|Billy Ray Chandler|
Louisiana State Representative for District 22 (then Grant, La Salle and parts of Winn and northern Rapides parishes)
May 2006 – January 2012
|Preceded by||Thomas D. "Tommy" Wright|
|Succeeded by||Terry Brown|
|Born||October 17, 1937|
|Spouse(s)||Marcia F. Chandler|
Former member of the Grant Parish School Board
|Religion|| Southern Baptist|
Billy Ray Chandler (born October 17, 1937), is a Republican former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 22 in the north central portion of his state. The district formerly encompassed seventy-two precincts from Grant, La Salle and parts of Winn and northern Rapides parishes. Chandler initially won a special election for the representative's post on April 29, 2006.
Chandler graduated from Dry Prong High School, since Grant High School, in the village of Dry Prong in Grant Parish. He attended Louisiana College in Pineville. Chandler and his wife, Marcia F. Chandler (born October 28, 1938), reside in Dry Prong. They have three children and three grandchildren. Chandler is a retired state manager of the Woodmen of the World Insurance Company. He is a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Dry Prong. He formerly served for twenty-four years on the Grant Parish School Board and for four years as a Dry Prong alderman.
Election of 2006
In the spring of 2006, Chandler succeeded Democrat Thomas D. "Tommy" Wright of Jena, who had earlier resigned the position. As a Democrat, Chandler defeated Republican Tony Kevin Owens (born June 22, 1960), who had then relocated from Winnfield to Jena. Chandler received 5,034 votes (54 percent) to Owens' 4,234 votes (46 percent).
Five Democrats and four Republicans had competed in the first round of balloting on April 1, 2006. The Democrats polled a combined 57 percent of the vote to the GOP's 43 percent. The top candidates were Owens, with 1,858 (18 percent) and Chandler, with 1,574 (16 percent). In the runoff, Owens doubled his votes, but Chandler tripled his share of the tabulation.
Owens had also lost to Wright in the 2003 general election. He was weakened in the 2006 race because of controversy surrounding a divorce. The seat had become vacant when Wright resigned as part of a plea bargain involving a misdemeanor obscenity charge at Lake Buhlow in Pineville.
Chandler's initial victory was made possible by his strong showing as the favorite son in Grant Parish. Chandler told the The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, the largest newspaper of central Louisiana, in a victory statement on election night that he would "represent all parties, wherever they may be, all communities in the district, for one common good, to advance meeting the needs in this district. The constituents have plainly made [it clear] that they haven't been pleased in the past with [Wright's representation]."
Then Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington hailed Chandler's victory. "As a Democrat, Billy Chandler displays the moral values that we all share: helping the less fortunate, providing for our families and caring for our seniors. He will fight hard in Baton Rouge to provide better schools for our children, create good-paying jobs for our working men and women, and secure retirement benefits for our seniors," Whittington said.
District 22 was created in 1972, with Democrat Richard S. Thompson of Colfax as its first representative. The district frequently votes Republican in races for U.S. president, governor, or U.S. senator but had always sent a Democrat to the state legislature, with the exception of 1992 to 1996, when it was represented by the Independent Stephen L. Gunn of Montgomery, also in Grant Parish. Gunn did not seek a second term, and Thomas Wright was elected to succeed him
Election of 2007
Some sixteen months later, Chandler was elected to a full term in the legislature in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007. Then a Democrat, he defeated Ernie Vallery, a Democratic attorney and LSU and Tulane Law School graduate (born 1954) of Pollock in Grant Parish, and the Republican Brandon Carnell Vickers (born 1972) of Jena, the seat of La Salle Parish. Chandler polled 9,855 votes (64 percent) to 1,719 (11 percent) for Vallery and 3,768 (25 percent) for Vickers.
Defeat in 2011
Shortly before the beginning of the 2011 special legislative session, Chandler switched to Republican affiliation, a move presumably motivated by the increasing Republican nature of his district. Beginning in 2012, District 22 encompassed all of Grant Parish, most of LaSalle Parish, and parts of Natchitoches, Red River, and Winn parishes. The small portion from northern Rapides Parish has been extracted from District 22.
In the general election held on November 19, 2011, new Republican Billy Chandler was unseated by the Independent Terry Brown. Chandler polled 5,465 votes (47.6 percent) to Brown's 6,015 ballots (52.4 percent).
In the primary held on October 22, 2011, Chandler had led a three-candidate field with 5,790 votes (40.8 percent). Brown trailed with 4,724 votes (33.3 percent). Republican James Timothy "Tim" Murphy polled the remaining but critical 3,666 votes (25.9 percent).
Murphy is a Natchitoches businessman who graduated in 1970 from Montgomery High School in Montgomery and thereafter attended Northwestern State University for three years. Murphy called himself "The Real Conservative" in the race, noting that Chandler "switched from a Democrat to a Republican after he saw that the new district would be very conservative. I have a problem with that, and you should too."
Terry Brown was sworn into the District 22 seat on January 9, 2012. In addition to Chandler, two other north Louisiana Republicans faced with redistricting woes were unseated in the November 19 general election, Rick Nowlin of Natchitoches and Sam Little of Bastrop in Morehouse Parish in northeastern Louisiana. Nowlin lost to Kenny Ray Cox, a Mansfield Democrat, and Little to fellow Republican Jay Morris of Monroe.
- Net Detective, People Search
- Chandler seeking reelection to House District 22 seat. Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved on August 26, 2011.
- Louisiana legislative election returns, April 29, 2006. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on August 26, 2011.
- Louisiana legislative election returns, April 1, 2006. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on August 26, 2011.
- Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 30, 2006
- Alexandria Daily Town Talk, December 30, 2005
- Louisiana primary election returns, October 20, 2007. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on August 26, 2011.
- Louisiana general election returns, November 19, 2011. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on November 20, 2011.
- Louisiana primary election returns, October 22, 2011. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on October 22, 2011.
- Tim Murphy Campaign Site, Facebook