John Neely Kennedy
|John Neely Kennedy|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||David Vitter|
Louisiana State Treasurer
January 10, 2000 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Kenneth "Ken" Duncan|
|Succeeded by||Ron Henson (interim)|
|Born|| November 21, 1951|
|Resting place||Democrat-turned Republican (2007)|
|Spouse(s)||Rebecca Stulb Kennedy|
|Alma mater|| Vanderbilt University|
University of Virginia
Magdalen College, Oxford
John Neely Kennedy (born November 21, 1951) is an attorney and politician who is the junior United States Senator from Louisiana, with service since January 3, 2017. A former Democrat who switched parties in 2007, he was his state's treasurer from 2000 to 2017.
Kennedy's 2016 landslide victory for the Senate over the Democrat Foster Lonnie Campbell, Jr., of Bossier Parish was in sharp contrast to the two losing races that he had made for the Senate in 2004 as a Democrat against Republican David Vitter and in 2008 as a Republican against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. When Vitter did not seek a third term in the Senate in 2016, after he lost a race for governor in 2015 to the Democrat John Bel Edwards, Kennedy launched his third bid for the position. He had mended fences with Vitter, whom he supported in the gubernatorial race, and Vitter backed Kennedy as his successor.
In 1988, Kennedy first entered politics as the special legal counsel for incoming Governor Buddy Roemer, a Democrat who switched parties in 1991. He returned to the private practice of law until 1996, when Governor Mike Foster, another Democrat-turned-Republican, appointed Kennedy secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
Though born in southwestern Mississippi, Kennedy was reared in Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish, near the capital city of Baton Rouge. He resides in Madisonville in St. Tammany Parish is suburban New Orleans, sixty-six miles from Baton Rouge.
Senator Kennedy endorsed his fellow St. Tammany Parish resident, Republican former state Representative John Schroder in the special election runoff held on November 18, 2017, to choose Kennedy's successor as state treasurer. Schroder won his race for treasurer.
Consideration of gubernatorial candidacy in 2019
In March 2018, Kennedy accused Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards of attempting to tax the state into prosperity. Kennedy said that believes Louisiana voters as a whole do believe there is a state fiscal crisis. Edwards' office disputed Kennedy's criticism and said the former state treasurer has no solutions for state financial problems.
In June 2018, Kennedy even called upon Governor John Bel Edwards to step down from his position and turn the office over to Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, a Moderate Republican, who declined to support Edwards' 2019 Republican opponent, Eddie Rispone. Kennedy was critical of Edwards' repeated calling of special legislative sessions to obtain more tax increases to close a state budget deficit. Kennedy maintains spending must first be reduced before higher taxes should be considered. Edwards' office called Kennedy's demand "absurd." Kennedy's opposition to Edwards drew the scrutiny of the liberal Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper, which claimed the U.S. senator is using his office as "a platform for politically absurd suggestions" and should instead "focus on what is really important to those that elected him. The U. S. Senate, Kennedy's ostensible workplace, hasn't exactly been a model of accomplishment lately. If the senator is worried about the lack of political leadership these days, he should start by looking into the mirror."
In August 2018, Kennedy criticized Edwards in regard to criminal justice overhaul. Kennedy said that Edwards advocated a "soft approach" to dangerous prisoners. Kennedy noted that he had warned that early prison releases backed by Edwards would lead to murders: "it was inevitable." Kennedy said that Edwards "just thinks these guys are sick and confused. I think a lot of them are bad." Kennedy sent a letter to President Trump outlining the senator's opposition to Edwards' criminal justice policies. Sheriff Steve Prator of Caddo Parish similarly disagreed with Edwards' criminal justice reforms, approved in a bipartisan fashion by th3e legislature. As the disagreement with Prator escalated, Edwards stopped the pending appointment of Mrs. Prator to a seat on the Red River Waterway board of commissioners formerly held by the late Rogers M. Prestridge of Shreveport. Kennedy has strongly defended Prator in the dispute with Edwards, who named Mike Deville of Rapides Parish to fill the vacancy. Kennedy said that he believes Edwards rejected Carolyn Prator's appointment because of the sheriff's earlier criticism of the governor's justice reforms. Kennedy cited the African-American Democratic state Senator Gregory Tarver of Shreveport, who was quoted in The Baton Rouge Advocate as having said that Edwards told him he was rejecting the Carolyn Prator appointment because of her husband's opposition to the criminal justice reforms.
Despite his previous criticisms of Governor Edwards, Kennedy announced on December 3, 2018, that he would not run for governor in the nonpartisan blanket primary in 2019, when Edwards won his second term. For months earlier, Kennedy had been mentioned as a prospective gubernatorial candidate. His decision leaves only the Baton Rouge Republican businessman Eddie Rispone and U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham of Richland Parish in the race to unseat Edwards.
In 2019, Kennedy endorsed conservative Republican Robert Mills for the District 36 seat in the Louisiana State Senate based about Bossier City and Minden, rather than incumbent Moderate Republican Ryan Gatti, a close friend of Governor John Bel Edwards.
- Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, (Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000), isbn=0-9700156-0-7, p. 247
- Will Sentell (March 6, 2018). U.S. Sen. John Kennedy blisters Gov. John Bel Edwards, says voters doubt fiscal crisis. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on August 11, 2018.
- Elizabeth Crisp (June 12, 2018). Sen. John Kennedy: John Bel Edwards should resign; governor's office says that's 'absurd'. Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on June 13, 2018.
- Our Views: John Kennedy worried about lack of leadership? He should look into the mirror (commentary). Baton Rouge Advocate (June 12, 2018). Retrieved on June 13, 2018.
- Will Sentell (August 8, 2018). U. S. Senator Kennedy, Governor Edwards renew dispute on merits of criminal justice overhaul. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on August 11, 2018.
- John E. Settle, Jr. (August 16, 2018). Gov. Edwards plays politics to deny Caddo Parish a waterway commission seat. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on August 30, 2018.
- Greg Hilburn. Kennedy accuses Edwards of vendetta against Caddo sheriff. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on September 16, 2018.
- Breaking: Kennedy won't run for governor. The Shreveport Times (December 3, 2018).