|53rd Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana|
November 22, 2010
|Preceded by||Scott Angelle|
|Succeeded by||Billy Nungesser (Elect)|
|Secretary of State of Louisiana|
November 10, 2006 – November 22, 2010
|Preceded by||Al Ater|
|Succeeded by||Tom Schedler|
|Member of the Louisiana Senate
from the 16th district
|Preceded by||Kenneth Osterberger|
|Succeeded by||Bill Cassidy|
|Born||John Leigh Dardenne, Jr.
February 6, 1954
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
|Alma mater||Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge|
John Leigh "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. (born February 6, 1954), has been Louisiana's 53rd lieutenant governor since November 22, 2010. He won a special election to the position held in conjunction with the regular November 2 general election. At the time, Dardenne was Louisiana secretary of state. Formerly, Dardenne (pronounced DAR DEN) was a member of the Louisiana State Senate from the Baton Rouge suburbs, having served from 1992 until his election as secretary of state on September 30, 2006.
Dardenne was reelected to a full term as secretary of state in the October 20, 2007, nonpartisan blanket primary. He received 758,156 votes (63 percent) to 373,956 (31 percent) for the Democrat Robert Wooley. A "No Party" candidate, Scott Lewis, received the remaining 64,704 votes (5 percent). Dardenne won fifty-eight of the state's sixty-four parishes. He outpolled gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, a fellow Republican, in raw votes and won sixty-one parishes to Jindal's sixty.
On November 2, 2010, Dardenne was elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana, defeating opponent Caroline Fayard, a young Democrat originally from Denham Springs, in the 2010 State of Louisiana elections. Tom Schedler, Dardenne's chief deputy in the secretary of state's office, succeeded him in performing the responsibilities of the secretary of state when Dardenne was sworn in as lieutenant governor.
Dardenne is the son of the late John Leigh Dardenne, Sr., and the former Janet Lucille Abramson. He is married to the former Catherine "Cathy" McDonald (born 1955), and they have two sons. Dardenne is Jewish and the first known Jewish state constitutional officer in Louisiana since U.S. Senators Judah P. Benjamin and Benjamin F. Jonas in the 19th century. Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana's current attorney general, is also Jewish. and was first elected to that statewide position in 2007, a year after Dardenne was elected to fill an unexpired term for Secretary of State. Dardenne is a graduate of Baton Rouge High School and Louisiana State University, from which he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. He procured a degree too from the Louisiana State University Law Center. He was elected student body president while at LSU.
Dardenne is active in social and civic endeavors in his native Baton Rouge and through non-profit organizations throughout Louisiana. He volunteers with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the annual Labor Day Telethon, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the River City Festivals Association. He serves as chairman of the U.S. National Senior Sports Classic (the Senior Olympics) and has served as president of ten non-profit organizations in the greater Baton Rouge Community.
Dardenne has won "Dishonorable Mentions" for his entries in the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a competition where contestants submit bad opening lines to imaginary novels. Dardenne also won the Most Vile Pun award in the contest.
In 1987, Dardenne narrowly lost his first race for the District 15 state Senate seat to the Democrat Larry S. Bankston, one of three sons of former Democratic state party chairman and centenarian Jesse Bankston. Dardenne then won an election for a seat on the East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council and held that seat until 1992.
In 1991, Dardenne ran the District 16 seat in the state Senate vacated by the retiring Democrat-turned-Republican Kenneth Osterberger. In the primary, Dardenne trailed fellow Republican Lynda Imes, the District 8 member of the East Baton Rouge Metro Council. However, in the general election, Dardenne defeated Imes. Dardenne quickly gained a reputation as a champion of reform and a thorn in the side of Democratic Governor Edwin Washington Edwards. However, few of his reform proposals were enacted.
Following the election of Republican Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., as governor in 1995, Dardenne became the governor's floor leader and began to pass landmark legislation. He continued to push unsuccessfully for reforms in the administration of Foster's successor, Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. He did help pass constitutional amendments on term limits, coastal erosion, and victims' rights. He worked for the creation of a single State Board of Ethics, spearheading reform of the river pilots' system, and reducing government waste as the chairman of the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee. In 2003, Dardenne was named the "National Republican Legislator of the Year".
Secretary of state candidacy and transition
Dardenne ran in the September 30 special election to complete the term vacated by the death of former Secretary of State W. Fox McKeithen, a fellow Republican who died in the summer of 2005. McKeithen had been temporarily succeeded by his friend, former Democratic State Representative Al Ater of Ferriday in Concordia Parish, at the time an assistant secretary of state under McKeithen, who chose not to run for the post in the special election.
The major candidates in the race were Dardenne, Democratic state Senator Francis C. Heitmeier of New Orleans and Republican former State Chairman Mike Francis of Lafayette and Crowley. The race was characterized by attacks on Dardenne from Francis (both taking pro-life positions) over predominantly social issues, including a vote that Dardenne cast in the 1990s for language in the federal Hyde Amendment which allows for federally funded abortions in the case of rape or incest. These exceptions have been included since 1977 in response to women's rights advocates, while abortion opponents argue that they punish the unborn for the crimes of the fathers. Dardenne maintained that his vote was required to allow the flow of Medicaid funds into Louisiana.
Despite these attacks, Dardenne was able to project himself as the candidate of reform in the race, and racked up huge numbers of votes in the Baton Rouge area, the suburbs of New Orleans and even into the heavily Democratic city of New Orleans itself. He campaigned in North Louisiana with assistance of Aubrey W. Young, a former state official and grass roots organizer originally from Monroe whose service dated back to the role of aide de camp under Governor John J. McKeithen, the father of Fox McKeithen.
Dardenne received 30 percent of the vote in the primary; Heitmeier, 28 percent, and Francis, 26 percent. Minor candidates took the rest of the vote. A Dardenne v. Heitmeier runoff loomed. Francis chose not to endorse either candidate and stated his intentions to run for the seat in the 2007 regular election. Francis did not seek the position in the primary held on October 20, 2007. About two weeks into the special election runoff campaign, Heitmeier withdrew. He cited the fact that his New Orleans black voter base had been decimated because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that without help from national Democrats, victory over Dardenne would be impossible. Perhaps, his action was premature in light of the national Democratic sweep in the 2006 midterm elections.
Dardenne, Francis, and two minor Republican candidates together received 54% of the vote in the city of New Orleans, the power base for the state Democratic Party. Two months earlier, two Republican candidates for mayor of New Orleans together barely polled 10 percent of the vote.
Secretary of state
Shortly after becoming secretary of state, Dardenne announced that he would personally participate in anti-litter efforts even though such activities are not within the domain of his office. Dardenne told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that he saw too much litter as the traveled the state in his campaign for secretary of state. "The landscape of our state is ... a window to the world. Anything we can do to call attention to this problem, we will do", Dardenne said.
He also successfully pushed to cancel admission fees to the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport and the Old State Capitol and Old Arsenal Museum in Baton Rouge, saying that the financial loss from museum fees will be absorbed in his departmental budget through other cost reductions and that "people ought to be able to enjoy museums free of charge." Dardenne has promoted tourism through his office and has taken a special interest in the creation of the Delta Music Museum and the companion restoration in 2008 of the Arcade Theatre in Ferriday.
Dardenne pushed for election reform. He opposes the establishment of satellite voting areas throughout the state and elsewhere for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Dardenne proposed that poll commissioner fees be increased, election day hours be shortened, and an early voting period to compensate for the reduced hours on election day.
Dardenne also objected to widespread satellite voting for Katrina evacuees on the basis that it would impose an overwhelming and impossible burden on election workers, stating that "if this bill passes, you are saying to them [election workers], you have to run an additional election for Orleans Parish. The 2006 mayoral race received special consideration because no other elections were held on that day. Dardenne did support the reinstatement of absentee voting provisions from the election. In December 2007, Dardenne named a former state Senate colleague, Tom Schedler of St. Tammany Parish, a Republican, as his chief deputy. In 2008, Dardenne was mentioned as a possible United States Senate candidate against incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, but the Republican candidate was State Treasurer John N. Kennedy, a Democrat who switched to the GOP before qualifying for reelection in 2007.
On February 12, 2010, Dardenne announced his intention to run for Lieutenant Governor in the special election held on October 2. Leading a multi-candidate field with 28% of the ballots cast, Dardenne advanced to face Democrat Caroline Fayard, a previously political unknown who enjoyed the backing of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and trailed with 24% of the vote. The two were to meet in the November 2 general election. Three other Republican candidates were eliminated in the primary — singer Sammy Kershaw (19%), St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis (8%), and Louisiana Republican Party state chairman Roger F. Villere, Jr. (4%) — along with Democrat Butch Gautreaux (4 percent), then a Louisiana state senator. Kershaw, Davis, and Villere endorsed fellow Republican Dardenne, as Gautreaux supported fellow Democrat Fayard. Results of the primary election—in the cases of Kershaw, Gautreaux, and Davis—were localized. Kershaw's appeal was in his home base of Acadiana and in rural areas where Country music is popular. Gautreaux's vote was largely in a radius around Morgan City. Davis won a strong plurality, 47%, in his home parish of Saint Tammany. Kershaw's rural appeal helped him carry 31 of the 64 parishes, more than any other candidate.
Republican chairman Villere's endorsement of Dardenne, which came after months of criticizing the frontrunner, was met with incredulous statements like those of political scientist Pearson Cross of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette:
- Maybe he thinks that you can at the end of the day say, "Well, we just need to all come together." It just seems odd.
Dardenne and Fayard appeared on the October 15 episode of the news magazine Louisiana: The State We're In televised by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and in an October 22 forum sponsored by the Baton Rouge League of Women Voters.
On October 4, 2010, Southeastern Louisiana University political scientist Michael Kurt Corbello summarized the runoff election between veteran officeholder Dardenne and political newcomer Fayard as "a very interesting, competitive race."
Political columnist John Maginnis joked that
- Dardenne, rather, needs to raise the stakes of this election, emphasizing experience and readiness. Otherwise, should this become a beauty contest, he's got problems.
The runoff campaign soon turned controversial as Dardenne described Fayard as a supporter of U.S. President Barack H. Obama, a proponent of gay marriage, and an opponent of the death penalty, while Fayard, who was 32 years of age and had never held political office, countered that Dardenne represented "the same old crowd" of Louisiana politics.
Stephanie Grace offered an explanation for Dardenne's emphasis on national political themes as an accommodation to "Tea Party forces" in the backdrop of their having worked to defeat Hunt Downer, a veteran officeholder upset by a newcomer, Jeff Landry, in Louisiana's 3rd congressional district's 2010 Republican primary. For further information about the 2010 election, please see Louisiana state elections, 2010#Lieutenant Governor.
The 2011 regular election for a four-year term as lieutenant governor was similarly raucous, as Dardenne was challenged by fellow Republican Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish and the son of the late former Republican Party state chairman William A. Nungesser. In a low-turnout race, Dardenne defeated Nungesser, 504,228 votes (53.1 percent) to 444,750 ballots (46.9 percent).
In 2012, Dardenne complained of the lack of funds needed for tourism advertising, a main prerogative of the lieutenant governor's office in Louisiana. On June 15, 2012, Governor Jindal used his line item veto to strip $2 million for tourism advertising from Dardenne's office budget. Jindal also took aim at more than $500,000 from the departmental operating funds of Louisiana State Treasurer John N. Kennedy.
2015 governor's race
Dardenne ran for governor of Louisiana in the October 24, 2015 primary election but finished in a fourth place with 166,553 votes (15 percent). The contest then headed to a November 21 general election between the top vote-getter, Democrat John Bel Edwards, a state lawmaker from Tangipahoa Parish, and his distant runner-up, Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter. Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Dardenne's predecessor as lieutenant governor, ran third but fell 41,200 votes short of obtaining a general election berth to the second-place candidate, Senator Vitter. Dardenne in turn trailed Angelle by more than 48,300 votes.
On November 5, Dardenne endorsed Democrat Edwards in the general election race against Dardenne's intraparty rival, David Vitter. He made the announcement at "Free Speech Alley" in front of the LSU Student Union building in Baton Rouge. Dardenne's backing of Edwards drew fire from state Republican chairman Roger Villere and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who termed the endorsement a betrayal: "You cannot claim to be a conservative fighter for Louisiana principles and publicly endorse an Obama liberal like Mr. Edwards," the two chairmen wrote. Bel-Edwards then won the election with more than 56 percent of the vote 
- Louisiana State Senate, District 15, 1987
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, October 24, 1987
|Larry S. Bankston||Democrat||15,401 (46%)||Runoff|
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||10,313 (31%)||Runoff|
|Johnny H. Dykes||Democratic||3,790 (11%)||Defeated|
|"Chuck" Hall||Republican||2,046 (6%)||Defeated|
Second Ballot, November 8, 1987
|Larry S. Bankston||Democratic||12,619 (51%)||Elected|
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||12,332 (49%)||Defeated|
- East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council, District 12, 1988
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, October 1, 1988
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||5,596 (62%)||Winner|
|Craig S. Watson||Democratic||2,175 (24%)||Defeated|
|"Pam" Atiyeh||Republican||1,005 (11%)||Defeated|
|Mike Kolakowski||Democratic||285 (3%)||Defeated|
- Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 1991
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, October 19, 1991
|Lynda Imes||Republican||21,679 (48%)||Runoff|
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||18,642 (42%)||Runoff|
|Francis Pellegrin||Republican||2,098 (5%)||Defeated|
Second Ballot, November 16, 1991
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||26,120 (52%)||Elected|
|Lynda Imes||Republican||23,934 (48%)||Defeated|
- Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 1995
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||–||Unopposed|
- Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 1999
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||–||Unopposed|
- Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 2003
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, October 4, 2003
|Jay Dardenne||Republican||34,679 (78%)||Elected|
|Chris Warner||Republican||9,758 (22%)||Defeated|
- Secretary of State of Louisiana, 2006
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, September 30, 2006
|"Jay" Dardenne||Republican||191,562 (30%)||Runoff|
|Francis C. Heitmeier||Democratic||179,153 (28%)||Runoff|
|"Mike" Francis||Republican||168,185 (26%)||Defeated|
|Mary Chehardy||Republican||56,225 (9%)||Defeated|
Second Ballot, November 7, 2006
|Francis C. Heitmeier||Democratic||–||Withdrawn|
- Secretary of State of Louisiana, 2007
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, October 20, 2007
|"Jay" Dardenne||Republican||757,821 (63%)||Elected|
|"R." Rick Wooley||Democratic||374,199 (31%)||Defeated|
|Scott Lewis||Independent||64,723 (5%)||Defeated|
- Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, 2010
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, October 2, 2010
|"Jay" Dardenne||Republican||180,944 (28%)||Runoff|
|Caroline Fayard||Democratic||159,507 (24%)||Runoff|
|"Sammy" Kershaw||Republican||126,166 (19%)||Defeated|
|Kevin Davis||Republican||51,542 (8%)||Defeated|
|James "Jim" Crowley||Democrat||51,461 (8%)||Defeated|
Second Ballot, November 7, 2010
|"Jay" Dardenne||Republican||719,271 (57%)||Elected|
|Caroline Fayard||Democratic||540,649 (43%)||Defeated|
- Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, 2011
Threshold > 50%
First Ballot, October 22, 2011
|John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr.||Republican||504,228 (53%)||Elected|
|Billy Nungesser||Republican||444,750 (47%)||Defeated|
All election results taken from the Louisiana Secretary of State website
- With equal stress on both syllables as in French—IPA /dar·dən/.
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- Campaign Website
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- Anderson, Ed (2010-10-04). "Lieutenant governor race is down to two: Jay Dardenne and Caroline Fayard". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. A2. Retrieved 2010-10-04.
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- Grace, Stephanie (2010-10-19). "Partisan divide comes late to Louisiana". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. B5. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Anderson, Ed (2011-10-01). "Dardenne-Nungesser slugfest is second to none on ballot: Duel makes race for governor looktame". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). pp. A1, A4. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
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- "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
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- Greg Hilburn (November 5, 2015). "Dardenne endorses Edwards, called traitor by GOP". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
- "John Bel Edwards: Democrat’s victory over David Vitter in governor race stuns deep-red Louisiana". The Independent. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jay Dardenne.|
|Member of the Louisiana State Senate
from the 16th district
|Secretary of State of Louisiana
|Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana