Foster Campbell

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Foster Campbell
Member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission
from the 5th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 2003
Preceded by Don Owen
Member of the Louisiana Senate
from the 36th district
In office
December 1976 – December 2002
Preceded by Harold Montgomery
Succeeded by Robert Adley
Personal details
Born Foster Lonnie Campbell, Jr.
(1947-01-06) January 6, 1947 (age 67)
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Paula Yvonne Wright (Divorced)
Gwen Campbell
Children Foster Zachary (with Paula)
Peter (with Paula)
Kate (with Paula)
Nicholas (with Paula)
Mary Claire (with Paula)
Sarah Elizabeth (with Paula)
Alma mater Northwestern State University
Religion Southern Baptist

Foster Lonnie Campbell, Jr. (born January 6, 1947), is a Democratic member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, a former 26-year member of the Louisiana State Senate, and an unsuccessful candidate for governor in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007.

In the gubernatorial race, Campbell polled 161,425 votes (12 percent) and won two parishes: Red River and Bienville, both near Shreveport. He lost his home parish of Bossier Parish (20 percent) to the successful Republican candidate, Bobby Jindal (60 percent).

In 2012, Campbell became chairman of the five-member Public Service Commission.

In 2015, Campbell will again seek the office of governor, which Jindal must vacate because of term limits.[1]Meanwhile, he is a candidate for a third six-year term on the Public Service Commission. In the November 4, 2014, nonpartisan blanket primary, he faces a challenge from the politically unknown Winnfield attorney Keith Gates, a Republican.[2]


Background[edit]

Campbell was born in Shreveport to Foster Campbell, Sr., and the former Rubye Grigsby of Bossier City, both deceased.[3] He graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches with a Bachelor of Science degree. He became a salesman of agricultural supplies until 1976, when he founded the Campbell Insurance Agency in Bossier City.

Campbell has six children, five living, from his first marriage to the former Paula Yvonne Wright, the daughter of the late Marvin Eugene and Yvonne Gravel Wright of Baton Rouge. The oldest Campbell child, Foster Zachary "Zach" Campbell (1976-2013), was a former researcher for the LSU Neuroscience Center of Excellence in New Orleans, who was residing in Dallas, Texas, at the time of his death at the age of thirty-seven. The other Campbell children are Dr. Peter Campbell of Williamsport, Maryland; Kate Campbell of Baton Rouge; Nicholas Campbell of Shreveport, Mary Claire Campbell Figgins and husband Nathan of Sierra Madre, California, and Sarah Elizabeth Campbell of Waco, Texas.[3]

Campbell resides with his second wife, Gwen, in Elm Grove in south Bossier Parish,[3] where he raises cattle.

Legislative service[edit]

In 1975, Campbell was elected to the Senate to succeed the retiring conservative Democrat Harold Montgomery of Doyline in Webster Parish. In a lopsided general election outcome, Campbell defeated former Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, John Sidney Garrett of Haynesville in northern Claiborne Parish, who failed in a political comeback attempt. During his Senate service, Campbell was often allied with Governor Edwin Washington Edwards and chaired the Select Committee on Consumer Affairs.

Campbell was sometimes at odds with Republican Governor David C. Treen, whom he claimed was aiming vetoes at projects in Campbell's senatorial district, including at one point a new roof for the Webster Parish Library in Minden, which years later built a new structure.[4] In 1982, Treen rejected funding for an industrial pact sought by Campbell. In hopes of enticing labor-intensive industries to relocate to Louisiana, Campbell proposed to earmark $30 million from the oil and natural gas surplus trust fund.[5] In 1983, Treen signed into law Campbell's bill to allow members of electric co-ops to come under Public Service Commission regulation. Under the law which Treen accepted after much wrangling, 20 percent of the membership must take part in any election in regard to enabling PSC jurisdiction over a utility company.[6]

Ron Gomez, a member of the Louisiana House from Lafayette and at the time a Democrat prior to later switching parties, describes Campbell, when he was a state senator, as "always having some populist, usually anti-business legislation moving through the process. Persistent is his middle name."[7]

Over the years, Campbell easily won reelection to his Senate seat. In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 24, 1987, for instance, he polled 11,080 votes (70.2 percent) over two Democrats and a Republican opponent. Democrat (later Republican) Garland Mack Garrett, an oil company owner from Springhill born in 1942,[8] trailed with 3,400 votes (21.5 percent). Ivan J. Edwards received 474 votes (3 percent), and Republican William F. "Bill" Lott, drew the remaining 835 ballots (5.3 percent) [9]

In 1992, State Senate President Sammy Nunez appointed Campbell as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.[10]

Congressional races[edit]

Campbell ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 1980, having lost out to future Governor Buddy Roemer, a Bossier Parish native who unseated the one-term incumbent, Buddy Leach of Leesville in Vernon Parish in western Louisiana. Other unsuccessful candidates in that race were former State Representative Jimmy Wilson of Vivian, who had lost to Leach by a narrow margin in 1978, State Representative Forrest Dunn of Shreveport, former State Senator Cecil K. Carter, Jr., of Shreveport, and Rogers M. "Mickey" Prestridge, the municipal judge in Bossier City.

In 1988, Campbell narrowly lost the congressional race to a former Roemer aide, Republican Jim McCrery, a native and resident of Shreveport who was reared in Leesville. Roemer, however, was not supporting McCrery, but instead the Democrat Stanley R. Tiner, the former editor of the since defunct Shreveport Journal, a native of Webster Parish, and United States Marine veteran of the Vietnam War.[11] During that special election campaign, triggered by Roemer's resignation to become governor, Campbell was seriously injured in a single vehicle car crash when he drove the wrong way down an unfinished, unopened section of Interstate 49 near Natchitoches. His car dropped more than a foot in a section where concrete was missing from the roadway. The accident left him blind in his right eye and with several broken facial bones.[12] Campbell missed several days of campaigning and was forced to apologize for being on the closed highway: "I was wrong; that's all you can say. I made a mistake, and I'm paying for it."[13]

In that 1988 race, Campbell was challenged about his support for Governor Edwin Edwards's $1 billion tax hike. Campbell said that he voted for less than a third of the tax increases Edwards sought: "I told him to cut the budget, and he didn't."[14] Campbell ultimately lost to McCrery by some 1,500 votes, 50.2-49.8 percent.[15]

In 1990, Campbell made this third and final race for the U.S. House, but he was again defeated by McCrery, who solidified his hold on the district. (McCrery retired in January 2009 and was succeeded by the Republican John C. Fleming, a physician and businessman from Minden.)

Public Service Commissioner[edit]

In 1984, Campbell considered running for the Public Service Commission when the two-term incumbent, Edward Kennon of Minden, stepped down, but he did not do so.[16]

In 2002, Campbell was elected from District 5 to the Public Service Commission, the statewide regulatory body in charge of public utilities and the oil industry. He narrowly unseated incumbent Donald Lynn "Don" Owen, a native Oklahoman and a former news anchorman for KSLA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport. Campbell prevailed with 123,749 votes (50.7 percent) to Owen's 120,413 (49.3 percent).[17]

Campbell holds periodic town hall meetings for constituents to voice their concerns, mostly about matters of utility service. At a particular gathering in Natchitoches in 2003, Alice Louise Johnson Bolton (1921-2014) renewed her long-term quest for telephone service at her rural residence in Mink, a hamlet in Natchitoches Parish, which was repeatedly bypassed when it came to telephone lines and installation. Bolton became a short-lived celebrity for her outspoken campaign and was featured in several news articles, including one in The New York Times and another in The Independent in London.[18]Telephone service finally came to Mink in February 2005; Bolton's first caller was then governor Kathleen Blanco. Mink is believed to have been one of the last places in the United States to have obtained land phone lines but at great cost to the phone company.[19]

In the November 4, 2014, primary election, Campbell handily won his third term on the PSC by having handily defeated Republican Keith Gates of Winnfield, 169,097 (61.5 percent) to 105,916 (38.5 percent). Campbell narrowly won his home parish of Bossier and lost only two of the twenty-four parishes in the district, Union and Gates's Winn Parish.[20]

2007 gubernatorial bid[edit]

In November 2006, Campbell informed the press that he was considering challenging incumbent Governor Kathleen Blanco, a fellow Democrat, in the 2007 primary election. He subsequently toured the state, raised money, and hired political consultant George Kennedy—described by LAPolitics.com as "the state's hottest political consultant." The centerpiece of Campbell's platform was a proposal to repeal the excise tax levied by the state on domestic oil production and replace it with a 6 percent processing fee on all oil and natural gas that passes through the state. Campbell estimated that this fee would raise $5.5 billion per year, enough to eliminate the state's income tax with nearly $2 billion per year left for discretionary spending.

On March 19, 2007, in a press conference held in New Orleans, Campbell officially announced his gubernatorial candidacy. The next day, in apparent response to opinion polls showing that she would be unlikely to win re-election over Jindal, whom she had defeated in 2003, Blanco announced that she would not seek a second term as governor. Former U.S. Senator John Breaux, a Democrat, was expected to announce his candidacy, but he bowed out on April 13. On April 26, another gubernatorial contender, Walter Boasso, the Republican state senator from St. Bernard Parish in south Louisiana, announced that he was returning to the Democratic Party. Campbell faced Jindal and Boasso in the nonpartisan blanket primary as well as an independent, John Georges of New Orleans. When asked to cite some of the differences between him and frontrunner Jindal, Campbell says, "I understand rural people and agriculture. He has no idea what's going on in rural communities and agriculture. I work with black people very well. I don’t think that he has a lot of communication with the black community."

Had he been elected governor, Campbell would have been the fifth public service commissioner to move into the state's top position. Previously, Huey P. Long, Jr., Jimmie Davis, John McKeithen, and Blanco were public service commissioners.

In 2009, Campbell was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ By WWLTV.com (2013-07-26). "Edwards running to correct what he calls Jindal's mistakes | wwltv.com New Orleans". Wwltv.com. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  2. ^ Greg Hilburn. "Winnfield attorney qualifies for PSC". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Foster Zachary Campbell". Monroe News Star. Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Treen, Campbell Feudin'", Minden Press-Herald, August 23, 1982, p. 1
  5. ^ "Treen refuses funding for industrial pact sought by Campbell", Minden Press-Herald, June 30, 1982, p. 1
  6. ^ "Treen signs co-op bill", Minden Press-Herald, July 20, 1983, p. 1
  7. ^ Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000, p. 130, ISBN=0-9700156-0-7
  8. ^ "Garrett is Senate challenger", Minden Press-Herald, September 16, 1987, p. 4A
  9. ^ "Louisiana primary election results, October 24, 1987". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ Minden Press-Herald, February 6, 1992, p. 1
  11. ^ "McCrery, Campbell in April 16 runoff", Minden Press-Herald, March 9, 1988, p. 1
  12. ^ "McCrery pledges low-key campaign", Minden Press-Herald, March 16, 1988, p. 1
  13. ^ "Campbell admits mistake, ready to campaign", Minden Press-Herald, March 21, 1988, p. 1
  14. ^ Sonny Jeane, "Congressional candidates debate the issues", Minden Press-Herald, February 24, 1988, p. 1
  15. ^ "Louisiana election returns, April 16, 1988". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Ed Kennon won't run again for PSC post; Campbell might", Minden Press-Herald, June 12, 1984, p. 1
  17. ^ "General election returns, November 5, 2002". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Alice Louise Johnson Bolton". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Andrew Buncombe, Mink, Louisiana, hears new sound: a ringtone, February 5, 2005". The Independent in London. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Election Results for 11/4/2014". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". cityofwinnfield.com. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 

External links[edit]

THE INDEPENDENT WEEKLY 8/29/2007

Louisiana Senate
Preceded by
Harold Montgomery
Member of the Louisiana State Senate
from the 36th district

1976–2002
Succeeded by
Robert Adley
Civic offices
Preceded by
Don Owen
Member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission
from the 5th district

2003–present
Incumbent