Robert J. Barham
|Robert Jocelyn Barham|
|Secretary of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries|
|Preceded by||Bryant Hammett|
|Louisiana State Senator from District 33 (Claiborne, Morehouse, Union, and West Carroll parishes)|
|Preceded by||Willie E. Crain|
|Succeeded by||Michael Arthur "Mike" Walsworth|
January 25, 1949 |
|Spouse(s)||Melba Pipes Barham (born 1954)|
|Children||Robert Erle Barham, Rebecca Barham, Henry Barham|
Robert Jocelyn Barham (born January 25, 1949) is a large-scale farmer from Morehouse Parish who has been appointed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as the secretary of the state's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He is also a former Republican member of the Louisiana State Senate who represented District 33 (Claiborne, Morehouse, Union, and West Carroll parishes), all of which border Arkansas in the northernmost section of his state.
In an interview published on January 1, 2008, Barham said that his major LDWF issues during the next four years are coastal restoration and controlling invasive aquatic vegetation in lakes and waterways. "We'll be on the front lines of coastal restoration. It's a huge project. It's going to have an impact on fisheries, oyster leases, the environment — but we have no choice. We have to do it."
His environmental background
As LDWF secretary, Barham succeeds Bryant Hammett, a Democrat from Ferriday, who served as a state representative from 1992 to 2006. Hammet was named to the position late in 2006 by outgoing Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.
When Barham was a boy, his father, Erle McKoin "Ninety" Barham (1916–1976), organized a group of Morehouse Parish landowners who established the Cooley Wildlife Refuge, which became the biggest bird-banding site in Louisiana. Barham fished, hunted, and explored the rivers, streams, lakes and woods of northeastern Louisiana as a teenager and later the entire state as an adult.
Leslie L. Glasgow (1914–1980), the assistant U.S. Secretary of the Interior in the administration of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, chose young Barham to work at Glacier National Park in northernmost Montana. Earlier, Glasgow had been a reform director of the Louisiana Wild Life and Fisheries (1966–1968) and a professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Barham told the Monroe News-Star that his experience at Glacier park was "amazing. I was mentored by people like my dad and (Glasgow), who knew the importance of our natural resources. Louisiana has 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of Wildlife Management Areas. Another early mentor of Barham was Grits Gresham (1922–2008), the sports journalist who once hosted ABC's The American Sportsman and was a long-time advocate of saving the Louisiana wetlands.
Barham received the 2009 Outstanding Legislator of the Year Award from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the 1999 National Award for Conservation of Natural Resources from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He was also honored with the John D. Newsom Award for Wildlife Stewardship.
At the conclusion of his last regular legislative session in 2007, Barham told an interviewer that Louisiana should concentrate on anti-litter efforts and highway construction. He lamented that his state is one of the most littered in the nation and urged a public education and law enforcement angle to tackle the problem. He also said that the state should pave the first mile of each highway connecting to Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas to the highest grade possible so as to give travelers coming into Louisiana a favorable first impression.
Republican State Representative Mike Walsworth of District 15, based about West Monroe, was elected to succeed Barham in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007; he defeated the outgoing Democratic representative from District 14, Charles R. McDonald of Bastrop.
Early years, education, military
Barham was born in Monroe to Erle Barham and the former Rosalie Smith (1913–1999). He grew up on the family plantation in Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish along with brother, Erle Edwards Barham (born 1937), who held this same Senate seat as a Republican from 1976 to 1980. Edwards Barham was the first Republican elected to the Louisiana Senate since Reconstruction. Edwards and Robert Barham were cousins of the late Democratic State Senator Charles C. Barham, who represented an adjoining district based about Ruston from 1964 to 1972 and 1976 to 1988.
Barham graduated from Oak Ridge High School. He received a bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In 1970, he entered the United States Army for a two-year stint as a medic in South Vietnam. In 1999, he became a colonel in the Louisiana National Guard. Barham also obtained a master's degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then Northeast Louisiana State University). In 1994, he completed the "Agricultural Leadership Program" at LSU. He began full-time farming, Robert Barham Farms, Inc., in Oak Ridge in 1972. Barham and his wife, the former Melba Pipes (born 1954), have three children, Robert Erle, Rebecca, and Henry.
Barham in municipal and state politics
Barham was elected mayor of Oak Ridge (population 142 in the 2000 census) in 1983 and served until 1988, when he became a village council member instead. He vacated the municipal post when he took his state Senate seat late in 1994. His affiliations include Ducks Unlimited, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Rifle Association, Louisiana Cotton Producers, and the American Legion. He is a member of the Masonic lodge and is also a Shriner. Barham is Baptist.
Barham was first elected as a Democrat in a special election for an unexpired term held on November 8, 1994, a heavily Republican election year nationally. He defeated then fellow Democrat Johnny Dollar, 13,932 votes to 10,765 He was reelected with 93 percent of the vote in the fall of 1995 for a full four-year term and was unopposed in 1999. Thereafter, he switched parties. In 2002, he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the vacant Fifth District U.S. House seat. He was unopposed again for the state Senate in 2003. Barham was term-limited and was ineligible to have sought reelection to the Senate in 2007.
As a lawmaker, Barham was particularly identified with efforts to halt the dissolution of Louisiana's coastal wetlands. He noted in a Senate speech that people in his section of the state often work offshore by the week and commute to their homes. Barham and other members of his family are known as strong conservationists. His father helped to establish the Tensas Wildlife Refuge near Delhi in Richland Parish.
The congressional race of 2002
Barham sought to succeed U.S. Representative John Cooksey of Monroe in 2002, when Cooksey made an ill-fated run for the U.S. Senate. He entered the jungle primary with two other major Republican candidates, former Congressman Clyde C. Holloway of Forest Hill in Rapides Parish, who had served in the defunct Eighth District from 1987 to 1993, and the young Monroe businessman Dewey Lee Fletcher, who had been Cooksey's former chief of staff. Barham ran fourth in the primary, with 34,522 (19 percent). The seat went to the then Democrat Rodney Alexander of Jackson Parish, who less than two years later switched his affiliation to Republican.
- ""Senate to consider honor for Barham", May 5, 2010". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, May 8, 2010.
- "Robert J. Barham". enlou.com. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
- Philip Timothy, Death of Grits Gresham: http://www.thetowntalk.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080219/NEWS01/802190311
Willie E. Crain (D)
|Louisiana State Senator for the 33rd District (Claiborne, Morehouse, Union, and West Carroll parishes)
Robert Jocelyn Barham (R)
Michael Arthur "Mike" Walsworth (R)