A. C. Clemons

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A. C. "Ace" Clemons, Jr.
Louisiana State Senate
Preceded by Arsene Stewart
Succeeded by Robert Gambrell "Bob" Jones
Personal details
Born (1921-04-16)April 16, 1921
Harris County, Texas
Died October 19, 1992(1992-10-19) (aged 71)
Houston, Texas
Nationality American
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1970)
Spouse(s) Mai Patterson Clemons
Children Two daughters
Occupation Businessman
Religion United Methodist Church
Military service
Service/branch United States Army Air Forces
Battles/wars World War II

A. C. "Ace" Clemons, Jr. (April 16, 1921 – October 19, 1992), was the first Republican to serve in the Louisiana State Senate since Reconstruction, after he switched his party affiliation in 1970, during his term. He was never elected to office as a Republican.

Clemons was elected as a Democrat in 1960, 1964, and 1968 from what is now District 14 in southwestern Louisiana, which then included portions of five parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis. This was part of the Acadiana region, made up of 22 parishes.

During and after Reconstruction, African Americans made up most of the membership of the Republican Party in Louisiana, and they were largely disenfranchised by the state at the turn of the 20th century. Following a trend among southern conservative white Democrats after federal civil rights legislation restored the ability of African Americans to vote in the region, Clemons switched his political affiliation in January 1970 to the Republican Party. He served under that affiliation during his final two years in the state Senate.

Early years and business[edit]

Named after his father, A. C. Clemons was born in 1921 to A.C., Sr., and Ance Clemons in the area known as "Hobby" because of its proximity to the Hobby Airport in Harris County near Houston, Texas. His family moved to Vinton near Lake Charles in Calcasieu (pronounced CAL CAH SHEW) Parish, where Clemons graduated from Vinton High School.

During World War II, Clemons attained the rank of captain in the United States Army Air Forces.

In 1947, Clemons founded Service Truck Lines in Jennings, the seat of Jefferson Davis Parish. In later years, he served as president of the Louisiana Motor Transportation Association and a regional vice president of the American Trucking Association. He served on the national advisory council of the Salk Institute. He was a member of the Masonic lodge.

State senate service[edit]

Clemons was elected to the state senate in 1960, 1964, and 1968 from what is now District 14 in southwestern Louisiana. At the time of his election, the district included portions of five parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis. This was part of the Acadiana region, made up of 22 parishes. As a senator, Clemons, along with a Louisiana House of Representatives colleague, William Boyd of Lake Charles, was an early leader in the fight to bring official recognition and licensing for chiropractors in Louisiana. Boyd was himself a chiropractor.

During his second and third terms, Clemons served with the Conservative Democrat Jesse Monroe Knowles of Lake Charles, the seat of government of Calcasieu Parish.

When Clemons switched from the Democratic Party in 1970, he and State Representative James Sutterfield, who had won a special election in New Orleans for a two-year term in the state house, were the only Republicans serving among the 144 members of both legislative chambers.[1]

Clemons' successor was Robert Gambrell "Bob" Jones, the son of former Governor Sam Houston Jones. Knowles and Jones both later switched to the GOP, but after they had ended their political careers in the state.

Clemons did not seek reelection in the 1971-1972 cycle. His fellow Republican Sutterfield was defeated that year when running for a full term in the state House. Clemons announced late in 1971 that he was considering running for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Edwards, but he did not file for the special election.[2]

Clemons considered running as a gubernatorial candidate but deferred to the GOP leaders' choice, Jefferson Parish attorney David C. Treen. Treen polled nearly 43 percent of the vote in the 1972 general election against the successful Democrat, then U.S. Representative Edwin Washington Edwards of Crowley, the seat of Acadia Parish. Edwards would ultimately serve four nonconsecutive terms as governor. Treen was elected in 1980, serving to 1984.

The first Republican elected to the Louisiana State Senate since Reconstruction was Edwards Barham of Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish. He served a single term from 1976 to 1980.

Death in Houston[edit]

Clemons was a member of the St. Luke United Methodist Church of Houston, where he and his wife, the former Mai Patterson (born 1930), resided at the time of his death. Clemons died in a Houston hospital. There were two daughters who were then residing in California. Services were held in the First United Methodist Church of Jennings. Clemons is interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Jennings.

The next Republican to hold the Clemons Senate seat, with some modification of the district, was Gerald Theunissen, a banker from Jennings.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2016" (PDF). house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Republican May Seek Edwards' Congress Seat", Minden Press-Herald, December 31, 1971, p. 1
Preceded by
Arsene Stewart
Louisiana State Senator from District 14 (then Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis parishes)

A. C. "Ace" Clemons, Jr. (alongside Guy Sockrider in first term and Jesse Monroe Knowles in second and third terms)
1960–1972

Succeeded by
Robert Gambrell "Bob" Jones