David C. Treen
|David Conner "Dave" Treen|
January 3, 1973 – March 12, 1984
|Preceded by||Edwin Edwards|
|Succeeded by||Edwin Edwards|
United States Representative for Louisiana's 3rd congressional district
|Preceded by||Patrick T. Caffery|
|Succeeded by||William J. "Billy" Tauzin|
|Born|| July 16, 1928|
Baton Rouge Louisiana
|Died|| October 29, 2009 (aged 81)|
Metairie, Jefferson Parish
|Resting place||Saint Timothy United Methodist Church Memorial Garden in Mandeville, Louisiana|
|Political party|| Republican (1962–2009) |
Democratic (until 1962)
Louisiana States' Rights Party (1960)
|Spouse(s)||Dolores Brisbi "Dodi" Treen (married 1951–2005, her death)|
|Relations||John Treen (brother)|
|Children|| Jennifer Treen Neville|
Dr. David C. Treen, Jr.
Cynthia Treen Lunceford
|Alma mater|| Tulane University|
Tulane School of Law
David Conner Treen, Sr., usually known as Dave Treen (July 16, 1928 – October 29, 2009), was the first Republican since Reconstruction to represent his native Louisiana in the United States House of Representatives and the first member of the GOP since 1876 to serve as governor of his state. Treen was a congressman for Louisiana's Third Congressional District from 1973 to 1980 and governor for a single term from 1980 to 1984.
A native of the capital city of Baton Rouge, Treen was a law graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans. He served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Originally a Democrat, he switched to the States' Rights Party in 1960 and was a losing presidential elector candidate that year, along with former State Senator William Rainach of Claiborne Parish, when U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy easily won the plurality in Louisiana over Richard Nixon. In 1962, 1964, and 1968, Treen ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for his state's Second Congressional District against the powerful Democrat Hale Boggs. In the 1968 campaign, he nearly unseated Boggs, who four years later perished in a place crash while on a campaign stop in Alaska.
In 1972, Treen carried his party's gubernatorial banner, having overwhelmingly defeated Robert Max Ross of Richland Parish in a closed primary for the Republican nomination. A division among Treen supporters in the general election was avoided when Hall M. Lyons, son of Republican patriarch Charlton Lyons of Shreveport, withdrew from the contest as the candidate of George Wallace's then American Independent Party. Treen then polled 43 percent of the general election ballots, a record at that time for a GOP candidate in Louisiana, against the Democrat U.S. Representative Edwin Edwards of Crowley in Acadia Parish in south Louisiana.
In 1979, he narrowly won the gubernatorial race against Democrat Louis Lambert, then a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Treen was unseated in 1983 after a single term by Edwards, who staged any easy comeback against his former rival, whom he had accused of having become a Republican because Treen could not win a Democratic nomination in Louisiana.
In 1991, Treen endorsed Edwards for a fourth term when the Democrat entered a gubernatorial runoff with then State Representative David Duke, then of Jefferson Parish, a Republican former member of the Ku Klux Klan who ran without the support of the party hierarchy. Oddly, Duke had been elected to the legislature in 1989 by defeating Treen's brother, John Treen. In 1999, Treen tried to return to Congress to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Bob Livingston, but he was narrowly defeated by fellow Republican David Vitter, now his state's junior U.S. senator. David Duke also ran in the 1999 congressional race and endorsed Treen in the runoff with Vitter, some thought in what was a move to irritate Treen.
In 2008, Treen angered his party's grassroots when he endorsed the reelection of Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of New Orleans. Landrieu defeated state Treasurer John Neely Kennedy to win her third term in the Senate. Some intraparty critics at the time reportedly sent RINO Treen "change of registration" forms. Kennedy rebounded eight years later in 2016 won the state's other Senate seat.
In 1979, Grover Rees, III, a Lafayette attorney who from 2002 to 2016 was the United States Ambassador to Timor-Leste, wrote a biography of Treen as the U.S. Representative launched his second, and only successful gubernatorial campaign.
Treen died at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie in Jefferson Parish from a respiratory illness. His wife, the former Dolores "Dodi" Brisbi, had died in 2005. The Treens are interred at an undisclosed site in Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish outside New Orleans. Treen was a Methodist.
Then ouisiana Republican State Chairman Roger F. Villere, Jr., of Metairie called Treen "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."