John C. Ensminger

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John Clifford Ensminger, Sr.​

Louisiana State Representative
for Ouachita Parish (now District 14)​
In office
1972​ – 1991​
Preceded by James L. Dennis​

James Peyton Smith
​ T. T. Fields​

Succeeded by Charles McDonald​

Louisiana State Senator from District 34 (Ouachita Parish)​
In office
1991​ – 1992​
Preceded by Lawson Swearingen
Succeeded by Charles D. Jones​

Born August 28, 1934​​
Political party Democrat-turned Republican​ (1985)
Spouse(s) Gladys G. Ensminger​
Children John C. Ensminger, Jr.

Susan E. Jenkins
Paula E. Gan
Rex William and Irma G. Ensminger ​

Residence Monroe, Louisiana​
Alma mater Neville High School in Monroe​
Occupation Insurance agent​
Religion Presbyterian
  • In his last election, Ensminger defeated E. Frank Snellings, the husband of former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, for a one-year unexpired term in the Louisiana State Senate for Ouachita Parish.​

John Clifford Ensminger, Sr. (born August 28, 1934), is a State Farm Insurance agent in Monroe, Louisiana,[1] who served for two decades in both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature. Ensminger was elected in 1972 as a conservative Democrat to the state House of Representatives from Ouachita Parish, now District 14. He succeeded James L. Dennis (born 1936), who was elected as a judge on the 4th Judicial District Court based in Monroe.


Ensminger is the son of Rex William Ensminger (1901–1990) and Irma G. Ensminger (1904–1996) of Monroe. Ensminger graduated in 1952 from Neville High School in Monroe. He and his wife, Gladys G. Ensminger (born 1939), have a son, John Ensminger, Jr. (born 1955), who is also in the insurance business.[2]He is a Presbyterian.[3] His namesake grandson, John Ensminger, III, died on December 11, 2020, at the age of twenty-seven.[4]

Political life

During the 1980-1984 state legislative term, Ensminger and the sergeant-at-arms, Richard L. Barrios, were compelled to grab a colleague, Shady Wall of West Monroe, when Wall pulled out a pistol from a boot holster during a fit of rage at colleague Carl Newton Gunter, Jr. (1938-1999) of Rapides Parish]], who had accidentally shut off Wall's conference ongoing telephone call with Wall's bank in Monroe.[5]

In 1985, Ensminger switched to Republican affiliation, as did his colleague, Jock Scott of Alexandria. In 1987, in his first election as a Republican, Ensminger was forced into a general election with the Democrat Billy Daniel, whom he then defeated, 6,195 (57.4 percent) to 4,607 (42.6 percent).[6] For a time, he was the chairman of the House Commerce Committee, with his friend Ron Gomez of Lafayette, serving as vice-chairman.[7]

In 1991, Ensminger resigned his House seat[8] after he won a special election to complete the remaining months in the term of state Senator Lawson Swearingen,[9] a Democrat who left office to become the president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Ensminger won the special election with 10,799 votes (53.3 percent) over two Democrats, E. Frank Snellings (8,937 votes or 44.1 percent), and John H. Powell (524 or 2.7 percent).[10] Snellings (born 1949) is the husband of former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, then from New Orleans, who was then the state treasurer.[11] Thereafter, Ensminger did not seek a full term in the state Senate in the nonpartisan blanket primary held in October 1991. The seat, redistricted after the 1990 census, was then won by the Democrat Charles D. Jones.[12]

Though he left political office, Ensminger remained active in business. He is also a frequent donor to Republican candidates and party organizations. In 1998, however, he donated to Democratic U.S. Senator John Breaux, who won his final term by a wide margin over the Republican Jim Donelon, since the Louisiana insurance commissioner.[13] In 2008, he donated to the campaign of his former state House colleague, Woody Jenkins, the Baton Rouge Republican, who failed in a special election for the United States House of Representatives. Jenkins had been Democrat Mary Landrieu's Republican opponent in 1996.[14]


  1. John Ensminger, Sr.. State Farm Insurance. Retrieved on January 15, 2010; no longer on-line.
  2. People Search and Background Check
  3. "Louisiana: John C. Ensminger," Who's Who in American Politics, 2007-2008 (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2007), p. 657.
  4. John C. Ensminger, III. The Monroe News-Star (December 13, 2020). Retrieved on December 14, 2020.
  5. Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, (Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000), p. 70.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 21, 1987.
  7. Ron Gomez, p. 144.
  8. Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1880-2020. Louisiana House of Repesentatives. Retrieved on December 23, 2019.
  9. Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2020. Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on December 23, 2019.
  10. Louisiana secretary of state, Special election returns, February 23, 1991
  11. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu to speak at LSU's Spring 2009 Commencement. LSU. Retrieved on January 24, 2010; no longer on-line.
  12. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 19, 1991.
  13. Monroe, LA, Political Contributions by Individuals, 1998. Retrieved on December 23, 2019.
  14. Monroe, LA, Political Contributions by Individuals, 2008. Retrieved on December 23, 2019.

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