|Clay John Schexnayder|
Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives
|Assumed office |
January 13, 2020
|Preceded by||Taylor Barras|
Louisiana State Representative for District 81 (Ascension, Livingston, St. James, and St. John the Baptist parishes)
|Assumed office |
|Preceded by||John LaBruzzo (casualty of redistricting)|
|Born||February 25, 1969|
|Spouse(s)||Phoebe Keller Schexnayder|
|Residence||Sorrento in Ascension Parish, Louisiana|
Clay John Schexnayder (born February 25, 1969) is a businessman from Sorrento in Ascension Parish in south Louisiana, who is a Moderate Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. On January 13, 2020, he was elected 60 to 45 as the new House Speaker to succeed the more conservative Taylor Barras of New Iberia, who was term-limited.
Schexnayder's District 81 encompasses that section of Livingston Parish south of Interstate 12, the southeastern portion of Ascension Parish, and precincts on the east bank of the Mississippi River in St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes between Gramercy and Reserve, Louisiana.
Schexnayder (pronounced SHECKS NIGH DER) is the son of Perry P. Schexnayder and the former Dorothy Ann Demars (1937-2009). His mother was a star basketball player when French Settlement High School, located in the village of French Settlement in Livingston Parish, won the state championships in 1954, 1955, and 1956. His paternal grandfather, Harold "Pocahontas" Schexnayder, worked years earlier in the district as a game warden with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
In 1989, Shexnayder graduated from French Settlement High School. In 1991, he graduated from the Allen Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, at which he studied basic automotive training and computerization and procured an "Automotive Service Excellence" certificate. He is also a former race car driver, having participated in competition on the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas circuit. A former employee of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Schenayder has since 1998 operated Car Craft Automotive in Sorrento in in Ascension Parish. He also has experience in law enforcement as a part-time Ascension Parish sheriff's deputy, with service in the mounted division. He provided patrol duty and managed traffic during local events and emergencies.
Schexnayder and his wife, the former Phoebe Keller, have, as of 2012, four children, a daughter-in-law, and three grandsons, including twins who were born on July 4, 2011.
House District 81 opened to competition when the strongly conservative Republican incumbent John LaBruzzo in Jefferson Parish was shifted through redistricting into District 94. In the general election held on November 19, 2011, the more moderate Schexnayder defeated the Democrat Kevin Hull, 5,549 (64 percent) to 3,116 (36 percent). In the campaign, Schexnayder promised if elected to seek more jobs to the state, to strengthen the local and state educational systems, and to enhance infrastructure to manage long-term growth and traffic flow. Schexnayder carried the support of Governor Bobby Jindal and the outgoing Republican Representative Mert Smiley in District 89, who was instead narrowly elected as the Ascension Parish assessor.The TEA Party movement did not endorse Schexnayder; instead it called him a "tax-and-spend Republican."
Election as Speaker
To win the Speaker's office, Schexnayder won the support of thirty-seven Democrats and Independents and twenty-three Moderate Republicans. His more conservative opponent, Sherman Mack, backed by conservatives, polled 45 votes. Mack was the choice of the Republican caucus and had been expected to win the race for Speaker. Though he is a Moderate Republican, Schexnayder said that he will support tort reform, which was blocked in the previous legislative sessions, to the consternation to conservative lawmakers. The twenty-three Republicans who joined with thirty-five Democrats and two Independents to elect Schexnayder are known as the Louisiana Republican Fraud Squad.
Schexnayder's assembled coalition is similar to that in Texas from 2009 to 2019, when Moderate Republican Joe Straus of San Antonio repeatedly won the Speakership based on the support of Democrats and several dozen Moderate Republicans. Stauss, a devotee of the late U.S. Senator John Tower, blocked conservatives at nearly every turn in the Texas House..
- Schexnayder Announces Candidacy. clayschexnayder.com. Retrieved on September 2, 2012.
- Dorothy Ann Demars Schexnayder. Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, November 30, 2009. Retrieved on May 16, 2012.
- Louisiana general election returns, November 19, 2012. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on May 16, 2012.
- Tea Party of Louisiana, October 8, 2011. louisianaconservative.com. Retrieved on May 16, 2012.
- Sam Karlin. Clay Schexnayder wins Louisiana House Speaker after push from Democrats. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on January 13, 2020.