Tom Ed McHugh

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Thomas Edward
"Tom Ed" McHugh​

In office
1989​ – 2000​
Preceded by James Patrick "Pat" Screen​
Succeeded by Bobby Simpson

Born Zachary
East Baton Rouge Parish
Louisiana, USA​
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1996)​
Spouse(s) Betty Schilling McHugh​
Residence Zachary, Louisiana​
Occupation Executive director, Louisiana Municipal Association

Thomas Edward McHugh, known as Tom Ed McHugh (born October 3, 1943), is a former Mayor-President, a combined municipal-parish position, of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. He resides in his native Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish.[1] He was elected as a Democrat to the mayor-presidency in 1988 and 1992 but won his third term in 1996 as a Republican. The position includes all of the capital city of Baton Rouge.​ In 2001, he was named the executive director of the Louisiana Municipal Association, but that position is now filled by John Gallagher.[2]

McHugh is descended from a prominent East Baton Rouge Parish family. The original Thomas E. McHugh (born 1861) was a clerk of the East Baton Rouge district court, a staunch Democrat, and an organizer of the city of Zachary.[3] Another kinsman, also named Thomas Edward McHugh, possibly a grandfather, was the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff from 1928 to 1932.[4]​ ​ In 1988, Democratic Mayor-President James Patrick "Pat" Screen, Jr. (1943-1994), declined to seek a third term. Screen's predecessor, former Mayor-President Woodrow Wilson Dumas of Baker, came out of political retirement at the age of seventy-two to seek his old position in a crowded field in the nonpartisan blanket primary. Dumas polled 29,109 votes (29.9 percent) to McHugh's 38,629 ballots (39.7 percent). In third place was state Senator Mike Cross of Baker, with 12,741 votes (13.1 percent). Then state Representative Carl Crane, one of two Republicans in the race, polled only 4,554 votes (4.7 percent).[5] In the general election, McHugh defeated Dumas, 79,134 (55.5 percent) to 63,519 (44.5 percent).[6]

In 1992, McHugh defeated the Democrat Ron Johnson and the Republican Kim P. Carmouche having garnered 69,925 (73.3 percent) to win the post outright in the primary.[7] In 1993, McHugh ordered trick-or-treating moved from October 31 to October 29 to avoid conflicts with Sunday evening church services. Three inches of rain spoiled the Friday evening for many. McHugh later said that he got more telephone calls about that incident than any other issue in his twelve years in office. In 1959, Mayor-President Jack Christian had similarly moved trick-or-treating from Saturday, October 31, to Friday, October 30, to accommodate the LSU Tigers football game against the Ole Miss Rebels. That decision proved more popular for Christian because William Abb "Billy" Cannon (1937-2018) scored an 89-yard touchdown to keep the Tigers undefeated and to win a Heisman Trophy, the only LSU player ever so honored.[8]

In 1996, McHugh, having defected to the Republican ticket, handily defeated a later mayor-president, Democratic state representative Melvin "Kip" Holden, 75,413 votes (66.1 percent) to Holden's 38,641 (33.9 percent).​[9] ​ McHugh did not seek a fourth term as mayor-president in 2000 and was succeeded by fellow Republican Bobby Simpson. After his mayor-presidency, McHugh became executive director of the LMA, a nonpartisan position in an organization with more than three hundred municipal members.​ ​


  1. "Louisiana: Thomas McHugh," Who's Who in American Politics, 2007-2008 (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2007), p. 666.
  2. LMA Executive Director. Retrieved on September 23, 2019.
  3. Thomas McHugh. Retrieved on December 2, 2009.
  4. List of past sheriffs and ex officio tax collectors, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
  5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 1, 1988.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 8, 1988.
  7. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 3, 1992.
  8. Chante Dionne Warren (September 29, 2009). Halloween changes a scary proposition for mayors. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on December 23, 2010; no longer on-line..
  9. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, September 21, 1996.

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