|Louisiana House of Representatives (District 81 – Jefferson Parish)|
|Succeeded by||David Duke|
|24th Judicial District Court Judge in Jefferson Parish|
|Succeeded by||Cornelius E. "Conn" Regan|
|Justice of the Peace in Jefferson Parish|
|Born||Charles Vincent Cusimano II
|Spouse(s)||Kathleen F. Cusimano|
Katie Cusimano Blanchard
|Parents||Charles, I, and Violet Taranto Cusimano|
|Residence||Metairie, Jefferson Parish|
Cusimano is the son of Charles Cusimano, I, a New Orleans native (born September 29, 1927), and the former Violet Taranto (1928-2015). In addition to their one son, Charles, II, the Cusimanos had three daughters, Lisa Cusimano (formerly Lisa Brewer), Jan Simon (husband David), and Cathy Daigle (husband Keith). The senior Cusimano is an engineering graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, a former member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, and the founder of Energy Corporation of America. Cusimano, I, has also been active in Republican Party affairs and was a major fund raiser for former Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr. Cusimano was already contributing to the Ronald W. Reagan campaign in 1980, while his son was a Democrat in the state legislature.
At the age of twenty-five, just as he launched his law practice, Cusimano was elected in 1979 as a Democrat to the District 81 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He switched to Republican affiliation at the start of his second term, 1984-1988. He served on the House committees on Criminal Justice, Civil Law, and Natural Resources. On October 24, 1987, he was elected again, having defeated fellow Republican Steve Little, 9,650 (65.2 percent) to 5,165 (34.8 percent) in the nonpartisan blanket primary.
Cusimano was described by his House colleague, Ron Gomez of Lafayette, as "a diminitive firebrand from Metairie." In House debate over the New Orleans Saints's lease of the Louisiana Superdome, Cusimano proposed an amendment that would restrict the team's concession revenues to a minimum level, after which the proceeds would be split 50-50 with the state. The amendment, strongly opposed by the Saints' owner, Tom Benson, appeared to have passed until Governor Edwin Washington Edwards, in an unprecedented move, came to the chamber to plead with the lawmakers to reverse themselves. Edwards claimed that the Cusimano amendment would cause the Saints, then a repeatedly losing team, to leave New Orleans and practically make the state the laughingstock of the nation. After the visibly shaken Edwards spoke, Representative Raymond Laborde of Marksville, his friend from childhood, stepped to the microphone and moved that the previous amendment be deleted. No debate was allowed on the previous question, and Benson and Edwards prevailed.
Cusimano resigned from the legislature in 1988 to become a 24th Judicial District Court judge for Division 1. He won this position with 43,854 votes (75 percent) over the Democrat Melvin "Mel" Zeno, who polled 14,580 votes (25 percent). Cusimano held the judgeship until 2007.
His resignation from the legislature triggered a special election in District 81. Several Republicans sought to succeed Representative Cusimano, including future Louisiana Republican Party state chairman Roger F. Villere, Jr., a Metairie floral shop owner. However, the two candidates who reached the runoff were John S. Treen, brother of former Governor David C. Treen, and David Duke, nationally known as a former figure of the Ku Klux Klan and a political activist. Duke narrowly won the race over Treen, who held the backing of most state and national Republicans, including U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush and former President Reagan, who opposed Duke's candidacy. Duke claimed that Treen, if elected, was willing to see property tax increases in the suburban New Orleans district. Among those working in the John Treen campaign was Beth Rickey of New Orleans, a moderate member of the Republican State Central Committee who later exposed Duke's continuing neo-Nazi ties.
In 1998, Cusimano ran for the Louisiana Supreme Court, a ten-year term, against Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., a Democrat. Calogero led with 77,766 votes (49.5 percent), and Cusimano polled 64,711 ballots (41.2 percent). A third candidate held the remaining 8 percent of the vote. Because Calogero nearly won the position outright in the primary, Cusimano decided not to contest the general election.
On the district court, Judge Cusimano was instrumental in revamping the criminal justice computer system. In 2006, he did not seek reelection and was succeeded by Republican Cornelius E. "Conn" Regan, a narrow winner over Danyelle Taylor, also a Republican. In 2008, Cusimano was unopposed for the position of Fifth Justice of the Peace Court in Jefferson Parish. Cusimano said that he will modernize justice-of-the-peace operations, with electronic case management to allow litigants to file electronically and monitor the status of their case via the Internet.
Cusimano and his wife, Kathleen F. Cusimano (born 1955), have eight children.
- "Charles Cusimano, November 1953". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- "Violet Cusimano Obituary". Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
- "Charles V. Cusimano: Hall of Distinction, 1998-1999". eng.lsu.edu/alumni. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
- "Metairie, LA Political Contributions by Individuals". city-data.com. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
- "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2016: Jefferson Parish Parish" (PDF). house.louisiana.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 6, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- "About Judge Charles V. Cusimano, II". fifthjpc.com. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
- "Louisiana election returns". sos.louisiana.gov. October 24, 1987. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000, pp. 134, ISBN 0-9700156-0-7
- Ron Gomez, pp. 134-137
- "Election Returns". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 1, 1988. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
- Douglas D. Rose, The Emergence of David Duke and the Politics of Race (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), p. iii (ISBN 978-0-8078-4381-9). See also Michael Zatarain, David Duke: Evolution of a Klansman (Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing, 1990), ISBN 978-0-88289-817-9.
- Patricia Sullivan, "Beth Rickey dies with an immune disorder and Crohn's disease," The Washington Post, September 16, 2009
- "Louisiana election returns". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 3, 1998. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- "Louisiana election returns". Louisiana Secretary of State. September 30, 2006. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- "Fall 2008 Candidate Guide for Jefferson Parish". League of Women Voters of New Orleans. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
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|24th Judicial District Court Judge in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
Charles Vincent "Chuck" Cusimano, II
Cornelius E. "Conn" Regan
|Louisiana State Representative for District 81 (Jefferson Parish)
Charles Vincent "Chuck" Cusimano, II