Last modified on August 10, 2022, at 20:20

Buddy Leach

Anthony Claude "Buddy" Leach, Jr


United States Representative
for Louisiana's 4th congressional district
Preceded by Joe D. Waggonne, Jr.
Succeeded by Buddy Roemer

Chairman of the
Louisiana Democratic Party
In office
January 31, 2010 – April 28, 2012
Preceded by Chris Whittington
Succeeded by Karen Carter Peterson

Louisiana State Representative
for Allen, Beauregard,
and Vernon parishes
In office
1968–1979
Preceded by Bert A. Adams
Succeeded by William H. West
In office
1984–1988
Preceded by William H. West
Succeeded by John R. Smith

Born March 30, 1934
Leesville, Vernon Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died August 6, 2022 (aged 88)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Resting place Prien Memorial Park in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Spouse(s) Laura Alexander Leach
Children Mary Leach Werner

Lucy Leach Davenport
Claude Alexander Leach
Parents:
Claude, Sr., and Lucille Leach
Sister:
Carolyn Leach Huntoon

Alma mater Louisiana State University

LSU Law Center

Occupation Businessman; Attorney
Religion Episcopalian

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1956-1959

Anthony Claude Leach, Jr., known as Buddy Leach (March 30, 1934 – August 6, 2022), was a wealthy businessman and politician who represented Louisiana's 4th congressional district for a single term from 1979 to 1981. Earlier, he was a four-term state representative from his native Leesville in Vernon Parish. He was also the chairman for two years of the Louisiana Democratic Party until he was ousted in 2012 by the African-American then state Senator Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans.[1][2]

Background

The son of a plumber, Leach amassed a fortune in land, cattle, petroleum, and natural gas holdings.[3] He graduated in 1951 from Leesville High School and then attended Louisiana State University in the capital city of Baton Rouge, from which he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1954, he was diagnosed with polio. Though he suffered from temporary paralysis but eventually recovered from the disease.[4]

After attending college, Leach served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1959. In 1963, he obtained his Juris Doctorate from the LSU Law Center. In 1964, he was admitted to the state bar association and began his law practice in Leesville.[1] After the death of his father, Leach began running the family plumbing business. Leach then sold the business after finding new jobs for all of the employees. He later became president and chief executive officer of Sweet Lake Land and Oil Company and North American Land Company in Lake Charles.[4]

Political life

In 1968, Leach was first elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in a two-member district with fellow Democrat E. Holman Jones of Oakdale in Allen Parish. Leach was reelected in 1972 and 1976. In 1979, he gave up his seat to run for Congress. He served only one term as a U.S. congressman, having been defeated in the 1980 election by Buddy Roemer, later a one-term governor of the state. In 1983, Leach sought to regain his former state legislative seat.[5] He unseated the incumbent Democrat, William H. West. In his last term as a state legislator, Leach served on the House Ways and Means committee. In this capacity, he recommended that a tax be placed on foreign oil processed within the state.[1][4]

In 2003, Leach launched his gubernatorial campaign in which he advocated fundamentally changing the way state government operated. He suggested that the state use a "brillo pad" to "scrub the budget." Health care was among his priorities. Many young voters were attracted to his campaign's message. He had teams of volunteers set up in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans.[4] Many other candidates were in the race, including Democrats Kathleen Blanco and Richard Ieyoub. Republicans ran Bobby Jindal as an alternative choice for voters. In the end, Leach came in fourth place behind Richard Ieyoub, Kathleen Blanco, and Bobby Jindal, respectively. Kathleen Blanco went on to win the general election and serve a single term, as she was unseated in 2007 by Bobby Jindal.

In 2010, Leach won a special election for the chairmanship of his state's Democratic Party.[6] During his tenure as chairman, the party struggled to field candidates for statewide offices.[7] The party was unable to find a well-funded candidate to run in 2011 against Governor Jindal. For the first time since Reconstruction Democrats lost both houses of the state legislature to Republicans. On April 28, 2012, Leach lost his reelection bid as state party chair.[2] Though the Republicans hold legislative majorities still, they are crippled by twenty-three House members who rejected the conservative candidate for Speaker in 2020 and often side with Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. The group is known as the Louisiana Republican Fraud Squad.

Leach died of congestive heart failure in Baton Rouge at the age of eighty-eight.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Leach, Anthony Claude, Jr.. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 6 February 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Karen Carter Peterson ousts Buddy Leach as leader of Louisiana Democratic Party (April 29, 2012). Retrieved on April 30, 2012.
  3. Buddy Leach, a wealthy businessman who served in Congress and the state House, dies at 88 | State Politics | theadvocate.com,
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Hasten, Mike. Leach wants to clean up state budget. Capitol Watch. Louisiana Gannet News. Retrieved on 6 February 2013.
  5. "Leach will try again for La. House seat," Minden Press-Herald, March 23, 1983, p. 1.
  6. Melinda Deslatte. Louisiana Democratic Party chairman wants to retain post. The Associated Press. Retrieved on 12 February 2013.
  7. Deslatte, Melinda. Louisiana Democrats look to rebuild grassroots base. The Associated Press. Retrieved on 12 February 2013.