E. L. "Bubba" Henry

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Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry​

Louisiana State Representative for District 13 (Jackson, Bienville,
and Ouachita parishes)​
In office
1968 ​ – 1980​
Preceded by Marvin T. Culpepper
Len Lacy
Succeeded by Jamie Fair​

Speaker of the Louisiana
House of Representatives
In office
1972​ – 1980​
Preceded by John Sidney Garrett
Succeeded by John Joseph Hainkel, Jr.​

Louisiana
Commissioner of Administration ​
In office
1980​ – 1984​
Preceded by Charles E. Roemer, II

Born February 10, 1936​
Jonesboro, Jackson Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Francis S. Henry​

Parents:
Dallas Edgerton and Ruby Lewis Henry

Alma mater Jonesboro-Hodge High School

Baylor University
Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert School of Law

Occupation Attorney, Lobbyist

in Baton Rouge Louisiana​

Religion Southern Baptist
Notes
  • After his public service, Henry became a sought-after lobbyist and partner of the in fluential law firm, Adams and Reese.​

Edgerton L. Henry, known as E. L. "Bubba" Henry (born February 10, 1936), is a Baton Rouge attorney, lobbyist, and partner of the high-powered firm Adams and Reese in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who served as a Democrat state representatives from 1968 to 1980. From 1972 to 1980, he was the Speaker of the House, the choice of incoming Governor Edwin Edwards.

Though he was considered "reform"-minded, some conservatives questioned Henry's commitment to real reform. In 1979, Henry finished in a weak fifth place in the nonpartisan blanket primary in his bid to succeed Edwards as governor. Thereafter, he was commissioner of administration for the new governor, Republican David C. Treen, then of Metairie in Jefferson Parish. After Treen left office, Henry retired from elective and appointive office to concentrate on his law practice and lobbying activities. He joined Adams and Reese in 1987. One of his major clients is State Farm Insurance, and he lobbies on behalf of the payday lending industry in Louisiana as a representative of the Community Financial Services Association of America.​

One of his colleagues at Adams and Reese is former state Insurance Commissioner J. Robert Wooley.[1]

Background

The son of Dallas Edgerton Henry (1911-1986) and the former Ruby Lewis (1913-1990). Henry had an older sister, Mona H. Durham (1934-2004) and a younger brother who died before his second birthday, Preston Luther Henry (1942-1943).[2]

Henry graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957 from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Thereafter, Henry procured his law degree from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge.

Political life

Henry won his legislative seat on February 6, 1968, with a solid victory over his Republican opponent and personal friend, businessman Bob Reese of Jonesboro, later of Natchitoches Reese also ran unsuccessfully in 1972 for the state Senate against the Democrat Paul Foshee.[3] The House seat in Jackson Parish was vacated by a one-term member, Marvin Tandy Culpepper, Sr. (1908-1970), an engineer and farmer from Jonesboro.[4]

In his first term in the legislature, Henry, at thirty-two, led a group of younger members who advocated reforms. Called the "Young Turks," the members urged spending cuts, a decrease in the number of state employees, and reducing the amount of bonded indebtedness. Henry stopped lobbyists from going onto the House floor, and he opened up the committee process, but overall the priorities of the legislature are usually tied to those of the institutionally "strong" governor.​ Not until 2016, when Republican Taylor Barras of New Iberia took the Speaker's gavel did the state House ignore the choice of the incoming governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards.

In addition to Henry, the "Young Turks" included then Representative Robert G. Jones of Lake Charles, son of former Governor Sam Houston Jones. Jones would later become a state senator and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1975. Other "Young Turks" from around the state who participated in this session were the late John Joseph Hainkel, Jr. (1938-2005), Ben Bagert, and Thomas Casey, all of New Orleans, P. J. Mills of Shreveport, Ralph Warren "Buzzy" Graham of Alexandria, and Don Williamson of Vivian in north Caddo Parish.​

Henry won the Speaker's position after John Sidney Garrett of Haynesville in northern Claiborne Parish was defeated in the primary by Louise Brazzel Johnson (1924-2002). Representative Frank Fulco of Shreveport was attempting to win commitments for Speaker too, but he was unseated in the general election by the Republican Arthur William "Art" Sour, Jr. (1924-2000).​

Henry's greatest legislative defeat

​ Henry's most conspicuous defeat as Speaker of the House occurred in 1976, when the Equal Rights Amendment was rejected by the House Civil Law Committee. At the national level, thirty-five of the required thirty-eight states had ratified ERA, and advocates of the amendment were targeting Louisiana, Florida, and Illinois as the final three. Social conservative groups, many led by Phyllis Schlafly opposed the amendment, which they believed would federalize family law and pre-empt the states in areas dealing with the family.​[5]

Henry had placed what he believed was a majority of ERA backers on the Civil Law Committee. One of those was his future law partner with Adams and Reese in Baton Rouge, Sam A. LeBlanc III, a Metairie Democrat. LeBlanc, who served in the legislature from 1972 to 1980, was the committee chairman. Previously, the committee had given ERA an "unfavorable" report, which had rendered it nearly impossible for the measure to be passed on the House floor. There were believed to have been nine ERA backers on the committee, based either on their past votes in the previous legislative session or on how the lawmaker had stood on ERA in the 1975 election campaign. There were only five ERA opponents on the panel, including Dan Richey, then a young Ferriday Democrat but later a Republican political activist in Baton Rouge. Supporters expected ERA would receive a "fair" hearing and a "favorable" report to the full House.​[5]

ERA generated nearly as much attention from legislators as the simultaneous consideration of the successful right-to-work law. Supporters of the amendment seemed to think that it was a foregone conclusion that Speaker Henry had found a way to get the amendment out of the previously "obstructionist" committee. Meanwhile, a small group of social conservatives, unknown to Henry or LeBlanc, delivered speeches in parts of the state where they sought to switch the votes of four Democratic representatives on the committee. These lawmakers were Jock Scott of Alexandria, Michael F. Thompson of Lafayette, Lane Anderson Carson of New Orleans, and Abel John McNamara (1936-2014) of Metairie. It was believed that the Pentecostal Church, which opposed ERA and which was influential in Rapides Parish, convinced Scott to reverse his position. Pro-life and anti-feminist groups in Lafayette persuaded Thompson to oppose the ERA, and conservative women in Jefferson Parish pleaded with McNamara, later a Ronald W. Reagan-appointed U.S. district judge, to switch his vote as well.​[5]

Gubernatorial politics

​ Henry represented District 13, which included his native Jonesboro in Jackson Parish, also the birthplace and burial site of former Governor Jimmie Davis. In 1972, Henry campaigned for Edwin Edwards, who faced an unusually strong Republican gubernatorial opponent in David Treen. Jackson Parish reelected Henry to the legislature, but it supported Treen for governor in the general election held on February 1 of that year.​

In 1979, after he had lost out in the primary, Henry endorsed Republican Treen, but Jackson Parish again defied Henry's suggestion and voted for Treen's unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial challenger, Louis Lambert, a public service commissioner from Ascension Parish near Baton Rouge. In his 1979 gubernatorial run, Henry received 135,769 votes (9.9 percent). His manager was a future governor, Buddy Roemer of Bossier Parish. Henry and Roemer had become friends when both were members of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1973. Henry was a chairman of the convention and was highly regarded for his ability to develop consensus on divisive issues.

In 1980, as his legislative term ended, Henry became Treen's commissioner of administration, a high position in state government, which had been filled under Edwards by none other than Roemer's often controversial father, Charles E. Roemer, II. As commissioner of administration, Henry pushed to fruition the plans and blueprints for the State Capitol Complex and the consolidation of state offices within the Capitol environs.​

In 1982, commissioner of administration Henry told the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee that former Governor Edwards had created a "smoke screen ... to divert attention from his own 'sweetheart deals' for his political friends," a reference to controversy which arose in the financing of a new baseball stadium for the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Henry though a Democrat worked for Treen's unsuccessful reelection attempt, but he had been an Edwards backer in 1972, when Treen first lost to Edwards.[6]

Henry's legacy

Henry's affiliations include the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Public Affairs Research Council, and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.​ In 1974, Henry was honored in the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., by President Gerald Ford, who cited his "exemplary leadership," particularly in reference to his chairmanship of the constitutional convention that met in 1973.​

In the fall of 2001, Louisiana Life magazine named Henry one of twenty persons who have "most influenced public policy in Louisiana during the past twenty years." And that designation came after his tenure in the legislature had ended.​

In 2003, Henry lent support to an unsuccessful effort by a group attempting to convince President George W. Bush to release Edwin Edwards from prison. "He has been ruined. There is no purpose to be served by his sitting in prison for ten years," said the former Louisiana Speaker. Edwards was convicted in May 2000 on conspiracy, racketeering, and money-laundering charges following a four-month trial.​

Henry and his wife, Frances S. Henry (born April 30, 1937), attend the University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, where Henry has taught the young adults Sunday school class for many years. In 2006, on the occasion of Henry's 70th birthday, the state House expressed "enduring gratitude" for his "outstanding contributions to the state." The House resolution also said that Henry "lives his life based on his faith in his Creator." Mrs. Henry is a former vice chairman of the Louisiana Board of Regents, which governs all state colleges and universities, except for LSU.​

On January 28, 2012, Henry, along with his friend Thomas Jerald "Jerry" Huckaby, a former member of the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana's 5th congressional district, and Fred Baden, former mayor of Pineville, and the late Adras LaBorde, former managing editor of The Alexandria Town Talk, was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield. A banquet at the Winnfield Civic Center honored the annual inductees, three living and three deceased.[7][8]

References

  1. Former Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance - J. Robert Wooley Joins Adams and Reese. adamsandreese.com (February 20, 2006). Retrieved on JOctober 21, 2019.
  2. Dallas Edgerton Henry obituary. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on October 21, 2019.
  3. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election returns, February 6, 1968, and February 1, 1972.
  4. Culpepper Family Tree. gen.culpepper.com. Retrieved on February 2, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Information taken from an interview with Dan Richey, former state representative and state senator, 2010.
  6. "Bubba Henry Says Edwards Creating a 'Smoke Screen,'" [[Minden Press-Herald[[, March 25, 1982, p. 1.
  7. Avoyelles Today, January 4, 2012.
  8. La. Political Hall inducts former Pineville mayor, 5 others. The Alexandria Town Talk (January 29, 2012). Retrieved on January 30, 2012.

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