Billy Chandler

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Billy Ray Chandler
Louisiana State Representative from District 22 (Grant, La Salle, Winn, and Rapides parishes)
In office
May 1, 2006 – January 9, 2012
Preceded by Thomas David "Tommy" Wright
Succeeded by Terry R. Brown
Member of the Grant Parish School Board, Colfax, Louisiana, USA
In office
Personal details
Born (1937-10-17) October 17, 1937 (age 79)
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Marcia F. Chandler (born 1938)
Children Three children
Occupation Retired insurance agent in Dry Prong, Grant Parish, Louisiana
Religion Baptist

Billy Ray Chandler (born October 17, 1937),[1] is a retired businessman from Dry Prong in Grant Parish, who is a Republican former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Prior to redistricting, Chandler's District 22 encompassed seventy-two precincts from Grant, La Salle, and parts of Winn and northern Rapides parishes in the north central portion of the state. Chandler initially won his seat as a Democrat in a special election for state representative held on April 29, 2006.


Chandler graduated from Dry Prong High School and attended Louisiana College in Pineville. A 24-year member of the Grant Parish School Board, Chandler and his wife, Marcia F. Chandler (born October 28, 1938), have three children and three grandchildren. He is a retired state manager of the Woodmen of the World Insurance Company. He is a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Dry Prong. In addition to his previous school board tenure, Chandler served for four years as a Dry Prong alderman.[2]

Election of 2006[edit]

Chandler succeeded fellow Democrat Thomas D. "Tommy" Wright of Jena, the seat of La Salle Parish, who had esigned earlier in 2006. Chandler as a Democrat defeated Republican Tony Kevin Owens (born June 22, 1960), who had relocated to Jena from Winnfield. Chandler received 5,034 votes (54 percent) to Owens' 4,234 votes (46 percent).[3]

On April 1, 2006, five Democrats and four Republicans competed in the first round of balloting for Wright's former seat. The Democrats polled a combined 57 percent of the vote to the GOP candidates' 43 percent. The top candidates were Owens, with 1,858 (18 percent) and Chandler, with 1,574 (16 percent).[4] In the runoff, Owens doubled his votes, but Chandler tripled his share of the tabulation.[5]

District 22 was created in 1972, with Democrat Richard S. Thompson of Colfax as its first representative. The district frequently votes Republican in races for U.S. president, governor, or U.S. senator but had always sent a Democrat to the state legislature, with the exception of 1992-1996, when it was represented by the Independent Stephen L. Gunn of Montgomery, also in Grant Parish. Gunn did not seek a second term, and Thomas Wright was elected to succeed him.

Owens had also lost to Wright in the 2003 general election. The seat became vacant when Wright resigned as part of a plea bargain involving a misdemeanor obscenity charge at Lake Buhlow in Pineville.[6]

Chandler's victory was made possible by his strong showing as the favorite son in Grant Parish. Chandler told the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, the largest newspaper in central Louisiana, in a victory statement on election night that he would "represent all parties, wherever they may be, all communities in the district, for one common good, to advance meeting the needs in this district. The constituents have plainly made [it clear] that they haven't been pleased in the past with [Wright's representation]."[7]

Then Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington hailed Chandler's victory. "As a Democrat, Billy Chandler displays the moral values that we all share: helping the less fortunate, providing for our families and caring for our seniors. He will fight hard in Baton Rouge to provide better schools for our children, create good-paying jobs for our working men and women, and secure retirement benefits for our seniors," Whittington said.

Election of 2007[edit]

Chandler was elected to a full term in the legislature in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007. Then a Democrat, he defeated Ernie Vallery, a Democratic attorney and LSU and Tulane Law School graduate (born 1954) from Pollock in Grant Parish, and the Republican Brandon Carnell Vickers (born 1972) of Jena. Chandler polled 9,855 votes (64 percent) to 1,719 (11 percent) for Vallery and 3,768 (25 percent) for Vickers.[8]

Misspelled "Billy" Chandler campaign sign in Natchitoches Parish (2011)

Election of 2011[edit]

Shortly before the beginning of the 2011 special legislative session, Chandler switched to Republican affiliation, a move presumably motivated by the increasing Republican nature of his district. The configuration of District 22 has changed. Beginning in 2012, it encompass all of Grant Parish, most of LaSalle Parish and parts of Natchitoches, Red River, and Winn parishes. The small part of Rapides Parish was extracted from the district.[2]

In the general election held on November 19, 2011, new Republican Billy Chandler was unseated by Terry R. Brown, a retired employee in the real estate division of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and an Independent from Colfax. Brown prevailed over Chandler with 6,015 votes (52.4 percent) to 5,465 (47.6 percent).[9]

In the primary held on October 22, 2011, Chandler had led a three-candidate field with 5,790 votes (40.8 percent). Brown trailed with 4,724 votes (33.3 percent). Republican James Timothy "Tim" Murphy (born 1952) polled the remaining but critical 3,666 votes (25.9 percent).[10]

Murphy is a Natchitoches businessman who graduated in 1970 from Montgomery High School in Montgomery and thereafter attended Northwestern State University for three years. Murphy called himself "the Real Conservative" in the race, noting that Chandler "switched from a Democrat to a Republican after he saw that the new district would be very conservative. I have a problem with that, and you should too."[11] Voters retired Chandler but did not elect Murphy, having instead chosen its second Independent representative in twenty years.


  1. ^ Net Detective, People Search
  2. ^ a b "Chandler seeking reelection to House District 22 seat". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Louisiana legislative election returns, April 29, 2006". Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Louisiana legislative election returns, April 1, 2006". Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 30, 2006
  6. ^ Alexandria Daily Town Talk, December 30, 2005
  7. ^ Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 30, 2006
  8. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 20, 2007". Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Louisiana general election returns, November 19, 2011". Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 22, 2011". Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ Tim Murphy Campaign Site, Facebook
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas D. "Tommy" Wright
Louisiana State Representative for District 22
(then Grant, La Salle, Winn, and Rapides parishes)

2006 – 2012
Succeeded by
Terry R. Brown