E. L. Henry

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For the artist, see Edward Lamson Henry.


Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry
E. L. "Bubba" Henry
Louisiana State Representative from District 13 (Jackson, Bienville, and Ouachita parishes)
In office
1968–1980
Preceded by Marvin T. Culpepper
John Len Lacy
Succeeded by Jamie Fair
Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives (from Jackson Parish)
In office
1972–1980
Preceded by John Sidney Garrett
Succeeded by John Hainkel
Louisiana Commissioner of Administration
In office
1980–1984
Preceded by Charles E. Roemer, II
Personal details
Born (1936-02-10) February 10, 1936 (age 78)
Jonesboro, Jackson Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Francis S. Henry
Occupation Attorney; Lobbyist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Religion Baptist
(1) Though he ran for governor of his native Louisiana in 1979 as a reformer, Henry wound up as commissioner of administration of another "reform" candidate, Republican David C. Treen.

(2) After his public service, Henry became a sought-after lobbyist and partner of the firm Adams and Reese.

Edgerton L. Henry, known as Bubba Henry (born February 10, 1936), is a Baton Rouge attorney, lobbyist, and partner of the high-powered firm Adams and Reese who served as a Democrat in the House of Representatives from 1968 to 1980. He was Speaker from 1972 to 1980. Henry was Governor Edwin Washington Edwards's choice for Speaker. Though he was considered reform-minded, some conservatives still questioned Henry's commitment to reform. In 1979, Henry finished in a weak fifth place in the nonpartisan blanket primary in his bid to succeed Edwards as governor. Thereafter, he was commissioner of administration for the new governor, Republican David C. Treen, then of Jefferson Parish. After Treen left office, Henry retired from elective and appointive office to concentrate on his law practice and lobbying activities. He joined Adams and Reese in 1987. One of his major clients is State Farm Insurance, and he lobbies on behalf of the payday lending industry in Louisiana as a representative of the Community Financial Services Association of America.

One of his colleagues at Adams and Reese is former Louisiana Insurance Commissioner J. Robert Wooley.[1]

Leading the "Young Turks"[edit]

Henry graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957 from Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Thereafter, he procured his law degree from the Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge. Henry won his legislative seat on February 6, 1968, with a solid victory over his Republican opponent and personal friend, businessman Bob Reese of Jonesboro, later of Natchitoches Parish, where he ran unsuccessfully in 1972 for the state senate against the Democrat Paul L. Foshee.[2] The House seat in Jackson Parish was vacated by a one-term member, Marvin T. Culpepper, an engineer and farmer from Jonesboro.[3]

In his first term in the legislature, Henry, at thirty-two, led a group of younger members who advocated reforms. Called the "Young Turks," the members urged spending cuts, a decrease in the number of state employees, and reducing the amount of bonded indebtedness. Henry stopped lobbyists from going onto the House floor, and he opened up the committee process, but overall the priorities of the legislature are usually tied to those of the institutionally "strong" governor.

In addition to Henry, the "Young Turks" included then Representative Robert G. "Bob" Jones of Lake Charles, son of former Governor Sam Houston Jones. Jones would later become a state senator and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1975. Other "Young Turks" from around the state who participated in this session were the late John Hainkel, Jr., Ben Bagert, and Thomas Casey, all of New Orleans, P.J. Mills of Shreveport, R. W. "Buzzy" Graham of Alexandria, and Donald Wayne "Don" Williamson of Vivian in north Caddo Parish.

Henry won the Speaker's position after John Sidney Garrett of Haynesville in northern Claiborne Parish was defeated in the primary by Louise B. Johnson. Representative Frank Fulco of Shreveport was attempting to win commitments for Speaker too, but he was unseated in the general election by the Republican Arthur W. "Art" Sour, Jr.

Henry' biggest legislative defeat[edit]

Henry's most conspicuous defeat as Speaker of the House occurred in 1976, when the Equal Rights Amendment was rejected by the House Civil Law Committee. At the national level, 35 of the required 38 states had ratified ERA, and advocates of the amendment were targeting Louisiana, Florida, and Illinois as the final three. Social conservative groups opposed the amendment, arguing that it would federalize family law and pre-empt the states in areas dealing with the family.

Henry had placed what he believed was a majority of ERA backers on the Civil Law Committee. One of those was his future law partner with Adams and Reese in Baton Rouge, Sam LeBlanc III, a Metairie (Jefferson Parish) Democrat. LeBlanc, who served in the legislature from 1972–1980, was in fact the committee chairman. Previously, the committee had given ERA an "unfavorable" report, which had rendered it nearly impossible for the measure to be passed on the House floor. There were believed to have been nine ERA backers on the committee, based either on their past votes in the previous legislative session or on how the lawmaker had stood on ERA in the 1975 election campaign. There were only five ERA opponents on the panel, including Daniel Wesley "Dan" Richey, then a young Ferriday (Concordia Parish) Democrat, but later a Republican political activist in Baton Rouge. Supporters expected ERA would receive a "fair" hearing and a "favorable" report to the full House.

ERA generated nearly as much attention from legislators as the simultaneous consideration of the successful right-to-work law. Supporters of the amendment seemed to think that it was a foregone conclusion that Speaker Henry had found a way to get the amendment out of the previously "obstructionist" committee.[citation needed] Meanwhile, a small group of social conservatives, unknown to Henry or LeBlanc, was giving speeches in parts of the state where they sought to switch the votes of four Democratic representatives on the committee. These lawmakers were John W. "Jock" Scott of Alexandria, Michael F. "Mike" Thompson of Lafayette, Lane A. Carson of New Orleans, and A. J. McNamara of Metairie. It was believed that the Pentecostal Church, which opposed ERA and which was influential in Rapides Parish, convinced Scott to reverse his position. pro-life and anti-feminist groups in Lafayette and New Orleans, persuaded Thompson to oppose the ERA, and conservative women in Jefferson Parish pleaded with McNamara, later a Ronald W. Reagan-appointed U.S. district judge, to switch his vote as well.[citation needed]

Gubernatorial politics[edit]

Henry represented District 13, which included his native Jonesboro, seat of Jackson Parish, also the birthplace and burial site of former Governor James Houston "Jimmie" Davis. In 1972, Henry campaigned for Edwin Edwards, who faced an unusually strong Republican gubernatorial opponent in David Treen. Jackson Parish reelected Henry to the legislature, but it supported Treen for governor in the general election held on February 1 of that year.

In 1979, after he had lost out in the primary, Henry endorsed Republican Treen, but Jackson Parish again defied Henry's suggestion and voted for Treen's Democratic gubernatorial challenger, Louis J. Lambert, Jr., a public service commissioner from Ascension Parish.

In his 1979 gubernatorial run, Henry received 135,769 votes (9.9 percent). His manager was a future governor: Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III of Bossier Parish. Henry and Roemer had become friends when both were members of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1973. Henry was a chairman of the convention and was highly regarded for his ability to bring about consensus on divisive issues.


Commissioner of Administration[edit]

In 1980, as his legislative term ended, Henry became Treen's commissioner of administration, a high position in state government, which had been filled under Edwards by none other than Roemer's often controversial father, Charles E. Roemer, II, also of Bossier Parish. As commissioner of administration, Henry pushed to fruition the plans and blueprints for the State Capitol Complex and the consolidation of state offices within the Capitol environs.

In 1982, commissioner of administration Henry told the Democratic State Central Committee in 1982 that former Governor Edwards had created a "smoke screen ... to divert attention from his own 'sweetheart deals' for his political friends," a reference to controversy which arose in the financing of a new baseball stadium for the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Henry though still a Democrat worked for Treen's unsuccessful reelection attempt though he had been an Edwards backer in 1972, when Treen first lost to Edwards.[4]


Henry's legacy[edit]

Henry's affiliations include the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Public Affairs Research Council, and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

In 1974, Henry was honored in the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., by President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., who cited his "exemplary leadership," particularly in reference to his chairmanship of the constitutional convention.

In the fall of 2001, Louisiana Life magazine named Henry one of twenty persons who have "most influenced public policy in Louisiana during the past twenty years." And that designation came after his tenure in the legislature had ended.

In 2003, he lent support to an unsuccessful effort by a group attempting to convince President George W. Bush to release Edwin Edwards from prison. "He has been ruined. There is no purpose to be served by his sitting in prison for 10 years," said the former Louisiana Speaker. Edwards was convicted in May 2000 on conspiracy, racketeering, and money-laundering charges following a four-month trial.

Henry and his wife, Frances S. Henry (born April 30, 1937), attend the University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, where Henry has taught the young adults Sunday school class for many years. On the occasion of Henry's 70th birthday in 2006, the state House expressed "enduring gratitude" for his "outstanding contributions to the state." The House resolution also said that Henry "lives his life based on his faith in his Creator." Mrs. Henry is vice chairman of the Louisiana Board of Regents, which directs the state's colleges and universities, except for LSU.

On January 28, 2012, Henry, along with his friend Jerry Huckaby, a former member of the United States House of Representatives from Louisiana's 5th congressional district, and the late Fred Baden, former mayor of Pineville, and the late Adras LaBorde, former managing editor of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield. A banquet at the Winnfield Civic Center honored the annual inductees, three living and three deceased.[5][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Former Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance - J. Robert Wooley Joins Adams and Reese, February 20, 2006". adamsandreese.com. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election returns, February 6, 1968, and February 1, 1972
  3. ^ "Culpepper Family Tree". gen.culpepper.com. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Bubba Henry Says Edwards Creating a 'Smoke Screen'", Minden Press-Herald, March 25, 1982, p. 1
  5. ^ Avoyelles Today, January 4, 2012
  6. ^ "La. Political Hall inducts former Pineville mayor, 5 others". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, January 29, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Marvin T. Culpepper (D)
John Len Lacy (D)
Louisiana State Representative from District 13 (Jackson, Bienville and part of Ouachita parishes)

Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry (D)
1968–1980

Succeeded by
Jamie Fair (D)
Preceded by
John Sidney Garrett (D)
Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives

Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry (D)
1972–1980

Succeeded by
John Joseph Hainkel, Jr. (D), later (R)