Last modified on April 9, 2022, at 00:28

Joe McPherson

William Joseph
"Joe" McPherson, Jr.

Louisiana State Senator
In office
January 1984 – January 1996
Preceded by Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr.
Succeeded by B. G. Dyess
In office
Preceded by B. G. Dyess
Succeeded by Rick Gallot

Born December 18, 1950
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Karen McPherson
Children Joe McPherson, III
Residence Woodworth, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
Alma mater Northwestern State University

Louisiana State University

Occupation Businessman

William Joseph McPherson, Jr. , known as Joe McPherson (born December 18, 1950),[1] is a Democratic former member of the Louisiana State Senate from Woodworth, a small community south of Alexandria in Rapides Parish. McPherson's service extended from 1984 to 1996 and 2000 to 2012, when his last term expired.[2]


McPherson graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and also attended Louisiana State University in the capital city of Baton Rouge. His business activities include retail, commercial property, and health care facilities.[3] He and his wife, Karen, have one son, Joe, III.[4]

State senate elections

McPherson was first elected to the Senate in 1983, when he resided in Pineville. He unseated incumbent fellow Democrat Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr., who subsequently served from 1986 to 2006 as the mayor of Alexandria. Randolph's defeat came in the same election cycle that Edwin Edwards staged his gubernatorial comeback for a third nonconsecutive term against incumbent Republican David C. Treen. Another reformer defeated for reelection to the state Senate was Dan Richey, then of Ferriday in Concordia Parish and later a resident of Baton Rouge.

In 1987, McPherson defeated Jock Scott, a Democrat-turned-Republican and an outgoing member of the Louisiana House of Representatives who sought to move up to the Senate, and former Senator Cecil R. Blair of Lecompte in south Rapides Parish who was seeking a comeback, having been defeated for the seat in 1975 by Ned Randolph.[5] McPherson won again on November 16, 1991, over the Republican Robert W. Bates, 23,428 votes (56.8 percent) to 17,819 (43.2 percent). [6] Three other Democratic candidates, including state Representative Charles R. Herring, then of Alexandria, and singer Jay Chevalier, had been eliminated in the primary election held a month earlier on October 19. [7]

McPherson did not seek a fourth consecutive term in 1995. Voters chose the conservative Democrat B. G. Dyess, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who had been the Rapides Parish registrar of voters from 1964 to 1988. When Dyess did not seek a second term in 1999, McPherson returned to claim the seat once again, having defeated the Republican state Representative Randy Wiggins of Pineville. [8]

McPherson was reelected in 2003 and 2007 by wide margins in each election over his fellow Democrat Jerry M. Guillory, who had also run in the 1999 McPherson-Wiggins race.[9] McPherson was ineligible to seek a fourth consecutive Senate term in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 22, 2011. In all, he served a total of six full terms in the Senate and was succeeded by the African-American outgoing state Representative Rick Gallot of Lincoln Parish. who polled just over 50 percent of the vote in the primary. After the 2010 census, District 29 was reconfigured to include the black communities in seven parishes: Bienville, Grant, Jackson, Natchitoches, Rapides, and Winn.[10]

Other campaigns

In the meantime, McPherson lost an election for the United States House of Representatives in 1990 and twice for the Louisiana Public Service Commission, in the primary on October 21, 1995, and in a special election on April 4, 2009. In 1990, McPherson, then residing in Pineville, challenged Republican U.S. Representative Clyde Holloway, a conservative from Forest Hill in south Rapides Parish in the since disbanded 8th congressional district.

Holloway won the 1990 race but was himself narrowly unseated in 1992 in a revised districting plan by a fellow Republican, Richard Hugh Baker of Baton Rouge.

In 1995, McPherson did not seek a fourth term in the Senate but instead challenged state Representative Dale Sittig of Eunice for the District 4 seat on the Public Service Commission. Sittig polled 141,473 votes (52.8 percent) to McPherson's 126,452 (47.2 percent). Sittig cemented his margin with comfortable wins in his own St. Landry Parish as well as Evangeline, Acadia, and Calcasieu parshes. Surprisingly, McPherson won his own Rapides Parish by fewer than two thousand votes.[11]

Thirteen years later, Sittig resigned on September 15, 2008, from the PSC to accept the appointment from Governor Bobby Jindal to the Louisiana Offshore Terminal Authority. McPherson then entered the special election for the PSC seat that Sittig had vacated. His rivals were Republican Clyde Holloway, whom he had opposed for Congress in 1990, and the Democrat-turned-Republican former State Representative Gil Pinac of Crowley. Though he had predicted a solid victory on his website and trailed Holloway in the first round of balloting by only 648 raw votes (less than 1 percent), primarily because of a strong showing in Lake Charles,[12] McPherson withdrew from the runoff election. Holloway thus claimed the PSC seat, his first elected position since 1993, when he left Congress.[13] In the meantime, Holloway lost attempts to return to the U.S. House in 1994, 1996, and 2002, and to be elected lieutenant governor in 2003 on an ill-fated ticket with former PSC member James A. "Jay" Blossman, who had left the commission by the time Holloway won the former Sittig seat.

Senatorial voting record

McPherson was an ally of organized labor in the Senate, but his ratings from the pro-business interest group, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, reached nearly 60 percent. The Louisiana National Federation of Independent Business ranked McPherson at 22 percent in support of its goals. Social conservatives often oppose him, but he has ranked nearly 80 percent in a rating from the Louisiana Family Forum.[14]

In December 2017, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards appointed McPherson to serve on the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for a term extending to 2023.[15]


  1. "William McPherson, December 1950". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved June 24, 2017
  2. Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2004, pp. 96-97" (PDF). [1] Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2009
  3. "Senator Joe McPherson, District 29,", retrieved September 15, 2009; no longer on-line.
  4. "Joe McPherson Shows Strong Lead in PSC Race" (PDF). [2] Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  5. Primary election returns, October 24, 1987, Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 24, 2011
  6. General election returns, November 19, 1991, Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 24, 2011
  7. Primary election returns, October 19, 1991, Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved December 29, 2014
  8. Primary election returns, October 23, 1999, Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 24, 2011
  9. Primary election returns, October 20, 2007, Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 24, 2011
  10. Primary election returns, October 22, 2011, Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 24, 2011
  11. Primary election returns". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 19, 1995. Retrieved June 25, 2017
  12. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, April 4, 2009.
  13. "Senator drops out of runoff for PSC", New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 14, 2009, p. B2
  14. "Project Vote Smart: The Voter's Self-Defense System". [3]. Retrieved September 16, 2009
  15. "Gov. John Bel Edwards Appoints Joe McPherson to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission," December 18, 2017 [4], accessed August 10, 2019