Louis Lambert

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Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr.​

Louisiana State Senator for District 18 (parts of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. James, and
St. John the Baptist parishes)​
In office
1994​ – 1992​
Preceded by Joe Sevario​
Succeeded by Jody Amedee

Louisiana State Senator for Ascension, Livingston, and St. James parishes​
In office
1972​ – 1974​
Preceded by George T. Oubre​
Succeeded by Ralph Falsetta​

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner from Baton Rouge-based District 3​
Incumbent
Assumed office 
1974​
Preceded by New position​
Succeeded by Irma Muse Dixon​

Member of Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors​
In office
2002​ – June 1, 2008​

Born December 21, 1940​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Mary Gayle S. Lambert​
Children
Alma mater St Amant School

Louisiana State University
Loyola New Orleans School of Law

Occupation Attorney
Religion Christian

Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr. (born December 21, 1940), is a Louisiana attorney, businessman, former member and chairman of his state's Public Service Commission. He also served two nonsecutive years in the state Senate.​ ​ Lambert, while serving on the PSC, lost the 1979 gubernatorial race to Republican U.S. Representative David C. Treen, then of Jefferson Parish in Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. A switch of 4,979 votes out of nearly 1.4 million cast, however, would have made Lambert governor by a one-vote margin. Lambert was the first Louisiana Democrat to lose to a Republican candidate in a statewide general election.

Lambert represented District 18 in the Louisiana State Senate from 1994 until 2004. His district encompassed parts of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. James, and St. John the Baptist Parish parishes. He lives in Prairieville in Ascension Parish with his wife, Mary Gayle S. Lambert.​

Lambert was scheduled to be a runoff candidate in general election held on November 4, 2008, for district attorney in the 23rd Judicial District, which encompasses Ascension, Assumption, and St. James parishes. He faced a fellow Democrat, assistant district attorney Ricky Babin (born c. 1962). In the October 4 nonpartisan blanket primary, Babin received 11,540 votes (34.8 percent) to Lambert's 9,370 votes (28.3 percent).​ [1] Citing political divisiveness in the lengthy campaign, Lambert withdrew from the race, and Babin won by default.[2]

Education and community involvement

​ Lambert graduated from the Capital Page School in Washington, D.C., and attended the St. Amant School in St. Amant in Ascension Parish. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and his law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans.​

Lambert is a retired captain in the Louisiana National Guard. He is a member of the Ascension Chamber of Commerce, the East Ascension Sportsman League, creator and volunteer chairman of the board of the River Region Cancer Clinic, and is the creator and volunteer chairman of the board of the River Parishes Community College in Sorrento in Ascension Parish. Lambert lists his religion as Christian.

Constitutional convention delegate, 1973

Lambert was elected on a non-partisan ballot in the summer of 1972 as a delegate to the state constitutional convention, which met in Baton Rouge during 1973. The convention produced a new governing document, which voters handily approved in the spring of 1974.

On the Public Service Commission

​ Lambert began his political career as the Gonzales town attorney. Then in the 1971-1972 election cycle, he won a state Senate seat which then included Ascension, Livingston, and St. James parishes. At the age of thirty-one, he succeeded by state Senator George T. Oubre, who ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in the Democratic primary. The position instead went to William J. Guste, of New Orleans.​ One of the PSC commissioner with whom Lambert served was Edward Kennon, a nephew of former Governor Robert F. Kennon.

However, Lambert resigned halfway through that Senate term (when he had also been a constitutional convention delegate) after his election to the PSC. The regulatory body expanded from three to five members under the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 which Lambert helped to write. Lambert won the PSC District 3 seat based about Baton Rouge.​

Lambert was chairman of the PSC for several terms. For a time, Kathleen Blanco of Lafayette, who was elected as the state's first woman governor in 2003, was the PSC vice-chairman during one term when Lambert was the chairman. Blanco served on the PSC from 1988 to 1996.​In his last election to the PSC in 1986, Lambert defeated the Republican Archie Mollere by the lopsided margin of 171,872 (86 percent) to 28,420 (14 percent). Lambert was succeeded on the PSC by its first African-American member, Irma Muse Dixon.

Gubernatorial general election, 1979

​ Lambert eyed the 1979 gubernatorial race with confidence and with history on his side. Three previous governors had served on the PSC prior to their gubernatorial victories: Huey Pierce Long, Jr., Jimmie Davis, and John J. McKeithen. Lambert sought to succeed two-term-limited Governor Edwin Edwards. Republican David Treen led the balloting against the divided field of Democrats but was far short of an outright majority.

Lambert faced a legal challenge to secure his general election berth. Then Lieutenant Governor Jimmy Fitzmorris, of New Orleans had initially led for the second spot, but when a retabulation put Lambert ahead of Fitzmorris by some 2,500 votes, Fitzmorris went to court. He alleged that Lambert had benefited from fraudulent votes in certain parishes as well as improper counting procedures. Judge Douglas Gonzales, a Republican serving on the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, said in the hearing brought about by Fitzmorris' suit that he sympathized with the lieutenant governor's position. However, Judge Gonzalez found that Fitzmorris had not located sufficient numbers of questionable votes cast for Lambert to put Fitzmorris, rather than Lambert, into the general election.

The disappointed Fitzmorris and three other major Democratic gubernatorial candidates all endorsed Treen: Secretary of State Paul Hardy, originally from St. Martinville] state Senator Edgar G. "Sonny" Mouton, Jr., of Lafayette, and outgoing House Speaker Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry, then of Jonesboro in Jackson Parish in north Louisiana. Lambert seemed to stand alone while his four major intraparty rivals backing the Republican choice for governor.​

Despite the actions of other Democratic gubernatorial candidates, outgoing Governor Edwards endorsed Lambert: "He is going to, more than Dave Treen, continue the programs that I'm proud of in Louisiana."[3] Treen replied that the Lambert campaign was in dire need of a major endorsement, and Edwards was there to comply.[4]​ ​ Lambert said the had "always run against the politicians, the power brokers, and the political bosses." He expected that his state's overwhelming Democratic registration would provide him with a margin of victory despite the defection of prominent individuals to the Treen camp. In a speech before the New Orleans Press Club, Lambert tore into his opponent, David Treen:​ ​

​ I am afraid that the people of Louisiana do not know Dave Treen is an insensitive man who has no concern for the poor, elderly, or the hard-working people of our state. And I intend to begin drawing the lines here and now. ... He is attempting to make people believe that he is a Moderate Republican who all of a sudden favors programs and dollars for Louisiana which he has consistentlyh voted against on the federal level. He has consistently voted with a small minority in Congress who oppose any and all programs based on their obstructionist philosophy.[5]

​ Lambert criticized Treen for opposing an amendment to the popular Meals on Wheels elderly nutrition program. Treen explained that the program had been funded for $99 million but another $141 million had been left unspent from the preceding year. He considered further spending for such programs to be inflationary.[6]​ ​ Lambert won the support of Edwards and Edwards' predecessor as governor, John Julian McKeithen, who had supported Paul Hardy in the primary. Some, however, speculated that Edwards did not mind that Treen won the election because Edwards wanted to challenge a "Governor Treen" in the 1983 nonpartisan blanket primary for a potential third term. In his endorsement of Lambert, Edwards said:​ ​

​ Those that support the Republican philosophy believe that government exists to do as little as possible for people. Those of us who are populists so to speak, and real Democrats, believe that government exists to help people. It's that simple.[7]

​ A surprise of the campaign was that Lambert ran well in North Louisiana, where he carried more than a dozen parishes which had supported Treen in Treen's earlier 1972 campaign against Edwards. The parishes included Morehouse and Webster parishes. Treen dominated the suburban parishes around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Lambert's weakness, however, was to the west of his home base: Acadiana, where Treen ran strongly in Lafayette Parish and the nearby sugar parishes. Factions which had supported Hardy and Mouton in the primary agreed to work for Treen. In an appearance in Lafayette, Treen told the Acadiana audience that his campaign reached across party, racial, and geographic lines. Mouton, who had been an Edwards loyalist, said at the rally: "Did you ever think you would see this sight -- a bunch of Acadiana Democrats cheering a Republican?"​ ​ Treen finished with 690,691 (50.3 percent) to Lambert's 681,134 (49.7 percent). Treen won only twenty-two of the sixty-four parishes in victory, whereas he had carried twenty-seven parishes in defeat in 1972. Only ten parishes supported Treen in both 1972 and 1979, including Bossier, Caddo, Ouachita, Lincoln, East Baton Rouge, Lincoln. Treen's victory is attributed to his Acadiana margins -- Lafayette, Iberia, Terrebonne, Acais, and St. Martin parishes, where he overcame huge deficits from 1972 to win in 1979.​ ​ Lambert blamed his defeat principally on Fitzmorris' lawsuit: "If it hadn't been for that lawsuit, I would have beat him 55 percent to 45 percent." Lambert never again sought statewide office. He remained a public service commissioner until 1992.​

Returning to the state Senate, 1994

​ In 1994, Lambert returned to the state Senate, when the longtime incumbent Joe Sevario, of Prairieville, resigned. Lambert won the special election over his fellow Democrat, later Republican, "Jeff" Diez, 9,068 (57 percent) to 6,965 (43 percent). He was reelected in 1995 over the Republican Kirk T. Harrison, 37,876 (80 percent) to 9,655 (20 percent). Unopposed in 1999, Lambert did not seek another term in 2003.​

Lambert was chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee. He worked closely with Republican Senator Robert J. Barham of Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish, on various environmental questions, including the preservation of the state's shrinking wetlands. Lambert, loyal Democrat, even donated to Barham's unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2002.​

Lambert was appointed in 2002 as one of the sixteen members of the prestigious Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors by Republican Governor Murphy J. Foster, Jr. Lambert and Foster had been state senators together during 1995. The six-year term on the LSU board ended on June 1, 2008.​ ​ Lambert served briefly on the 16-member University of Louisiana System board until his term expired on December 31, 2012. Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, who had named Lambert to fill an unexpired term on the board in 2011, did not reappoint him to a full term.[8]

References

  1. The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, October 5, 2008.
  2. "Our Opinion: A twist in the DA," Gonzales Weekly Citizen,October 15, 2008, p. 1.
  3. "Edwards endorses Louis Lambert," Minden Press-Herald, November 26, 1979, p. 1.
  4. Minden Press-Herald, November 29, 1979, p. 1.
  5. Shreveport Journal, September 26, 1979, p. 1.
  6. Shreveport Journal, October 2, 1979, p. 1.
  7. Shreveport Journal, December 4, 1979, p. 8A.
  8. Jindal names eight new USL board members. The Monroe News-Star (January 3, 2013). Retrieved on January 4, 2013.

Other sources

  • Shreveport Journal, November 27, December 4, 5, 10, 1979​.
  • The Shreveport Times, December 10, 1979.​

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