Jock Scott

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John Wyeth "Jock" Scott, II

Louisiana State Representative for District 26 (Rapides Parish)
In office
1976–1988
Preceded by Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr.
Succeeded by Charles R. Herring

Born June 29, 1947
Alexandria, Louisiana
Died April 25, 2009 (aged 61)
Alexandria, Louisiana
Resting place Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville
Political party Democrat-turned- Republican (1985)
Spouse(s) Cynthia "Cyndy" Henderson Scott
Relations Hilda Phelps Hammond (grandmother)

Ashton Phelps
(great-grandfather)

Children Natalie Scott Seeling

John Wyeth Scott, III
Elizabeth Scott

Alma mater Bolton High School

Tulane University Louisiana State University
LSU Law School of Law

Occupation Attorney

College professor

John Wyeth Scott II, known as Jock Scott (June 29, 1947 – April 25, 2009), was an attorney and college professor in his native Alexandria, Louisiana, who served three terms as the District 26 state representative, first as a Democrat (1976-1985) and then as a Republican (1985–1988).

Scott was defeated in a race for the state Senate in 1987. He also lost two bids for the United States House of Representatives: a 1985 special election in the 8th congressional district, since disbanded, when he ran as a Democrat, and in the 2004 nonpartisan blanket primary for the 5th congressional district, when he challenged Republican U.S. Representative Rodney Alexander of Jackson Parish. The district is now represented by Ralph Abraham, a departing Republican who ran unsuccessfully for governor in the 2019 nonpartisan blanket primary.


Background

Scott was a son of Nauman Steele Scott, II (1916-2001) and the former Blanche Hammond (1920–1985).[1] His maternal grandmother, Hilda Phelps Hammond, was a New Orleans political activist who challenged what she considered the corruption of Governor and U.S. Senator Huey Pierce Long, Jr. Scott's maternal great-grandfather, Ashton Phelps (1853-1919), was the president of the publishing companies for the former The Times-Democrat (1889-1914) and The New Orleans Times-Picayune (1914-1919). In 1965, Scott graduated from Bolton High School in Alexandria. at which one of his classmates was another future Louisiana state legislator, Charles W. DeWitt, Jr., from the neighboring District 25. The two were House colleagues from 1980 to 1988. DeWitt, later the Speaker of the Louisiana House, said that Scott always worked for the betterment of the public, not for his personal financial gain.[2]

In 1969, Scott received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. He then graduated from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert School of Law in Baton Rouge. He was in law school at the time that U.S. President Richard M. Nixon named Scott's Republican father to a new Alexandria-based U.S. District judgeship.

Scott was married from 1970 until his death to the former Cynthia "Cyndy" Henderson (born 1948), a speech pathologist whom he had first met while she was a student at the since defunct St. Mary's Dominican College in New Orleans. Scott was the father of three grown children, Natalie Seeling and her husband, Michael, of Alexandria, John W. Scott, III, and his wife, Kristin, of Trinidad, and Elizabeth Scott of San Francisco, California. He had two grandsons too, John W. Scott, IV, and William Henderson Seeling.[3]

Legislative election

In 1975, in the first-ever Louisiana nonpartisan blanket primary, Scott was elected to the District 26 House seat, which primarily covers the city of Alexandria and some surrounding points. He succeeded fellow Democrat Ned Randolph, who gave up the position after a single term to contest, successfully, a Louisiana Senate seat in the same election cycle. Scott defeated Lloyd George Teekell, later a 9th Judicial District judge who had served earlier in the state House from 1953 to 1960. Scott polled 3,908 votes (54.7 percent) to Teekell's 3,233 ballots (45.3 percent). Randolph, meanwhile, unseated four-term Democratic State Senator Cecil R. Blair of Lecompte in south Rapides Parish.[4]

Randolph, five years Scott's senior, was also a Bolton High school graduate and an attorney. Randolph and Scott quickly acquired reputations as "reformers" or "Young Turks" in the Louisiana legislature. They often disagreed with legislative leaders who wanted more spending than the state's receipts would permit. In 1976, Randolph and Scott headed the Greater Alexandria campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter of Georgia, who won majorities in Rapides Parish (54 percent) and statewide (53 percent) as well.

Though a Carter supporter, Scott broke with the presidential candidate over the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. He cast a key vote in 1976 in the House Civil Law Committee against the ERA. He had been expected to vote to send ERA to the full House but reversed himself. His reason was concern that women would be subject to future military conscription.

A House reformer

Scott authored new House rules to require that new bills be printed and distributed to House members before referral to committees and to mandate the fiscal impact of such proposed legislation could consideration by the House. Scott authored legislation that was eventually enacted to require a priority system for funding capital outlay projects, a system that included the requirement that all such projects undergo needs assessment evaluations. This law challenged the governor's traditional control over the capital outlay budget, a system by which the governor could bargain for legislative votes by rewarding cooperative lawmakers with projects in their districts. The battle for reform included a 1978 victory by Scott and his colleagues when they succeeded in the House in defeating Edwards's capital outlay bill, the only time a Louisiana governor had faced such a challenge to his authority.

Thereafter Scott and Edwards clashed often over political and spending issues regarding capital outlay, state budgeting and appropriations, tax issues, and other fiscal matters. Scott began introducing his own capital outlay and appropriations bills, normally the exclusive domain of the governor and legislative floor leaders. Scott's purpose, he declared at the time, was to demonstrate that millions could be saved if merit prevailed over political considerations in the budget process. Scott was reelected to his legislative seat as a Democrat. He polled 7,419 votes (76.9 percent) in the primary held on October 27, 1979. His intraparty opponent, former Alexandria Finance and Utilities Commissioner Arnold Jack Rosenthal, received 2,229 votes (23.1 percent). Rosenthal had been an unsuccessful candidate for state senator in the 1971 Democratic primary and for mayor of Alexandria in the 1977 nonpartisan blanket primary.[5] Rosenthal was a delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, California.[6] In 1976, however, Rosenthal supported Carter's opponent, Moderate Republican Gerald Ford, while Jock Scott was organizing voters for Carter.

Scott became chairman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee during his second legislative term (1980–1984). He had helped his colleague John Hainkel of New Orleans become Speaker of the House. Hainkel had the support of incoming Republican Governor David C. Treen. Scott served on Hainkel's House Executive Committee and would also direct the procedure for state House and congressional reapportionment. Meanwhile, in an uprising of fiscal conservatives, Scott won a surprise victory in 1980 over the forces of Governor Edwin Edwards and U.S. Representative Gillis William Long in the Democratic State Central Committee by winning the post of national committeeman.

Last election victory

On October 23, 1983, Scott was elected to his last term in the legislature. Still a Democrat, he defeated two intra-party opponents in the nonpartisan blanket primary. Scott polled 6,458 of the 11,076 votes cast in the race, or 58.3 percent. An African-American candidate, the Reverend Errol Dorsey, drew 1,780 votes (16.1 percent), and the attorney Christopher J. Roy, Sr., a law partner of the legendary Alexandrian Camille Francis Gravel, Jr., and father of former Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy and former state Representative Chris Roy, Jr., polled 2,838 votes (25.6 percent).[7]

In 1980, Judge Nauman Scott ordered cross-parish busing, school consolidations, some school closures, and the reassignment of principals to increase the level of desegregation in Rapides Parish schools, contrary to the wishes of many citizens in the outlying Wards 10 and 11, including the area served by Buckeye High School. Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Richard E. "Dick" Lee of Pineville unsuccessfully tried to stem Scott's order.[8]

Years later, referring to his father's desegregation ruling, Scott said that his father's "primary concern was always the children of Rapides Parish or whatever school system he was working with... I know the people who hated him would not believe that. He tried to protect the people who had been discriminated against and to protect the schools."[9] Scott also predicted that his father, had he lived, would have been satisfied with the 2006 decision by Judge Dee D. Drell of Alexandria to end the desegregation lawsuit against the Rapides Parish School Board.[9] Despite the unpopularity of Judge Scott's orders among the more conservative voters, Jock Scott, as a Democrat, won a third term in the legislature in 1983 even as Edwin Edwards procured a comeback third term as governor by handily unseating David Treen. Randolph, however, was defeated for a third term in the state senate. Three years later, Randolph resurrected his political career by winning the first of five consecutive terms as mayor of Alexandria, a position from which he retired on December 4, 2006, a decade before his death.

In 1987, Scott was named "National Legislator of the Year" by the National Republican Legislators Association.[3]

First congressional defeat

Early in 1985, while he was still a Democrat, Jock Scott ran in the special election to choose a successor to Congressman Gillis Long, who died at the time of President Ronald W. Reagan's second inauguration. Scott faced Long's widow, the former Catherine "Cathy" Small, a native of Dayton, Ohio, and Clyde Cecil Holloway (1943-2016), a conservative Republican who operated a tree nursery in Forest Hill south of Alexandria. Holloway had strongly opposed Judge Scott's desegregation orders and was making his second bid for Congress. Mrs. Long won the position outright with 61,791 votes (55.7 percent) to Scott's 27,138 ballots (24.5 percent), and Holloway's 18,013 votes (16.3 percent).[10] Cathy Long did not seek a full term in 1986. Scott, by then a Republican, was personally asked in the White House by President Reagan to seek the office. For undisclosed reasons, Scott declined to run. Holloway then went on to take the seat for the first of three consecutive terms from 1987–1993.

Scott's third term in the Louisiana House featured more battles over fiscal and tax policy against Governor Edwards. He had authored two successful tax reduction measures under the Treen administration, including the indexing of inflation of state income taxes, something Reagan had promoted at the national level, and a measure that reduced state income taxes by one-third across the board.

Running for state senator

The "reformer" Scott became a Republican in the latter half of 1985. So did a colleague from Monroe, John C. Ensminger. Scott would have run for governor in 1987 had he, rather than U.S. Representative Bob Livingston of Louisiana's 1st congressional district received the official endorsement that year of the state GOP. [11]

In 1987, Scott instead ran for the District 29 state senate seat previously held by his colleague, Ned Randolph, who had since become mayor of Alexandria. It was Ed Steimel, the founding president of the Baton Rouge-based trade association, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, or LABI, who urged Scott to make the senatorial race. Like Randolph four years earlier, however, Scott was defeated by the Democrat William Joseph "Joe" McPherson, Jr., who had the backing of AFL-CIO President Victor Bussie. McPherson polled 16,950 (51 percent) in the primary and hence retained the seat outright. Scott trailed with 12,346 votes (37 percent). Former state senator Cecil R. Blair sought a comeback but netted only 4,245 votes (13 percent). [12]

Years later, Scott attributed his defeat to both McPherson's tough electioneering and the unpopularity of Judge Scott's desegregation orders in rural portions of Rapides Parish. Scott's state House seat also reverted to Democratic hands: Charles R. Herring, an Alexandria chiropractor, held the seat for a single term. In Scott's own words in 2006: "I had decided to sit out the 1987 elections after my struggles with Edwards during those difficult legislative years... I needed a break. Then [Edward] Steimel talked me into the state senate race against McPherson. Very harsh race and very difficult for me in the country precincts with the unpopularity of desegregation/busing orders by my father... plus Joe is a very tough candidate. ... I had become a Republican. So that was the end for me."

While McPherson has defeated both Randolph and Scott, the one Republican who has defeated McPherson is Holloway, who beat him in the 1990 congressional primary and again in the 2009 special election for the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Until 2009, the 1990 congressional election has been Holloway's last victory.

In 1996, a Republican, Randy Wiggins, became the first member of his party elected in Rapides Parish to serve in the state House based in Pineville Wiggins subsequently ran unsuccessfully for state senator in 1999 against McPherson and 2019 against Democrat Jay Luneau. He also opposed the reelection of state Representative Chris Hazel in 2011.

Family tragedy

Scott's older brother, Nauman Steele Scott III (born 1945) died on January 8, 2002, four months after the death of their father, Judge Scott. Nauman, III, was a lawyer in New Orleans and co-owner with the third Scott brother, Arthur Hammond Scott (born 1950), of the former Black Top Records, which preserved much of the rhythm and blues music culture.

Judge Nauman Scott died just after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Mrs. Blanche Scott preceded Judge Scott in death by sixteen years.

Making LSU-Alexandria a four-year institution

After his legislative service ended, Scott, who has great interest in United States and Louisiana history, obtained both his Master of Arts and Ph.D. from LSU in Baton Rouge in the field of history. He maintained a part-time law practice in Alexandria and was also an assistant professor of history at the newly four-year institution, LSU-Alexandria, having taught for twenty-four years both U.S. and Louisiana history. [13] He taught part-time at Louisiana College in Pineville, LSU in Baton Rouge, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.[3] In 1986, Scott penned a novel entitled, To the Victor: A Novel of Louisiana Politics, in which some of the characters are modeled on real politicians. To the Victor was published by Claitor's in Baton Rouge. [14] He also wrote scholarly history articles. [3]

In the spring of 2001, Scott served as chairman of "Friends of LSUA," which worked successfully to make the institution a four-year degree-granting university. Chancellor Robert Cavanaugh saluted Scott in the school's 2003 commencement exercises: "Jock worked many, many long hours and used his legislative experience to usher Senate Bill 853 [which created four-year status for LSUA] through the legislature."; [3] [15] LSUA honored Scott in 2003 with its "Distinguished Service Award," the highest honor the university bestows on members of the Central Louisiana community. Scott was the eighth recipient of the honor, which recognizes his active participation in efforts to promote the advancement and support of the institution; recognition as a leader throughout the community, with an interest in the quality of education provided by LSUA; an exemplary record of service to higher education and to the community at large; and contributions of time, talents and/or financial resources to benefit the university.

Losing to Rodney Alexander, 2004

In 2004, seventeen years after his last campaign, Scott announced that he would launch a Republican challenge to incumbent Democratic Representative Rodney Alexander, who had been a narrow winner, 974 votes out of 172,462 votes cast, in 2002 over the young businessman Lee Fletcher of Monroe. National Republican leaders at first agreed to support Scott.

Then, minutes before the qualifying deadline, and after he had already filed for reelection as a Democrat, Alexander switched parties. His action left the Democrats without a credible candidate in the race and undercut Scott's chances as well.[16] Alexander in particular angered the state's two powerful Democratic U.S. Senators, John Breaux (who had announced his retirement) and Mary Landrieu (reelected to second and third terms in 2002 and 2008 but unseated in 2014 by Republican Bill Cassidy), because they had worked for Alexander in his race against Lee Fletcher. Many Louisiana Democrats called Alexander "cowardly" for his last-minute party switch.[17]

Scott remained in the race as an unendorsed Republican, but GOP leaders, including then Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, coalesced quickly behind Alexander. The National Republican Congressional Committee demanded that Scott leave the race. Party leaders even denied him the right to speak at campaign events. Nor could he raise enough funds to counter Alexander's advantage of incumbency.[18]

Scott said that the national leadership had "gone to elected officials who had endorsed me and gotten them to change their minds." Still, Scott said he was not unhappy with his party but could not appreciate the way they handled his race. "Sometimes even good organizations make faux pas. They're using their time, their talent, their money in a way that could be better used in a district where Republicans and Democrats are opposing each other... . I would assume that they have bigger fish to fry than little 'ol Jock Scott," he said.[19]

Scott proposed that the north-south Interstate 49, which links Shreveport with Lafayette through Alexandria be completed, as originally planned, so that there would be a northeastern link as well from Monroe to Alexandria, U.S. Highway 165. He vowed if elected to work for such highway funding.

Scott's hometown newspaper, The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, which in the 1960s and 1970s, under then managing editor Adras LaBorde had pointedly refused to endorse candidates, editorially supported Scott's congressional bid. According to The Town Talk:

Scott offers relevant experience, deep knowledge of the issues and high energy. The 5th congressional district needs all of that. The district needs a representative who can leverage the significant economic development happening in and around Alexandria and Pineville while providing new thinking to help jump-start its lagging areas.

Scott's ambitious proposal to build an interstate highway from Alexandria to Monroe is new thinking, for sure. Although the proposal is not practical at this time, it is aimed directly at one of the district's biggest problems: highways. It also shows an appetite for innovation, and that can help a district that is hungry to grow.

Likewise, his desire to add his voice to national issues is refreshing. He strongly supports President George W. Bush's aggressive stance against terrorism, but laments that the war in Iraq has become so political. "Scott ... understands the complex challenges facing the district and the nation. That will serve him well as a member of Congress."

Not only did Scott obtain the newspaper's backing, but its former publisher, Joe D. Smith, Jr., of Alexandria was a generous donor to Scott's campaign.[20] Another who contributed to Scott was former Democratic State Senator Bernice G. Dyess (1922-2013) of Rapides Parish, a Southern Baptist clergyman.[21]

Republican Scott ran third in the race with 37,971 votes (16 percent). His only strong showing was in Rapides Parish, where he polled 14,379 votes, but even thereAlexander outpolled him with 23,958 ballots. Zelma "Tisa" Blakes, a black Democratic womanes, finished second in district balloting with 58,591 votes (25 percent). Alexander prevailed with 141,495 (59 percent).[22] Alexander was presumably aided by his incumbency and the presence of the second President Bush, an easy winner in Louisiana, at the head of the Republican ticket.

Affiliations and charitable work

Scott was a member of the Louisiana and American bar associations, having served as treasurer, vice-president, and then president of the Louisiana Bar Foundation. He was also affiliated with the American, Southern, and Louisiana historical associations, the Rapides Arts and Humanities Council, and the Alexandria Rotary Club. He was a former vice-president of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, and he was state chairman of the United States Supreme Court Historical Society.[3]

During Hurricane Katrina Scott volunteered his time to organize the acquisition and distribution of medical supplies in Alexandria and to restore St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Port Sulphur. He also volunteered at Grace House, an outreach for the homeless at the Pentecostal Church in Alexandria. He hosted a weekly scriptural presentation on Radio Maria, a Catholic radio station, which airs internationally. At the time of his death, he was preparing to become a deacon in Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Alexandria.[3]

Death and legacy

Scott collapsed on April 25, 2009, while he was working in his yard at his residence on Jackson Street in Alexandria, according to his secretary, Debbie Harper.[9]

Even before he was a legislator, Scott was among the members of Judge William A. Culpepper's home-rule city charter commission of 1973 which produced the blueprint to change Alexandria municipal government from city commission to mayor-council.The switch occurred in 1977.

Former legislative colleague Woody Jenkins of Baton Rouge recalled his friend as one who was "always ready to stand up for good government, frugal administration, lower taxes, the rule of law, and justice for all ... ever a guardian of the rights of people. He was fearless, ready to take on any governor or powerful group that threatened the best interests of the state. He made us all laugh ... and think."[2]

John Leo Bradas (born 1935), a veteran figure in the Rapides Parish Republican Party and a former member of the parish police jury, hailed Scott as "a gentleman scholar ... a true civic and community leader ... an asset to the Republican Party [who] will be sadly missed."[2]

Then state Republican Chairman Roger F. Villere, Jr., of Metairie in Jefferson Parish termed Scott "a pioneer of the conservative movement in Louisiana ... His efforts to eliminate wasteful spending and commitment to reducing taxes were an inspiration to conservatives across the state, and I'm proud to have served with him on the Republican State Central Committee."[2] After having been his state's Democratic national committeeman in the early 1980s, Scott subsequently served on the state GOP Central Committee.

In addition to his political and legal careers, Scott penned Natalie Scott: A Magnificient Life, a 2008 biography of his great-aunt, who was awarded the s highest combat medal in France and worked on the front lines of World War I and World War II through the Red Cross. In writing the book, an updating of his doctoral dissertation Scott researched boxes of materials donated to the Tulane University archives: "I was hooked from the first file. It's really a spiritual journey."[9]

In addition to his wife, three children, and two grandsons, Scott was survived by his younger brother, Hammond Scott, and his wife, Wendy Cooper Scott, of New Orleans, and their daughter, Morgan Nina Petersen, and his sister, Ashley Scott Rankin, and her husband, B.M. "Mack" Rankin of Dallas, Texas Services were held on April 30 (Louisiana Statehood Day) at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Alexandria, with Scott's cousin, the Reverend LaVerne "Pike" Thomas, officiating. Interment was at Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville.[3] Scott's parents are interred at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.

In February 2015, Scott, his father, and Albin and Olivier Provosty were inducted posthumously, along with the late Judge Charles Allen Marvin of Minden and the political writer John Maginnis, into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[23]

References

1. Social Security Death Index. Rootsweb.ancestry.com. April 30, 2009, under pay wall.
2. R. T. Morgan, "Jock Scott remembered as 'fearless', trustworthy". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 28, 2009.
3. Obituary of Jock Scott, The Town Talk, April 28, 2009.
4. Louisiana Secretary of State, November 1, 1975 election results.
5. Louisiana Secretary of State, 1979 election returns.
6. Louisiana delegation to the 1960 Democratic National Convention. Politicalgraveyard.com. May 2, 2009.
7. Louisiana secretary of state, 1983 election returns.
8. "La. Judge from 1980s desegregation case found dead in law office," KLFY, January 17, 2016.
9. "Former State Rep. Jock Scott dies. Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 28, 2009
10. Congressional Quarterly Press, Guide to U.S. Elections, Vol. 2, Louisiana House race, 1985, p. 1230.
11. "LABI forum still lacking EWE, Long", Minden Press-Herald, November 16, 1986, p. 1.
12. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election returns, October 24, 1987.
13. News: Jock Scott (R). Washingtonpost.com. May 2, 2009.
14. "Legislator battles for reform through book," Minden Press-Herald, March 10, 1985, p. 1.
15. "LSUA honors Scott. Lsua.edu.[1], May 2, 2009.
16. "Always nice to know that there are other states with whacked out politics," Offthekuff.com., May 2, 2009.
17. News: Democratic representative switches party: Louisiana conservative to run as Republican. Cnn.com. May 2, 2009. August 7, 2004.
18. Louisiana Fifth District Race Heats Up. politicsla.com, May 2, 2009. [2], July 14, 2004.
19. News: Louisiana GOP Candidate Pressured to Drop Out. Foxnews.com. May 2, 2009. August 11, 2004.
20. City-data.com Political Contributions, city-data.com/elec. May 2, 2009.
21. B.G. Dyess from zip code 71301. https://web.archive.org/web/20110724125138/http://watchdog.net/contrib/71301/b.g._dyess. yes. July 24, 2011. watchdog.net. September 18, 2009.
22. Louisiana election returns, November 2, 2004.
23. Greg Hilburn, "Caldwell, Ellington elected to Political Hall of Fame," Monroe News-Star, November 29, 2014.