Suzanne Haik Terrell

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Suzanne Haik Terrell
Louisiana Elections Commissioner
In office
2000–2004
Preceded by Jerry Marston Fowler
Succeeded by Position abolished
Member of the New Orleans City Council
In office
1994–2000
Preceded by Peggy Wilson
Succeeded by Scott Shea
Personal details
Born 1954
New Orleans, Orleans Parish
Louisiana, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Walter Lee Terrell
Alma mater Newcomb College of Tulane University

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Occupation Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Suzanne Haik Terrell (born 1954) is the first and only Republican woman elected to statewide office in Louisiana. A practicing attorney, Terrell was the state's final commissioner of elections, a position which she held from 2000-2004. In 2002, she was the Republican nominee for United States Senate, losing a hotly contested and closely watched race against incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. In 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush appointed Terrell to a position as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Terrell is currently a partner with the New Orleans firm of Hangartner, Rydberg, Terrell and Hart.

Early life[edit]

A native of New Orleans, Terrell is the daughter of noted ophthalmologist George Michael Haik, Sr., and the former Isabel Saloom, both deceased.

In 1976, Terrell received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Newcomb College of Tulane University. In 1984, she received her Juris Doctor degree from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. While at Loyola, Terrell served on the editorial board of the Loyola Law Review.

Political career[edit]

Terrell was a Republican member of the New Orleans City Council from 1994 to 2000. She won her first term on March 5, 1994, when she defeated the Democrat Mary Jane Fenner in District A, 20,007 (52.4 percent) to 18,152 (47.6 percent).[1] Terrell ran without opposition to her council seat in 1998 and stepped down midway in her term after election in November 1999 as Louisiana elections commissioner.

In the race for elections commissioner, she defeated in the general election or runoff contest, a fellow Republican, Louis E. "Woody" Jenkins, a newspaper owner from Baton Rouge. In Louisiana's first run off with two Republicans, Terrell polled 437,817 votes (59 percent) to Jenkins' 302,261 (41 percent). Jenkins had led in the nonpartisan blanket primary, 26 percent to 22 percent. Incumbent Democrat Jerry Fowler of Natchitoches, engulfed in scandal, ran third and was eliminated from the second contest. In 1996, Jenkins had opposed Terrell's later Senate opponent, Mary Landrieu, but he lost by about four thousand disputed votes.

As elections commissioner, Terrell streamlined department operations and advocated the merging of her office with the secretary of state, who already oversaw some elections operations. While in office Terrell's department won national recognition for its voting and registration systems. She was successful in abolishing her office as her term ended in 2004. No other Louisiana politician has abolished their current, occupied office.

2002 Senate election[edit]

Terrell challenged freshman Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's bid for reelection. Terrell made it into the general election with Landrieu, finishing in the primary ahead of Congressman John Cooksey of Monroe and Tony Perkins, a state representative from East Baton Rouge Parish.

The Landrieu-Terrell matchup was the last Senate race decided that year. Terrell's campaign attracted national attention, including visits from President George W. Bush and his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney. Terrell had been Co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Louisiana and was a member of the National Finance Committee. She was an elector for the Bush-Cheney slate in 2000.

Landrieu was reelected largely on the basis of her 79,000-vote plurality in Orleans Parish. She polled roughly 42,000 votes ahead of Terrell statewide, defeating her 52-48 percent.

In a debate with Landrieu in 2002, the senator lashed out at Terrell and told her the Senate race would be "her last campaign", but it was not. In 2003, Terrell ran unsuccessfully for attorney general of Louisiana, losing to a Democrat backed by the Landrieu family, Charles C. Foti, Jr., the former Orleans Parish criminal sheriff. Foti received 54 percent of the vote to Terrell's 46 percent.

In 2005, President Bush appointed Terrell to a post at the United States Department of Commerce following Hurricane Katrina. In her position, Terrell was actively involved in economic development initiatives in the Gulf Region.

Married since 1976 to Walter Lee Terrell, an ophthalmologist, Terrell has three daughters.


References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Orleans municipal election returns, March 5, 1994". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Peggy Wilson
Member of New Orleans City Council, District A

Suzanne Haik Terrell
1994–2000

Succeeded by
Scott Shea
Preceded by
Jerry Marston Fowler
Louisiana Elections Commissioner

Suzanne Haik Terrell
2000–2004

Succeeded by
Office abolished; duties assumed by Secretary of State of Louisiana