Robert "Bobby" Freeman

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Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman
47th Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana
In office
Governor David Treen
Edwin Washington Edwards
Preceded by James E. "Jimmy" Fitzmorris, Jr.
Succeeded by Paul Jude Hardy
Louisiana State Representative from Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes
In office
Preceded by Thomas Marx Hoffman
Succeeded by Harry A. "Soup" Kember, Jr.
Plaquemine City Judge
In office
Preceded by William C. Dupont
Succeeded by William C. Dupont
Personal details
Born (1934-04-27) April 27, 1934 (age 80)
Place of birth missing
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marianne D. Freeman
Residence Plaquemine
Iberville Parish
Louisiana, USA
Alma mater Louisiana State University

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Profession Attorney

Robert Louis Freeman, known as Bobby Freeman (born April 27, 1934), is an attorney in Plaquemine, Louisiana, who was the Democratic lieutenant governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana from 1980 to 1988.

Freeman was subsequently the Plaquemine city judge from 1990 to 1996. From 1968 to 1980, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He served as lieutenant governor under, first, Republican Governor David C. Treen and then Treen's Democratic successor (and predecessor), Edwin Washington Edwards. He was defeated for a third term in the 1987 general election by the former Louisiana Secretary of State and Democrat-turned-Republican Paul Jude Hardy, a Baton Rouge attorney originally from St. Martinville, Louisiana.

He graduated from Plaquemine Senior High School in 1952, where he engaged in boxing, with among others his classmate and friend Jessel Ourso, later the colorful sheriff of Iberville Parish.[1] Freeman earned his bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was a member of the LSU boxing team and was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977.[2] Freeman earned his L.L.B. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in New Orleans in 1965. He served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1959 and worked for a chemical company from 1960 to 1961. Early in his career, Freeman practiced law in the Plaquemine firm of Freeman and Pendley. He is a member of the Louisiana and American bar associations. He was chairman of the Plaquemine Planning and Zoning Commission from 1966-1968. Freeman is Roman Catholic.[citation needed]

Quarrels with Governor Treen[edit]

Freeman has been a strong supporter of organized labor, which has a marked presence in his former state House district, an area which has not elected a Republican to the legislature since Reconstruction and remains one of the most overwhelmingly Democratic parts of Louisiana. Freeman, considered a liberal Democrat, supported Treen's Democratic opponent, Louis J. Lambert, Jr., then a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission from Ascension Parish, near Baton Rouge, in the 1979 gubernatorial general election. He defeated a fellow Democrat, Jim Donelon, of Jefferson Parish, in the general election. (Under Louisiana law, two Democrats or two Republican may compete in the "general election".) Another Democratic lieutenant governor candidate, Jesse Knowles, state senator and World War II hero from Lake Charles, endorsed Donelon (who became the state insurance commissioner in 2006) in the second round of balloting. The incumbent in the lieutenant governor's race, Jimmy Fitzmorris, did not seek a third term, but ran unsuccessfully for governor. Later, through Treen's influence, Knowles, Donelon, and Fitzmorris all became Republicans. Freeman benefited in the race against Donelon with support of the grass-roots organizer Aubrey W. Young, originally from Monroe, the first aide de camp to then Governor John J. McKeithen.[3]

Freeman quarreled with Treen throughout their simultaneous terms of office. After weeks of noncommunication with Freeman, Treen said on the day prior to the inauguration that he had talked with Freeman and had assured him that Treen had "nothing but goodwill" toward Freeman. Treen's aide and future state Republican chairman, William "Billy" Nungesser, said, quite mistakenly as it turned out, that the two would "get along just fine" after they were able to meet without the presence of the media or their respective party officials.[citation needed]

By April 1980, however, Freeman said that he might serve as governor whenever Treen was out of the state. Depending on the urgency of the situation, Freeman said that he might veto legislation if Treen were, for instance, in Detroit attending the Republican National Convention during the week of July 13, 1980. His estrangement with Treen was compared at the time to that of the California Lieutenant Governor, Republican Mike Curb, who had quarreled with Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Freeman took over as "acting governor" under the Louisiana Constitution whenever Treen left the state.[citation needed]

In a speech in 1982, Freeman challenged Treen's 4.4-percent across-the-board cuts in state spending because they impacted education, hospitals, and law enforcement. Freeman said that the state should have instead eliminated wasteful programs to close the budget deficit to avoid reductions in needed services. "Maybe state government needs to stop growing", Freeman said, noting that a $100 million surplus in 1980 had been depleted in two years, and new revenue sources were needed.[4]

Freeman v. Treen lawsuit[edit]

In 1983, Freeman sparred with Treen over the appropriations for the office of lieutenant governor. Treen sought to cut all state appropriations and said that Freeman's office would also face a funding cut. Freeman sued, and the case Freeman v. Treen was unique in that relatively few lieutenant governors have sued their respective governors over political disagreements. Freeman had been allocated $411,907 with a staff of eleven employees.[citation needed] After passage of the bill by the Louisiana House, Freeman persuaded the Senate Finance Committee to increase his allocation by a lump-sum amendment in the amount of $133,637, which established a total of $545,544 with fifteen employees. Freeman admitted that the amount was added so as to preclude a gubernatorial line item veto of the additional funds. When informed that the increase was not in proper item form, Treen wrote Freeman to advise him that the lieutenant governor's office could not be wholly exempt from budget cuts. The House refused to concur in the Senate amendment, and the bill was sent to a conference committee composed of three House and three Senate members. At the committee meeting, a compromise amendment, proposed by Treen, which would have added $66,819, or half of Freeman's additional request to the salaries item, was introduced but defeated in a 3-3 split.[citation needed]

Freeman faces Fitzmorris, 1983[edit]

Having never been reconciled to Treen's narrow election, Freeman strongly favored the return of Edwin Edwards to the governorship in the 1983 primary, when Edwards handily unseated Treen, whom many voters blamed for a worsening economy in the state. In the same election Freeman himself faced a major opponent in Democrat Jimmy Fitzmorris, who had been in the No. 2 spot during Edwards' first two terms. Fitzmorris had lost the 1979 jungle primary for governor and then endorsed Republican David Treen over Democrat Louis Lambert.[citation needed]

In the October 22, 1983, primary, Freeman led a four-candidate field, but Fitzmorris ran strongly enough to qualify for a general election berth on November 19. Freeman prevailed in the general election, held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day, with 627,224 votes (59.7 percent) to Fitzmorris' 424,091 (40.3 percent). Some 400,000 who had balloted in the Edwards-Treen primary did not participate in the lieutenant governor's general election.[citation needed]

In 1987, Freeman was challenged by Paul Hardy and the Democrat William Ford Dodd, son of former Lieutenant Governor (1948–1952) William J. "Bill" Dodd (1909–1991). Dodd was eliminated in the primary, and Freeman and Hardy advanced to the general election. Hardy prevailed: 521,992 votes (53 percent) to Freeman's 460,199 (47 percent). Hardy was the only Republican in modern times to have been elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana until Jay Dardenne won a 2010 special election to fill the unexpired term of Mitch Landrieu, who resigned to become Mayor of New Orleans. Hardy served under Democratic Governor (later Republican) Buddy Roemer. Hardy was defeated after a single term as lieutenant governor in the 1991 general election and retired to his law practice.[citation needed]

Seeking other offices[edit]

Freeman ran unsuccessfully for the Eighth Congressional District seat in the 1988 jungle primary. He finished a weak third with 14,814 votes (11 percent). The district, which was scrapped effective with the 1992 elections because the Louisiana population grew at less than the national average, reelected freshman Republican Clyde C. Holloway of Forest Hill in south Rapides Parish. Holloway defeated the black Democrat Faye Williams in the general election to secure the second of his three terms in the U.S. House. Freeman was particularly disheartened when he failed to carry his own Iberville Parish, where he finished with only 19 percent of the vote.

Freeman bounced back politically in 1990, when he was elected to a single six-year term as the Plaquemine city judge. He unseated the incumbent Judge William C. Dupont, a fellow Democrat, 2,180 votes (56 percent) to 1,705 (44 percent). In 1996, however, Dupont bounced back to defeat Freeman, 1,941 votes (52 percent) to 1,769 (48 percent), for the city judgeship. Freeman's elected political career ended at that point. In 2004, Dupont was elevated by voters to the Eighteenth Judicial District Court.

Personal life[edit]

Robert and Marianne D. Freeman (born c. 1936) live in Plaquemine. Freeman remains active in his community in promoting tourism, which had been his principal duty when he was lieutenant governor. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Louisiana Environmental Health Association.

On February 2, 2008, Freeman was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[5]


  1. ^ "Diedre Cruse, Sheriff Jessel Ourso named to Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame, July 28, 2010". Retrieved October 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Political Hall of Fame inducts 9 in Winnfield". Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  3. ^ "Aubrey W. Young". Monroe News Star, April 11, 2010. Retrieved April 13, 2010. 
  4. ^ "According to Lieutenant Governor Bobby Freeman: Cuts in State Government A Must", Minden Press-Herald, November 5, 1982, p. 1
  5. ^ "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". Retrieved August 22, 2009. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Marx Hoffman
Louisiana State Representative from primarily Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes

Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman

Succeeded by
[Harry A. "Soup" Kember, Jr.
Preceded by
James Edward "Jimmy" Fitzmorris, Jr.
Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana

Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman

Succeeded by
Paul Jude Hardy
Legal offices
Preceded by
William C. Dupont
City judge in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana

Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman

Succeeded by
William C. Dupont