J. Bennett Johnston, Jr.
|John Bennett Johnston, Jr.|
November 14, 1972 – January 3, 1997
|Preceded by||Elaine Edwards (interim for Allen J. Ellender)|
|Succeeded by||Mary Landrieu|
Louisiana State Senator for
Caddo Parish (at-large)
1968 – May 1972
|Preceded by|| B. H. "Johnny" Rogers|
Jackson Beauregard Davis
Louisiana State Representative for Caddo Parish (at-large)
May 1964 – 1968
|Preceded by||Wellborn Jack|
|Succeeded by||At-large delegation|
|Born|| June 10, 1932|
Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
|Spouse(s)||Mary Gunn Johnston|
|Children|| Four children|
Son-law Tim Roemer
|Alma mater|| Washington and Lee University|
United States Military Academy
Louisiana State University School of Law
United States Army (1956-1959)
Prior to his Senate tenure, Johnston was from 1968 to 1972 a state senator and from 1964 to 1968 a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Shreveport in Caddo Parish. He ran unsuccessfully in the fall of 1971 for the Louisiana governorship, losing his party's nomination to then U.S. Representative Edwin Edwards of Crowley in south Louisiana.
In his first election to the U.S. Senate in 1972, Johnston challenged the incumbent Allen J. Ellender of Terrebonne Parish in the Democratic primary. Ellender died during the campaign, and Johnston easily won the party nomination and then defeated Republican Ben C. Toledano of New Orleans and former Governor John J. McKeithen, a Democrat from Caldwell Parish running as an Independent. In 1978, to gain his second term, Johnston defeated then State Representative Woody Jenkins of Baton Rouge, a strong conservative who tried to paint Johnston as an out-of-touch liberal. In 1990, Johnston defeated then State Representative David Duke of Jefferson Parish, a former figure in the Ku Klux Klan, who ran as a Republican but without the backing of the state's GOP apparatus. State Senator Ben T. Bagert of New Orleans, a Democrat-turned-Republican, also ran for the Senate that year but dropped out in the last week of the campaign because of weak poll standings. U.S. District Judge Robert Bork made three campaign appearances on Bagert's behalf. Johnston had been among a number of southern Democrats who in 1987 helped to kill U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan's nomination of Judge Bork to the United States Supreme Court.
Johnston served as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee during a period when energy issues dominated the nation's agenda. During his tenure, his senatorial colleagues from Louisiana were Russell Long and John Breaux. Johnston was so powerful in his position that he was able to designate Mary Landrieu, a fellow Democrat, as his successor beginning in January 1997. After defeating Jenkins in a disputed outcome, Landrieu held the Johnston seat for eighteen years until her defeat in 2014 by the Republican Bill Cassidy.
Johnston's son-in-law is former U.S. Representative Tim Roemer of Indiana.
- Bob Mann, Johnston's press secretary in the 1990 reelection bid