Gene Reynolds

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Harlie Eugene "Gene"
Reynolds, Jr.


Louisiana State Representative
for District 10
(Webster and Bossier parishes)
In office
January 2012 – June 4, 2018
Preceded by Jean Doerge
Succeeded by Royce Wayne McMahen

Louisiana House Democratic Leader
In office
December 2015 – March 2018
Preceded by John Bel Edwards
Succeeded by Robert Johnson

Louisiana State Parks Director
Incumbent
Assumed office 
June 4, 2018
Preceded by Robert Jocelyn Barham

Born December 28, 1950
Shreveport, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Martha Nell Moore Reynolds
Religion Southern Baptist

Harlie Eugene Reynolds, Jr., known as Gene Reynolds (born December 28, 1950),[1] is a retired teacher and school principal from Dubberly in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, who is a Democrat former state representative for District 10, which encompasses all of Webster Parish, including the parish seat of Minden, and one precinct from neighboring Bossier Parish. From 2015 to 2018, Reynolds was the House Democratic Leader, having succeeded in the legislative position John Bel Edwards, who was elected governor. Reynolds steeped down from the leadershp near the end of a special legislative session called by Governor Edwards. He indicated that he "is tired" and needs time to devote himself to other matters.[2]

On May 17, 2018, Reynolds confirmed that he would vacate his House seat on June 4 at the end of a special session. He instead became state parks director under the office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, a Moderate Republican. In addition to the twenty-two state parks, he will oversee the eighteen historic sites in the state.[3]

A native of Shreveport, Reynolds[4] won a low-turnout general election held on November 19, 2011, when he defeated the Republican candidate, Jerri Lynn Ray de Pingre of Minden, a former ""Miss Minden" and another former educator, 4,232 (54.7 percent) to 3,508 (45.3 percent).[5] De Pingre is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Ray and the wife of Benny dePingre, whom she married in 1981.

In the legislative race, de Pingre carried the backing of Republican then U.S. Representative John Fleming, also of Minden. De Pingre later served a stint as the Minden Chamber of Commerce. Two other Republicans, Gerald Holland of Springhill and Ronnie Broughton of Minden, who later joined the Constitution Party, were eliminated in the race for the House seat in the October 22, 2011, nonpartisan blanket primary.[6]

Reynolds succeeded the term-limited Democrat, Jean Doerge of Minden, also a former educator who had served since 1998, when she won a special election to succeed her late husband, Everett Doerge. Reynolds and his wife, the former Martha Nell Moore, were long-time employees of the Webster Parish School Board before they temporarily relocated to Cameron Parish in southwestern Louisiana. They returned in 2010 to Webster Parish and reside in Dubberly near their son, Dustin Wade Reynolds, and his family. They also have another son, Cole Reynolds.[7]

In his first legislative session, Reynolds voted against proposals to increase the number of charter schools, to establish school vouchers and to amend the state's teacher tenure policy.

Columnist Jeffrey Dennis Sadow of Louisiana State University at Shreveport attributed Reynolds' decision to vacate the leadership post to the Legislative Black Caucus. Sadow writes:

[By 2018], the Black Caucus treated Reynolds as if he didn’t exist. The caucus intransigently refused to back any deal, designed to head off a budgetary crisis for next fiscal year, that featured keeping the state sales tax at an elevated level and didn’t include income tax changes that would have the effect of raising collections from middle-class-and-above filers.

Republicans had stated raising income taxes would be off the table and also insisted on spending and transparency reforms. Reynolds thought he had a deal ... for a three-year renewal of the 2016 sales tax hike at a quarter of its expiring value, but the Black Caucus would not budge, even after Republicans dropped demand after demand: they jettisoned all spending reforms and said they would raise taxes on all but lower-income households, although not to the degree that the Caucus wanted.

But it wasn’t enough, and this scuttled the session without any meaningful revenue-raising. Both the sales tax and income tax measure would have proceeded to the Senate had almost all Democrats voted for each, but enough caucus members rejected the measures to send these to defeat.

This showed just how powerless was Reynolds, and at the session’s end he again resigned, this time apparently for good. Once more, he blamed conservatives for not voting new substantial dollars into state coffers.[8]

House successor chosen

Springhill veterinarian Royce Wayne McMahen (born October 3, 1954), a Democrat-turned-Republican,[9] was the only candidate seeking to succeed Reynolds in the upcoming special election on November 6, 2018. In his announcement of candidacy from the steps of the Webster Parish Courthouse in Minden, McMahen listed the principal issues as rural health, community safety, natural resources, jobs, and cooperation in the legislature.[10] He is the only surviving son of Royce Lafayette McMahen (1923-1999), also a Springhill veterinarian and the Democratic sheriff of Webster Parish from 1980 to 1996.

Columnist Jeffrey Sadow predicted that McMahen, based on background and key supporters, including Reynolds and others favoring an increase in the gasoline tax, may be a RINO when he finally takes the House seat. Sadow explained his view:

Several RINOs populate both chambers of the Legislature, individuals who exploit both Louisiana’s eroding populist political culture and conservatism on social issues. Typically, RINOs emphasize issue preferences such as being pro-life and against gun control and make personal connections with constituents through service to them. That especially includes influential people wanting government to tax more so it can spend more, preferably on contracts for them, and allows RINOs to shovel more money to local government and state bureaucracy back home. Then they can boast about all of the pork and jobs they have provided to secure reelection.[11]

References

  1. Harlie Reynolds. Mylife.com. Retrieved on September 12, 2017.
  2. Greg Hilburn. House Democratic Chair: 'I'm not mad; I'm just tired'. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on March 5, 2018.
  3. Greg Hilburn. Meet the new state parks director. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on May 17, 2018.
  4. Representative Gene Reynolds. votesmart.org. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  5. General election returns, November 19, 2011. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  6. Primary election returns, October 22, 2011. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  7. Gene Reynolds for State Representative. facebook.com. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  8. The Democrat Caucus left Reynolds long before the special session. Minden Press-Herald (March 14, 2018). Retrieved on March 19, 2018.
  9. Royce McMahen, 71075, October 1954. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on June 8, 2018.
  10. Caleb Daniel (June 7, 2018). McMahen Running for State Rep. The Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on June 8, 2018.
  11. Jeffrey Dennis Sadow (July 25, 2018). GOP takes La. House seat, sorta. The Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on July 26, 2018.