 percent) to Roy's 5,282 ballots (35 percent). A third candidate, former Alexandria Police Chief Glen Beard, a Democrat, trailed with 3,538 votes (24 percent).​[2] ​ DeWitt stunned the Louisiana political scene in October 2007, when he endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, the outright winner of the primary election. DeWitt like Jindal is a Roman Catholic.​

In 2004, DeWitt was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[3]

In 2014, DeWitt came out of political retirement to run for Alexandria city marshal, a position in Wards 1, 2, and 8 of Rapides Parish. He entered into a runoff election with incumbent Terence Grines, a fellow Democrat. Other primary candidates were Edward Butler Jr., Steve Edwards, and Beau Meynard, the only Republican in the five-man field.[4][5]In the second round of balloting, ​DeWitt narrowly lost the marshal's race to Grimes, 8,566 votes (48.3 percent) to 9,172 (51.7 percent).​[6] The radio commentator Moon Griffon referred to DeWitt's attempted comeback as another defeat for the "Old Guard" of Louisiana politics.[7]​ ​

References

  1. Barbara Vanlangendonck DeWitt. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 18, 2020.
  2. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary election returns, October 20, 2007.
  3. Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame. cityofwinnfield.com. Retrieved on July 18, 20209.
  4. Richard P. Sharkey (August 22, 2014). Late qualifiers spice up races in Rapides Paris. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on July 18, 2020.
  5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns (Rapides Parish), November 4, 2014.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns (Rapides Parish), December 6, 2014.
  7. The Moon Griffon Show, December 8, 2014.

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