Edward Kennon

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Francis Edward "Ed" Kennon, Jr.

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner
In office
January 1, 1973 – December 31, 1984
Preceded by John Smoker Hunt, II
Succeeded by Donald Lynn "Don" Owen

Born August 31, 1938
Minden, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democrat/ later Independent
Spouse(s) (1) Mary Virginia Nehring Kennon (divorced)

(2) Jeanette Claire Woodard Moreland, known as Jenny Kennon (divorced)

(3) Brenda Evans Kennon

Relations Robert F. Kennon (uncle)
Children John Edward Kennon (1967-2003)

Kari Melissa Kennon (born 1986)

Stepchildren:
Rodney Kennon
Kelly Kennon Gillis

Residence Shreveport, Louisiana
Alma mater Minden High School

Centenary College of Louisiana

Occupation Businessman, real estate developer

Francis Edward Kennon, Jr., known as Ed Kennon (born August 31, 1938), is a multi-millionaire Shreveport real-estate developer and a former member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, the regulatory body for oil, natural gas, and utilities.

A Democrat, Kennon represented north Louisiana on the PSC for two six-year terms from January 1, 1973, until December 31, 1984. During his tenure, the panel was enlarged from three to five members under a provision of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974. Kennon first represented thirty-three parishes in District 3 and then eighteen parishes in the smaller District 5. Kennon's uncle was Robert F. Kennon, a conservative Democrat who served as governor of Louisiana from 1952 to 1956, sandwiched in between the two elected terms of Earl Kemp Long

Background

Kennon was born in Minden, in Webster Parish in the northwestern part of his state. His father, Francis Edward Kennon, Sr. (1899–1945), was known as F. E. Kennon; his mother, Clara Wallace Kennon (1913–1997), was a native of Arkansas. F. E. and his brother, Webb Kennon, operated the former Kennon's Grocery in downtown Minden, the first in Minden to have price tags on the merchandise. After Floyd's death, Clara continued to operate the store, for which she had long handled the financial obligations. She also did tax consulting for individual clients. The business was begun by Kennon's paternal grandfather, Floyd Kennon (1871–1966). Kennon has a younger brother, Michael Wayne "Mike" Kennon (born 1942).

After he graduated from Minden High School in 1956, Ed Kennon attended the Methodist-affiliated Centenary College in Shreveport but did not graduate. Instead, he entered the concrete business in Minden with Frank Burnett Treat, Jr. (1923–1994) and built the Kennon Apartments there. Later he became a high-powered developer in Shreveport and adjoining Bossier City. He and his third wife are directors of the Tri-State Bank and Trust in Haughton in Bossier Parish. Kennon purchased the bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He owns the Tri-State Sand and Gravel Company, the developer of Lakewood, a 600-home subdivision in Bossier Parish. He also is the developer of Forest Hills in Bossier Parish.

In the political arena

Late in 1963, after Kennon's uncle failed to gain a Democratic runoff slot in a gubernatorial comeback attempt, Ed Kennon, became the chairman of the Webster Parish Morrison for Governor Committee. In a public speech, Kennon endorsed former New Orleans Mayor deLesseps Story "Chep" Morrison, Sr., who was making a third unsuccessful bid for governor. (Robert Kennon himself sat out the runoff.) Despite Kennon's assistance, Morrison fared poorly in north Louisiana and lost the runoff to John J. McKeithen, a folksy lawyer from tiny Columbia in Caldwell Parish south of Monroe. Coincidentally, gubernatorial candidate McKeithen then held the PSC seat to which Kennon would be elected eight years later.

On November 6, 1971, Kennon ran unsuccessfully in a 10-candidate Democratic field for lieutenant governor in an effort to succeed the retiring Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock (1915-1987) of Franklin in St. Mary Parish in south Louisiana. Aycock instead ran for governor. Kennon finished third with 162,944 votes. Other candidates in the field included two bankers who served in the legislature, state Senator Jamar Adcock of Monroe and State Representative P. J. Mills of Shreveport, who finished narrowly behind Kennon in fourth place. Mills later headed Blue Cross Blue Shield in his native Baton Rouge. The party nomination and the general election went to former New Orleans City Councilman James E. "Jimmy" Fitzmorris, Jr., a former Morrison protégé, won the party nomination and then the general election. After he defeated Adcock in the party runoff election, Fitzmorris easily dispatched the Republican candidate, former State Representative Morley Hudson of Shreveport. Closed primaries ended in Louisiana in 1975, but they returned briefly in 2008 only for congressional races.

In the lieutenant governor's race, Kennon also had to compete with a second candidate from Webster Parish, outgoing State Representative Parey Branton of rural Shongaloo. Branton was allied with Democrat gubernatorial candidate John Gerald Schwegmann, Jr. of Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs. Ironically, Schwegmann later became one of Kennon's colleagues on the Public Service Commission. Statewide, Branton polled only 53,295 votes, fewer than one third of the votes that Kennon had amassed.

Public Service Commission

In the August 19, 1972, Democratic primary for the PSC, Kennon challenged incumbent John Smoker Hunt, II, a Monroe attorney and a nephew of former Governors Huey and Earl Long who had supported Barry Goldwater for President in 1964. Hunt's mother, Lucille Long Hunt (1898–1985), was a sister of the two governors. Also in the race was a Long kinsman named "Huey P. Long" (1929–2004), then of Pineville in Rapides Parish. Hunt alleged that Kennon had recruited Long as a candidate to siphon away some of Hunt's pro-Long support.

In the primary, Kennon led with 122,573 votes (47.1 percent) to Hunt's 106,212 (40.8 percent). Long procured a critical 31,692 votes (12.2 percent). Kennon led in twenty-three parishes in the sprawling district, which then reached as far south as West Baton Rouge Parish. He won 58 percent in his own Webster Parish and also procured pluralities in Natchitoches, La Salle, DeSoto, Avoyelles, St. Landry, and the Long traditional stronghold of Winn. Hunt led in ten parishes, including Caddo, Bossier, Lincoln, Ouachita, and Jackson.

Kennon unseated Hunt in the September 30 party runoff election, 125,877 votes (58 percent) to 90,833 (42 percent). Kennon won twenty-nine parishes to Hunt's four. Hunt lost his native Lincoln Parish in the runoff by 176 votes and held his home base, Ouachita Parish, by a single vote, 15,502 to 15,501. Kennon was unopposed in the November 7 general election, as no Republican candidate qualified for the ballot. On September 16, 1978, Kennon won his second term in the revised PSC seat for the 5th district. In the nonpartisan blanket primary, he polled 124,147 votes (71 percent) to 50,652 (29 percent) for intra-party rival Wayne Martin Pender (born March 14, 1940) of Monroe. Kennon won all eighteen parishes. Again, there was no Republican candidate for the seat, once held by Huey P. Long, Jr., himself.

Kennon joined the three-member PSC when he was thirty-four. The senior member and chairman, Ernest Clements, a Long protégé, was seventy-five and nearing the end of a long public career. The two presented a contrast in age and faction. Clements left the PSC at the end of 1974. With the five-member board, Kennon served with fellow Commissioners John F. Schwegmann (son of John G. Schwegmann), Nat B. Knight, Thomas Elmer "Tommy" Powell of Eunice in Evangeline Parish, and chairman Louis Lambert of Baton Rouge, a former and future member of the Louisiana State Senate and a strong gubernatorial candidate in 1979. Kennon did not seek public office after his PSC term expired, but in 1994 he announced that he would run for governor in 1995. Instead he withdrew from gubernatorial consideration on August 2, 1994, and the seat eventually went to Democrat-turned-Republican Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., of St. Mary Parish, the grandson of a 19th-century namesake governor.

Kennon was succeeded on the PSC by fellow Democrat Donald Lynn "Don" Owen, a former KSLA-TV news anchorman from Shreveport. In 2004, Kennon crossed party lines to contribute to the successful Republican candidate for the United States Senate waged by David Vitter of suburban New Orleans.

Personal life

Kennon was first married to the former Mary Virginia Nehring (1942–2002), "Miss Minden" in 1960, by whom he had a son, John Edward Kennon (1967–2003). He adopted two children by Virginia's first marriage to Rodney McMichael: Rodney Kennon (married to the former Jymme Story) of Bossier City and Kelly Kennon Gillis (born 1964) of Haughton in Bossier Parish.

After Kennon and Virginia divorced, he married the former Jeanette Claire "Jenny" Woodard (born 1939), the widow of professional basketball player Jackie Moreland, also a graduate of Minden High School. After seven years of marriage, Kennon divorced Jeanette.[1]

He then wed the former Brenda Evans (born 1958). They have a daughter, Kari Melissa Kennon (born 1986). The Kennons reside in the fashionable Ellerbe Road area of southeast Shreveport.

In 2013, the office of then Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler listed Kennon as not a Democrat but an Independent voter.

References

  1. "Jenny Kennon," Minden Memories; website no longer active.