Speedy Long

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Speedy Oteria Long​


U.S. Representative for Louisiana's former 8th congressional district​
In office
January 3, 1965​ – January 3, 1973​
Preceded by Gillis Long
Succeeded by Gillis Long

Louisiana State Senator​
In office
May 1956​ – May 1964

District Attorney for LaSalle Parish
In office
1973–1985

Born June 16, 1928​
LaSalle Parish, Louisiana​
Died October 5, 2006 (aged 78)​
Jena, LaSalle Parish
Resting place ​Magnolia Cemetery in Tullos, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Florence Marie Theriot Long (married 1955-2006, his death)​
Relations Russell Long (cousin)​
Children Felix Field Long

David Theriot Long
Parents:
Felix Franklin and Verda Pendarvis Long​

Alma mater University of Louisiana at Monroe

Northwestern State University
Louisiana State University Law School

Occupation Attorney

United States Navy service
in World War II and Korean War

Religion Southern Baptist

Speedy Oteria Long (June 16, 1928 – October 5, 2006) was an attorney and politician from LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, who was a prominent member of the Long political dynasty. From 1965 to 1973, he was a conservative U.S. Representative for Louisiana's since disbanded 8th congressional district, which was anchored about Alexandria.

Before his congressional tenure, he was a state senator (1956-1964). After he left Congress, Long was elected as district attorney (1973–1985) for the 28th Judicial District, based in Jena. He resumed the practice of law in Jena from 1985 to 2005 but was called back to public service in 1994 when the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed him judge pro tem of the 28th Judicial District Court until a judge could be elected in 1995.

He also ran for governor in the 1971 closed Democratic primary, from which emerged Edwin Edwards as the victor. He ran again for governor in 1987, when Edwards trailed in the nonpartisan blanket primary, withdrew from the general election, and Buddy Roemer became the governor.

Background

Long was born to Felix Franklin Long (1899–1982) and the former Verda Pendarvis (1905–1997) in tiny Tullos, Louisiana, on the La Salle and Winn Parish boundary. His paternal grandfather was Charles Felix Long (1859–1940). Long was named "Speedy" because he was born two months prematurely. His father was the Tullos barber and also a town council member, marshal, and, later, mayor. Speedy Long recalled that his family ate and breathed politics. He joked that he had been reared to regard Huey Pierce Long, Jr., as God Almighty, Earl Kemp Long as Jesus the Son, and 8th district Congressman George Shannon Long as St. Peter. He attended the public schools of La Salle and Winn parishes and graduated from Winnfield High School in 1945, just days before his 17th birthday.

Thereafter, he served in the United States Navy from April 1946 to February 1948. He graduated in 1950 from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then known as Northeast Junior College) and from Northwestern State University (then State College) in Natchitoches in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Long was recalled to active Navy duty during the Korean War from 1951 to 1952. He graduated in 1959 from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, was admitted to the Louisiana bar, and thereafter opened his practice in Jena.

On September 1, 1955, Long married the former Florence Theriot (May 15, 1933– March 3, 2007) of Golden Meadow in Lafourche Parish. She was the daughter of Leopold Theriot and the former Emeline Martin (both 1912-1991). The couple had two sons, Felix Field Long (born 1959) and David Theriot Long (born 1961), both of whom resided in New Roads in Pointe Coupee Parish at the time of their parents' deaths.

State senator at 27

Speedy Long was elected in 1956 at the age of twenty-seven to the Louisiana Senate. In 1960, he was reelected to the now District 32 seat, over the opposition of state Representative Willard Lloyd Rambo, Sr. (1917-1984) of Georgetown in Grant Parish north of Alexandria. Rambo had been Governor Earl Long's legislative floor leader and was married to a member of the Long family, the former Mary Alice Long (born August 1, 1928).

In 1963, Speedy Long did not seek a third term in the state Senate. He first planned to run for governor but instead contested the position of state insurance commissioner held by Rufus D. Hayes. Long ran on a Democratic intra-party ticket headed by his friend John J. McKeithen, a Columbia lawyer and one of the then three state public service commissioners, who successful his party's gubernatorial nomination in a crowded field and then dispatched a determined Republican challenger, Charlton Lyons of Shreveport.

Also on the McKeithen ticket was former Mayor Ashton J. Mouton of Lafayette, who ran for lieutenant governor. Both Long and Mouton lost their races. Long was defeated by Dudley Guglielmo of Baton Rouge. Another candidate in the insurance commissioner race was State Representative Jack M. Dyer of Baton Rouge, a former Bill Dodd ally running on the deLesseps Story Morrison, Sr., intra-party ticket. Mouton lost out to conservative incumbent Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock (1915-1987) of Franklin in St. Mary Parish.

Speedy Long challenges Gillis Long

After Speedy Long vacated his state Senate seat in 1964, he immediately launched a campaign against his third cousin, Gillis Long of Alexandria, for Louisiana's 8th congressional district seat (now part of the 5th district). Four years earlier, in the summer of 1960, Earl Long had won a Democratic primary by a 6,000-vote margin for the seat held by Harold B. McSween of Alexandria and also held prior to 1958 by Long's late brother, George S. Long. When Earl Long died as the Democratic congressional nominee, the nomination reverted to McSween, the choice of the Democratic State Central committee. Two years later, in 1962, Gillis Long unseated McSween in the Democratic primary. Gillis Long had been an unsuccessful gubernatorial contender against John McKeithen in the primary held in December 1963. He was a freshman House member who had not fully consolidated his hold on the district. Therefore, he was most vulnerable to his cousin's challenge. Speedy Long made it clear to voters that he was far different from his cousin Gillis, whom he dubbed a "Washington lawyer." Speedy Long, "just a Jena lawyer," vowed to vote far more conservatively on policy issues than Gillis Long had done in his one term in Congress.

Speedy Long said that he would model many of his votes in accord with north Louisiana Congressmen Joe Waggonner, of Plain Dealing in Bossier Parish and Otto Ernest Passman of Monroe in Ouachita Parish. He pointed out that Gillis Long often voted with the liberal members of the delegation from south Louisiana, specifically, Hale Boggs of New Orleans, James Hobson Morrison, Sr., of Hammond, and even the moderately conservative Edwin Edward Willis of St. Martinville, to expand the scope of the national government at the expense of the states.

Speedy Long upset Gillis Long for the Democratic congressional nomination in the famous "Battle of the Longs." Speedy's margin was some 4,900 votes. Relations between the two cousins were strained for years afterwards. In Congress, Speedy Long did as he had promised, often voting more like a Republican than a Democrat.

The Republican challenge from William Stewart Walker

Speedy Long faced a much stronger Republican candidate than was usually offered in the district because of the popularity in Louisiana of the presidential nominee, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel William Stewart Walker of Winnfield, who had earlier lost a state senate race to W. L. Rambo by a decisive margin, appeared strong as the Republican congressional nominee. At the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California, in fact, Walker secured the endorsement of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Walker won Rapides Parish, which includes Alexandria and Pineville, with 51.4 percent of the vote and nearly won Winn Parish, which was both Walker's home parish as well as the traditional center of the Long dynasty. Walker received 27,735 votes (45.5 percent) to Speedy Long's 33,250 (54.5 percent).

Long in Congress

Speedy Long quickly established his hold on the Eighth District. He hired the lawyer Theodore "Ted" Jones as his first executive assistant, but Jones soon left to join the McKeithen administration. As he had promised, Long voted conservatively in Congress, sometimes in line with the Republican leadership under the direction of a future president, Gerald Ford. Long was reelected to the House in 1966, when he defeated State Representative Larry Parker in the party primary, 1968, and 1970. In the latter year, he defeated in the Democratic primary John K. Snyder, later the mayor of Alexandria, 59,032 to 24,112.

Representative Long served on the Armed Services and the Merchant Marine and Fisheries committees. His subcommittee held hearings in South Vietnam that discovered why the M16 rifle was failing in combat conditions. The Pentagon subsequently authorized changes in design, ammunition, and the cleaning procedures, and the weapon has since performed well. Long was also credited with convincing the Pentagon to designate Fort Polk near Leesville in Vernon Parish as a permanent military installation. He also joined others in the congressional delegation to fight for the development, control, and the navigation of the Red River in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

From 1965 to 1971, one of Long's aides in his Washington office was Thomas "Bud" Brady, later a member from 1976 to 1988 of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Long's own La Salle Parish.

1971 gubernatorial race

In 1971, Speedy Long filed as a Democratic candidate for governor. He entered a huge field that included: Lieutenant Governor "Taddy" Aycock, 70-year-old former Governor Jimmie Davis, fellow Congressman Edwin Washington Edwards of Crowley, two state senators, John G. Schwegmann, a supermarket mogul from Jefferson Parish, and J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., a lawyer from Shreveport, and Speedy Long's competitive and more liberal cousin, Gillis Long. Speedy Long polled only 61,359 votes in that race.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney

Speedy Long decided not to run for the U.S. House again. As a result of redistricting, the Eighth District was geographically enlarged to include culturally Acadian French parishes to the south of Alexandria and to endow it with a higher ratio of liberal voters; additionally, Speedy Long's home parish of LaSalle was switched to the Fifth District, where Otto Passman was entrenched. The change in district apportionment, pushed by Governor Edwards, proved conducive to the return of Gillis Long to the seat that he had lost eight years earlier. Speedy Long instead was elected district attorney of LaSalle Parish, a position that he held for twelve years.

1987 gubernatorial race

In 1987, Speedy Long, then fifty-nine, launched a final campaign for governor. He faced a field of seven opponents in the nonpartisan blanket primary, including incumbent Governor Edwards (the father of the nonpartisan primary), Secretary of State James Harvey "Jim" Brown, originally of Ferriday, three congressmen, Wilbert Joseph "Billy" Tauzin of Lafourche Parish, Robert L. "Bob" Livingston of suburban New Orleans, and Buddy Roemer, III, of Bossier Parish.

Speedy Long polled 18,736 votes (1 percent). In La Salle Parish, he received only 643 ballots from his diehard supporters, but Roemer led even there with 3,540 votes. Roemer (33 percent) and Edwards (28 percent) were slated to compete in the general election, but Edwards withdrew, and Roemer became governor based on his plurality primary showing. Livingston, who had hoped to garner a general election berth based on solid Republican support and then tackle Edwards, instead finished in third place.

Bill Dodd's analysis of Speedy Long

In his Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics, pp. 19–20, former lieutenant governor, state auditor, and superintendent of education William J. "Bill" Dodd described Long as follows:

"Speedy knew his politics and had the usual amount of Long ambition and energy to get ahead. He had something else, something the other Longs didn't have. He had the ability to see things in perspective, and he seems to have made a good self-analysis of his capabilities and desires. He got himself elected to Congress and appeared able to parlay his success into a still bigger office [the governorship].

"Speedy got tired of Washington . . . and wanted to live at home with his family. So he came home voluntarily and hence became a quiet, plodding, and seemingly happy country prosecutor and small-town lawyer in central Louisiana. He may be the only Long who was ever happy . . . "

Later years

Speedy Long resided in Jena and maintained a family law office there until his retirement in 2005. His law partner for ten years was the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jimmie C. Peters. In 1979, Peters ran for the same state Senate seat that Long had held earlier, but he lost out to then fellow Democrat Dan Richey, then of Ferriday in Concordia Parish and later of Baton Rouge.

Long was a member of the First Baptist Church of Jena. He was also affiliated with the American Legion and was a Mason, and a Shriner. He died on the morning of October 5, 2006,[1] at his home in Jena. In addition to his wife, sons, and granddaughter, Shelby Ann Long of Ventress in Pointe Coupee Parish, he was survived by four brothers, Willie F. Long of Jena, Earl K. Long and Steve Long, both of Olla, and Charles Long of Tullos; three sisters, Jo Beth Long Barber of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Sarah Long Allison and Willa Long Freeman, both of Natchitoches. Services were held on October 7, 2006, at the Hixson Brothers Funeral Home in Jena. Judge Peters delivered Long's eulogy. Mrs. Long, also a member of First Baptist Church in Jena and a graduate of Golden Meadow High School, died of a stroke in a Baton Rouge hospice on March 3, 2007, five months after her husband's passing. The Longs are interred at Magnolia Cemetery in Tullos.

Speedy Long was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield in 1998, along with his former congressional colleague Joe Waggonner. He was also inducted posthumously in 2008 into the "Long Purple Line" at his alma mater, Northwestern State University