Rodney Alexander

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Rodney Alexander
Rep. Rodney Alexander.jpg
Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs
Incumbent
Assumed office
September 30, 2013
Governor Bobby Jindal
Preceded by David LaCerte (interim)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – September 27, 2013
Preceded by John Cooksey
Succeeded by Vance McAllister
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 13th district
In office
1988–2002
Preceded by Mike Tinnerello
Succeeded by James R. Fannin
Jackson Parish Police Juror
In office
1972–1988
Personal details
Born Rodney McKinnie Alexander
(1946-12-05) December 5, 1946 (age 67)
Bienville, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political party Democratic (1988–2004)
Republican (2004–present)
Spouse(s) Nancy Sutton Alexander
Children Three children
Residence Quitman, Jackson Parish, Louisiana
Alma mater Jonesboro-Hodge High School
Louisiana Tech University
University of Louisiana at Monroe
Occupation Insurance agent
Religion Southern Baptist
Military service
Service/branch Air Force Reserve Command emblem U.S. Air Force Reserve
Years of service 1965–1971
Unit Reserves

Rodney McKinnie Alexander (born December 5, 1946) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who has served as the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs since 2013; previously he was the U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 5th congressional district from 2003 to 2013. First elected as a Democrat, he changed parties 30 minutes before the filing deadline on 6 August 2004, ensuring that no Democrat could run against him. He was re-elected as a Republican five times. His district covered twenty-four parishes in roughly the northeast quadrant of the state but stretched much further south as a result of the 2010 census.

On August 6, 2013, Alexander announced that he would not seek a seventh term in the House in the 2014 congressional elections. He cited his weariness with partisanship in Washington, D.C. as the primary reason for his decision to retire.[1] On August 7, Alexander moved up his timetable for departure from Congress. He resigned his seat effective September 27; a special election was held to replace him, and an upset victory went to a political newcomer without support from the Republican leadership, Vance McAllister, a businessman from Monroe.

Alexander joined the administration of Governor Bobby Jindal as the new secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.[2]

Background[edit]

Alexander was born in the village of Bienville in Bienville Parish to the former Mary Crawford and James Earl Alexander.[3] In 1964, he graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School in Jonesboro in Jackson Parish, which is often cited as his hometown. He then attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, but he left college to work for his family construction company so that his wife could instead earn a degree.

Alexander served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1965 to 1971.[citation needed] He owned a construction company from 1964 to 1981. From 1972 to 1988, he was a member of the Jackson Parish Police Jury (equivalent to county commission in other states). He was an insurance agent prior to entering Congress.

Alexander left the police jury to represent District 13 in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1988 until his election to Congress in 2002. While in the state House, he served as the chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee. In this position, her shepherded to passage the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP), which assists mothers and children with basic health care and insurance needs.

Alexander enrolled in college courses intermittently for forty-five years. When the University of Louisiana at Monroe began to offer online courses, he enrolled for two years and graduated from ULM with a degree in general studies in 2009.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

2002

Alexander won his seat in 2002 as a Democrat, but ran in 2004 as a Republican, changing parties on 6 August 2004, only three months before the election and only 30 minutes before the filing deadline, ensuring that no Democrat could challenge him. The move was derided by Democrats Robert Matsui and Mary Landrieu as being "cowardly".[4]

2004

On August 4, 2004, he registered to run as a Democrat, but changed his registration to Republican two days later. He then defeated a fellow Republican, the late Jock Scott of Alexandria in the open primary that November.[4] In 2006, he defeated the Democrat Gloria Williams Hearn, wife of the psychologist George E. Hearn of Pineville, Louisiana.

2010

Alexander defeated Richard Todd Slavant of Monroe in the Republican closed primary by a margin of nearly 9-1. He faced Independent Tom Gibbs, Jr., of Ouachita Parish in the November 2 general election and won easily. No Democratic candidate had filed for the position, once held by such long-serving party members as Jerry Huckaby and Otto Passman.

Alexander joined the Tea Party Caucus during this campaign.

2012

Alexander drew two last-minute challengers in his successful 2012 bid for a sixth term in the U.S. House.[5] Alexander handily prevailed with 202,531 votes (77.8 percent). The Libertarian Clay Steven Grant received 20,194 votes (7.8 percent), and the No-Party candidate, Ron Ceasar, polled 37,486 votes (14.4 percent).[6]

During the 2012 election Alexander’s campaign raised a total of $1,235,114. $942,083 were spent leaving the campaign with a surplus of $295,079 and no debt.[7] Major contributors to Alexander’s campaign came from a variety of business interests including the crop production industry, the oil and gas industry, commercial banks, and general contractors. Top individual contributors include Adams and Reese, the Livingston Group, O’Neal Gas, and Kadav Inc.

Tenure[edit]

At the commencement of the 111th Congress, Alexander received new subcommittee assignments including the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), and he retained his seat on the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administrations, and Related Agencies (Agriculture). Alexander’s Interest group ratings are high in pro-life, agriculture, budgeting and business. He has very low ratings by the NAACP and ACLU and other civil rights oriented groups or groups for minorities. Alexander also has low ratings by environmental groups.

His speeches include “Party of Paychecks” where he speaks on the nations food-stamp necessity increase and speaks against "out-of-control government spending" and unemployment. Many of Alexander’s other speeches include warning against tax increases and in support of religious freedom and prayer in public.

Alexander's voting record shows a history of voting against tax law amendments on a variety of matters. He has also voted “Nay” on many extensions for relief or aid, regulations, and has voted “Yay” to prohibition of tax increase. In 2012 he voted for several pro-business, anti-environmental bills such as the Stop the War on Coal Act and the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act. He has also voted to support small business through the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act. Cumulatively, Alexander has missed 266 of 7521 roll call votes during his time in office. This 4% miss rate is slightly higher than the national median of 2.5%.[8]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus membership[edit]

Interest group ratings[edit]

Alexander has received favorable ratings from pro-life groups such as the Right to Life Committee and received low ratings from Planned Parenthood. Alexander has also received favorable reviews from business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. In addition he has strong support from agricultural groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation which gave him a 100 percent rating in 2011 and the Sportsman and Animal Owners Voting Alliance.[9] Alexander has been given low ratings by civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the ACLU as well as environmental groups like the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.


Endorsements[edit]

Alexander was endorsed by Americans for Legal Immigration, Louisiana National Federation of Independent Business, National Federation of Independent Business, Chamber of Commerce, and the National Rifle Association. The National Federation for Independent Business named Alexander a “Guardian of Small Business” to acknowledge his strong voting record in favor of small businesses.[10]

Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs[edit]

On September 30, 2013, Alexander became Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs under Governor Bobby Jindal.[11]

Political future[edit]

On August 13, 2013, Alexander said that he may run for governor in 2015, when Jindal is term-limited. Other Republicans expected in that contest are Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy, and possibly U.S. Senator David Vitter. Democratic State Representative John Bel Edwards of Amite in Tangipahoa Parish is also expected to file for governor.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Alexander's wife, the former Nancy Sutton, is a long-time educator. They have three children and several grandchildren.

On January 30, 2010, Alexander, along with the late Charlton Lyons of Shreveport, former state Representative Risley C. Triche of Napoleonville, and former State Senator Randy Ewing, also of Jackson Parish, was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[13] Alexander is a Southern Baptist.[14]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Cooksey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th congressional district

2003–2013
Succeeded by
Vance McAllister
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Tinnerello
Louisiana State Representative
from Jackson Parish

1988–2002
Succeeded by
James R. Fannin

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