Louis Lambert

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This article is about the US legislator. For the Balzac novel, see Louis Lambert (novel).
Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr.
Louis Lambert
Louisiana State Senator from District 18 (parts of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. James, and St. John the Baptist parishes)
In office
1994–2004
Preceded by Joseph A. Sevario, III
Succeeded by Jody Amedee
Louisiana State Senator from Ascension, Livingston, and St. James parishes
In office
1972–1974
Preceded by George T. Oubre
Succeeded by Ralph Falsetta
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner from Baton Rouge-based District 3
In office
1974–1992
Preceded by New position
Succeeded by Irma Muse Dixon
Member of Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors
In office
2002 – June 1, 2008
Personal details
Born (1940-12-21) December 21, 1940 (age 73)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Gayle S. Lambert
Occupation Attorney
Religion Christian

Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr. (born December 21, 1940), is a Louisiana attorney, businessman, former member and chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, and a former Louisiana state senator.

Lambert, while serving on the PSC, lost the 1979 gubernatorial race to Republican U.S. Representative David C. Treen, then of Jefferson Parish in the Third Congressional District. A switch of 4,979 votes out of nearly 1.4 million cast, however, would have made Lambert governor by a one-vote margin. Lambert was the first Louisiana Democrat to lose to a Republican candidate in a statewide general election, popularly called the runoff.

Lambert represented District 18 in the Louisiana State Senate from 1994 until 2004. His district encompassed parts of East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, St. James, and St. John the Baptist parishes. He lives in Prairieville (Ascension Parish) with his wife, Mary Gayle S. Lambert.

Lambert was to have been a major candidate in the November 4, 2008, general election for District Attorney in the 23rd Judicial District, which encompasses Ascension, Assumption, and St. James parishes. He faced a fellow Democrat, assistant district attorney Ricky Babin (born ca. 1962). In the October 4 jungle primary, Babin received 11,540 votes (34.8 percent) to Lambert's 9,370 votes (28.3 percent). [1] Citing political divisiveness in the lengthy campaign, Lambert withdrew from the race, and Babin won by default.[2]

Education and community involvement[edit]

Lambert graduated from the Capital Page School in Washington, D.C., and attended the St. Amant School in St. Amant in Ascension Parish. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and his law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Lambert is a retired captain in the Louisiana National Guard. He is a member of the Ascension Chamber of Commerce, the East Ascension Sportsman League, creator and volunteer Chairman of the Board of the River Region Cancer Clinic, and is the creator and volunteer Chairman of the Board of The River Parishes Community College in Sorrento. Louis is a Christian.

Constitutional convention delegate, 1973[edit]

Lambert was elected on a nonpartisan ballot in the summer of 1972 as a delegate to the state constitutional convention, which met in Baton Rouge during 1973. The convention produced a new governing document for the state, which voters handily approved in 1974. Lambert in fact was chairman of the convention.

Public Service Commissioner Lambert[edit]

Lambert began his political career as the Gonzales town attorney. Then in the 1971-1972 election cycle, he won a state Senate seat which then included Ascension, Livingston, and St. James parishes. At the age of thirty-one, he succeeded state Senator George T. Oubre, who ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in the Democratic primary. The position instead went to William J. Guste, Jr., of New Orleans.

However, Lambert resigned halfway through that Senate term (when he had also been a constitutional convention delegate) after his election to the PSC. The regulatory body expanded from three to five members under the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 which Lambert helped to write. Lambert won the PSC District 3 seat based about Baton Rouge.

Lambert was chairman of the PSC for several terms. For a time, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lafayette, who was elected as the state's first woman governor in 2003, was the PSC vice-chairman during one term when Lambert was chairman. She served on the PSC from 1988 to 1996.

In his last election to the PSC in 1986, Lambert defeated the Republican Archie Mollere by the lopsided margin of 171,872 (86 percent) to 28,420 (14 percent). Lambert was succeeded on the PSC by its first African-American member, Irma Muse Dixon.

Winning a general election slot, 1979[edit]

Lambert eyed the 1979 gubernatorial race with confidence and perhaps with history on his side. Three previous governors had served on the PSC prior to their gubernatorial victories: Huey Pierce Long, Jr., Jimmie Houston "Jimmie" Davis, and John Julian McKeithen. Lambert sought to succeed two-term-limited Governor Edwin Washington Edwards. Republican David Treen led the balloting against the divided field of Democrats but was far short of an outright majority.

Lambert faced a legal challenge to secure his general election berth. Then Lieutenant Governor James Edward Fitzmorris, Jr., of New Orleans had initially led for the second spot, but when a retabulation put Lambert ahead of Fitzmorris by some 2,500 votes, Fitzmorris went to court. He alleged that Lambert had benefited from fraudulent votes in certain parishes as well as improper counting procedures. State District Judge Douglas Gonzalez of Baton Rouge, a Republican, said in the hearing brought about by Fitzmorris' suit that he sympathized with the lieutenant governor's position. However, Gonzalez found that Fitzmorris had not located sufficient numbers of questionable votes for Lambert to put Fitzmorris, rather than Lambert, into the general election.

The disappointed Fitzmorris and three other major Democratic gubernatorial candidates all endorsed Treen: Secretary of State Paul J. Hardy, originally from St. Martinville, state Senator Edgar G. "Sonny" Mouton, Jr., of Lafayette, and outgoing House Speaker Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry of Jonesboro in Jackson Parish in north Louisiana. Lambert seemed to stand alone while his four major intraparty rivals backing the Republican choice for governor.

Despite the actions of other Democratic gubernatorial candidates, outgoing Governor Edwards endorsed Lambert: "He is going to, more than Dave Treen, continue the programs that I'm proud of in Louisiana."[3]Treen replied that the Lambert campaign was in dire need of a major endorsement, and Edwards was there to comply.[4]

Lambert's gubernatorial campaign[edit]

"I have always run against the politicians, the power brokers, and the political bosses," Lambert said. He predicted that his state's overwhelming Democratic registration would provide him with a margin of victory despite the defection of prominent individuals to the Treen camp.

Lambert won the support of Governor Edwards and former Governor John Julian McKeithen, who had supported Hardy in the primary. Some, however, speculated that Edwards did not mind that Treen won the election because Edwards wanted to challenge a "Governor Treen" in the 1983 jungle primary for his own potential third term.

One of the surprises of the campaign was that Lambert ran well in north Louisiana, winning more than a dozen parishes which had supported Treen in his earlier 1972 campaign against Edwards, such as Morehouse and Webster parishes. Treen dominated the suburban parishes around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Lambert's weakness, however, was to the west of his home base: Acadiana, where Treen ran strongly in Lafayette and the sugar parishes. Factions which had supported Hardy and Mouton in the primary agreed to work for Treen. In an appearance in Lafayette, Treen told the Acadiana audience that his campaign reached across party, racial, and geographic lines. Mouton, who had been an Edwards loyalist, said at the rally: "Did you ever think you would see this sight -- a bunch of Acadiana Democrats cheering a Republican?"

Treen finished with 690,691 (50.3 percent) to Lambert's 681,134 (49.7 percent). Treen won only 22 of the 64 parishes in victory, whereas he had carried 27 parishes in defeat in 1972. Only ten parishes supported Treen in both 1972 and 1979, including Caddo, Ouachita, Lincoln, Bossier, and East Baton Rogue parishes. Treen's victory is attributed to his Acadiana margins -- Lafayette, Iberia, Terrebonne, Acadia and St. Martin parishes, where he overcame huge deficits from 1972 to win in 1979.

Lambert blamed his defeat principally on Fitzmorris' lawsuit: "If it hadn't been for that lawsuit, I would have beat him 55 percent to 45 percent." Lambert never again sought statewide office. He remained a public service commissioner until 1992.

Returning to the state Senate, 1994[edit]

In 1994, Lambert returned to the state Senate, when the longtime incumbent Joseph E. Sevario, III, resigned. Lambert won the special election over his fellow Democrat "Jeff" Diez, 9,068 (57 percent) to 6,965 (43 percent). He was reelected in 1995 over the Republican Kirk T. Harrison, 37,876 (80 percent) to 9,655 (20 percent). Unopposed in 1999, Lambert did not seek another term in 2003.

Lambert was chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee. He worked closely with Republican Senator Robert J. Barham of Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish on various environmental questions, including the preservation of the state's shrinking wetlands. Lambert, loyal Democrat, even donated to Barham's unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2002.

In 2002, Lambert was appointed as one of the sixteen members of the prestigious Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors by Republican Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr. Lambert and Foster had been state senators together during 1995. The six-year term on the LSU board ended on June 1, 2008.

Lambert served briefly on the 16-member University of Louisiana System board until his term expired on December 31, 2012. Governor Bobby Jindal, who had named Lambert to fill an unexpired term on the board in 2011, did not reappoint him to a full term.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, October 5, 2008: http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/30477064.html
  2. ^ Gonzales Weekly Citizen, October 15, 2008, p. 1: http://www.weeklycitizen.com/opinions/x1157484619/OUR-OPINION-A-twist-in-the-DA-race
  3. ^ "Edwards endorses Louis Lambert", Minden Press-Herald, November 26, 1979, p. 1
  4. ^ Minden Press-Herald, November 29, 1979, p. 1
  5. ^ "Jindal names eight new USL board members, January 3, 2013". Monroe News Star. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
Preceded by
George T. Oubre (D)
Louisiana State Senator from Ascension, Livingston, and St. James parishes

Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr., (D)
1972–1974

Succeeded by
Ralph Falsetta (D)
Preceded by
Joseph A. Sevario, III, (D)
Louisiana State Senator from District 18 (Parts of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. James, and St. John the Baptist parishes)

Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr., (D)
1994–2004

Succeeded by
Jody Amedee (D)
Preceded by
New position
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner from District 3 (Baton Rouge-based)

Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr., (D)
1974–1992

Succeeded by
Irma Muse Dixon