|John Hamilton Cade, Jr.|
1976 – 1978
|Preceded by||James H. Boyce|
|Succeeded by||George Despot |
|Born|| July 19, 1928|
Monroe, Ouachita Parish
|Died|| January 8, 1988 (aged 59)|
Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
|Spouse(s)||Marie Howell Cade (1932–2006)|
|Children|| Martha Morse Cade (born 1963)
John Overton Cade (1966-2019)
(1) Twice defeated for local offices, John Cade made his mark in politics as Louisiana Republican state chairman, having worked to elect David C. Treen as governor in 1979 but having failed miserably to reelect Treen in 1983.
John Hamilton Cade, Jr. (July 9, 1928 – January 8, 1988), was an Alexandria businessman and a pioneer in the development of the modern American Republican Party in Louisiana. Though he never held elected office himself, Cade was the GOP national committeeman and thereafter the Louisiana party chairman from 1976–1978. He was the campaign manager on several occasions for his close friend, David C. Treen, the first Louisiana Republican since Reconstruction to win election to the United States House of Representatives (1972) and thereafter to the governorship (1979).
Cade was born in Monroe to John Hamilton Cade, Sr. (1894–1981), and the former Carrie Flournoy (1895–1982). He and his father were owners of the former Alexandria Feed and Seed Co., which the senior Cade established in 1933. Cade married the former Marie Howell (November 26, 1932 – September 17, 2006); they had two children.
Early Republican campaigns
In 1964, Cade was a delegate to the Republican National Convention which met in San Francisco, California. to nominate Barry Goldwater for president. It was at the Cow Palace conclave that he first met David C. Treen, a fellow Louisiana delegate.
In 1966, Cade was a Republican candidate for a then at-large seat on the Rapides Parish School Board. The entire GOP slate was defeated. Two years later, Cade ran unsuccessfully for the Rapides Parish Police Jury, the equivalent to county commission in other states. Cade said that he never expected to be elected to local office: "I realized that I could do my best work behind the scenes."
Cade managed Treen's House races in the 3rd congressional district in 1972, 1974, 1976, and 1978, though Cade himself resided in the since defunct 8th congressional district. The campaigns were herculean tasks at the time; the 1972 Treen victory being the first Republican breakthrough in modern Louisiana history, and the 1974 race mired in the political fallout from the Watergate affair, which forced President Richard M. Nixon from office.
Cade and Treen split over Reagan and Ford
In the race for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination, Cade supported former California Governor Ronald W. Reagan. Although Treen had backed Reagan at the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, in 1976, he favored Gerald Ford, a Moderate Republican who became the party nominee. Ford had succeeded Nixon as president two years earlier.
Cade turned over the national committeeman's post to Frank Spooner of Monroe, who had lost the 1976 election in Louisiana's 5th congressional district to the Democrat Thomas Jerald "Jerry" Huckaby. Instead Cade succeeded James H. Boyce of Baton Rouge as the state party chairman.
Treen election and administration
Treen held on to his House seat in the elections of 1976 and 1978, and entered the gubernatorial campaign of 1979 to choose a successor to term-limited Governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat. Cade was his campaign manager, and he devoted his activities nearly 24-7 to electing his friend as governor. Frank Spooner recalls how Cade had berated him for not committing immediately to the Treen candidacy. Spooner had favored waiting to see if another candidate, perhaps Treen's U.S. House colleague, William Henson Moore, might also want to run for governor. "I've done a lot for Dave Treen too," Spooner recalled having told Cade.
Cade viewed Treen's narrow victory in 1979 as "a significant turning point in Louisiana politics." He also commended the approximately 15,000 Treen volunteers: "We bucked a tremendous tide. I don't think that ever again that Republicans will meet the same tide of opposition because they are Republicans." Yet four years later, when Cade again wore the hat of campaign manager, he watched in dismay as Treen was unseated by a nearly 2-1 margin by Edwin Edwards.
Cade declined appointment to any state position under Treen but continued as an unpaid advisor and chief aide to the new governor. Cade was also appointed to the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors, having served until 1986.
Ron Gomez, then a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Lafayette and much later a Republican convert, recalls Cade as "quiet, ascerbic, and impersonal, in contrast to the gregarious red-haired, florid-faced William A. Nungesser, then of New Orleans, another long-term Treen friend who was the executive secretary and chief executive assistant to the governor.
In his autobiography, published in 2000, Gomez recalls a meeting with Treen and Cade regarding the proposed but failed Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy, a tax strongly opposed by the oil and natural gas industry. Gomez told Treen of the opposition to CWEL in the Lafayette area, of potential questions of constitutionality in regard to the tax, and of his own personal misgivings:
ade, a cold, ascerbic man who had never given me the time of day in the halls, the elevators or the governor's office, suddenly said, 'All right, Gomez, what do you want?' I was a little stunned with the question, especially coming from a self-professed arch-conservative, good-government type such as John Cade. I simply said, 'Mr. Cade, you can't build a bridge high enough or a highway long enough to make me vote for this bill.'"
Cade died of an apparent heart attack at the age of fifty-nine. He was a member of the Christian Science Church. David Treen called his friend the unsung hero of the Louisiana Republican Party. Those close to him know how much he's given. But because of his nature, he didn't [sic] ever blow his horn."
Then U.S. Representative Clyde Holloway recalled that Cade had "in my early days been very, very helpful to me. He was a Republican when you could hold a convention in a telephone booth." Holloway, who served in Congress from 1987 to 1993, said that Cade came a long way toward achieving his goal of a two-party system in Louisiana. "The ball is definitely rolling. If only he'd had a few more years . . . to be around to see it," Holloway said.
Alexandria then GOP leader Charles Harrison Trent (born 1946), who later relocated to Lafayette, declared that Cade was "personally responsible for the growth of the Republican Party in this state. . . . All of us [Republicans] have always leaned on John Cade as an advisor and a consultant in so many things."
Former state Representative John W. "Jock" Scott of Alexandria, son of the late Judge Nauman Scott, and himself a Democrat-turned-Republican, said that Cade had "good political judgment and was reliable. . . . [Cade] has been a source of real common sense. [The Republican Party] is prone to a lot of personality conflicts, and he brought some maturity to those small-party type disadvantages. He was able to see all the personalities involved and move the party forward."
Cade is commemorated by the John H. Cade, Jr., Scholarship Fund at Louisiana State University at Alexandria, on which Scott was later a member of the history department faculty.
- John Overton Cade. Alexandria Town Talk (July 17, 2019). Retrieved on October 10, 2019.
- Stacy V. Sullivan, "GOP Stalwart Cade Dies," The Alexandria Town Talk, January 10, 1988.
- Billy Hathorn, "Otto Passman, Jerry Huckaby, and Frank Spooner: The Louisiana Fifth Congressional District Campaign of 1976", Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, Vol. LIV, No. 3 (Summer 2013), pp. 345-350.
- Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative (Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000), pp. 65, ISBN=0-9700156-0-7
- Ron Gomez, pp. 122–123.