Jimmy D. Long

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Jimmy D. Long
Louisiana State Representative for Natchitoches Parish
In office
Preceded byRay Tarver
Succeeded byThomas Taylor Townsend
Personal details
BornJimmy Dale Long
(1931-10-06)October 6, 1931
Winnfield, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedAugust 9, 2016(2016-08-09) (aged 84)
Natchitoches, Louisiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Dorothy Griffin Long
RelationsGerald Long (brother)
Floyd W. Smith Jr. (cousin)
ChildrenJimmy D. Long Jr.
ParentsRuben Ray and Ruby Smith Long
1. At the time of his defeat in the 1999 nonpartisan blanket primary, Long was the "dean" of the Louisiana House of Representatives.
2. Long was cited in 2000 by the Shreveport Times as "One of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century in North Louisiana", based upon his thirty-two years of legislative service.
3. Along with the late Cecil J. Picard, a state senator and education superintendent, Long was considered the legislative "point man" on education.
4. In 2007, Long's brother, Gerald Long, turned Republican and defeated Taylor Townsend, the man who ended Jimmy Long's legislative career, for the District 31 seat in the Louisiana State Senate.

Jimmy Dale Long Sr. (October 6, 1931 – August 9, 2016) was a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 23 (Winn and Natchitoches parishes) from 1968 until 2000. He was the "dean" of the Louisiana House when he returned to private life. A recognized authority on educational policy, for sixteen years, he chaired the House Education Committee. Shreveport The ShreveportTimes named Long "One of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century in North Louisiana." He was a member of the Long political dynasty.


Long was born in Winnfield in Winn Parish, to Ruben Ray Long (1900–1966) and the former Ruby Smith (1906–1984). He was the third of eight sons. His paternal grandparents were Thomas Jefferson Long (1861–1948) and the former Mary Ella Wright (1864–1902). Gillis William Long (1923–1985), a former U.S. representative from the defunct Eighth Congressional District, was also a paternal grandson of Thomas Jefferson Long and hence Jimmy Long's third cousin.

Long attended public schools and graduated from Winnfield High School. One of his classmates was his distant cousin Floyd W. Smith Jr. (1932–2010), whose mother was a Long. Smith would enter local politics and became the mayor of Pineville in northern Rapides Parish in 1966.

After high school, Long enrolled at Northwestern State University (at the time "State College") in Natchitoches, where he majored in government. He served in the United States Navy from 1948-1955. He made his living as a grocery store owner and a cattle farmer. He is married to the former Dorothy Griffin (born 1934). Their son, Jimmy D. Long Jr. (born 1964), is an attorney in Natchitoches, who specializes in estate planning.

Point man on education[edit]

In the legislature, Long developed a close working relationship with state Senator Cecil J. Picard of Vermilion Parish in southwestern Louisiana, who was then the chairman of the Senate Education Committee. In 1996, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education appointed Picard as the state education superintendent. Long was called upon to deliver a eulogy at Picard's funeral in 2007.

As the chairman of the House Education Committee, Long also worked with then NSU President Robert A. Alost to establish the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts and the Louisiana Scholars' College, the state's designated honors college in the arts and sciences. Long also assisted NSU in the development of innovative programs and was instrumental in the appropriation of funding for the institution.

Long was a member of the Southern Regional Education Board and served as Louisiana's delegate to the Education Commission of the States.

During his legislative tenure, Long was cited by the Louisiana press corps as being among the "most effective" of all legislators. He has been a member of the board of directors of the NSU Foundation, and he has received honorary memberships in the Blue Key International Honor Society and Graduate 'N' Club. Long was inducted into the NSU Hall of Distinction.

In 2003, Long was among the inductees into the NSU Hall of Distinguished Educators, being given the "Friend of Education" honor. In 2004, Long and the former State Senator Leopold Caspari of Natchitoches were selected as co-recipients of the President's Distinguished Service Award from NSU. The then university President Randall J. Webb said that he was "honored to recognize both of these exceptional men. Each of them played a significant role in the growth and development of Northwestern State University. [They] understood the importance of education to the state of Louisiana. They also set an example by giving of themselves through public service."

Long's fellow honoree Caspari, termed "the father of the Normal," was instrumental in the founding of the teacher's college which became NSU and the placement of the school in Natchitoches. A native of France, he immigrated to the United States in 1848 and settled in Cloutierville in south Natchitoches Parish. A farmer and businessman, he moved to Natchitoches in 1858. Caspari, who served for some three decades in both the Louisiana House and Senate, is honored by the naming of Caspari Hall and Caspari Street on the NSU campus.

Jimmy and Dorothy Long reside in Natchitoches. He is a Southern Baptist. In 2004, Long contributed to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Neely Kennedy, the Louisiana state treasurer, who since switched to Republican affiliation and lost his bid for the United States Senate in 2008.

Defeat in 1999[edit]

In 1963, Long ran unsuccessfully for the Louisiana House, having been defeated by the Natchitoches dentist, Dr. Ray Tarver in the Democratic primary. In 1967, Long unseated Tarver in the primary and thereafter, he won seven consecutive elections, often with minor opposition. However, he was surprisingly defeated for a ninth term in the House in the 1999 nonpartisan blanket primary by his fellow Democrat, Thomas Taylor Townsend, who is a nephew and law partner of former Democratic State Senator Donald G. Kelly of Natchitoches. Long received 7,447 votes (49 percent) to Townsend's 7,643 (51 percent). The defeat was stunning in that Long had been unopposed in 1995 but had faced competition in 1991. Long was among the last members of his political family to have held public office in Louisiana. Taylor Townsend in turn was reelected in 2003. Two years after his defeat, Long was appointed by Republican Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster Jr. to the University of Louisiana board. The board members themselves named him chairman.

During his last term in the House, one of Long's colleagues was his cousin, Mike Smith, the area state senator from Winnfield.

In 2000, Long was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.

After he left the legislature, Long served on the 16-member University of Louisiana System board until his term expired on December 31, 2012. He was not reappointed by then Governor Bobby Jindal.[1]

A Republican Long[edit]

Gerald Long, a younger brother of Jimmy Long, was elected as a Republican to the Louisiana State Senate (District 31) in the October 20, 2007, jungle primary. Long defeated Democrat Taylor Townsend, who had ended his brother's House career eight years earlier. The Louisiana Prolife Alliance endorsed Gerald Long in the race. Prolife spokesman Dan Richey, himself a former state senator, said the group opposed Townsend because of his past support of human cloning. Gerald Long is one of the few members of the legendary Long family to have made the plunge from Democrat to Republican affiliation. He is also the first Republican to represent traditionally Democratic Natchitoches Parish in the legislature since Reconstruction. He succeeded his Democratic cousin, Mike Smith, who was term-limited in the 2007 election.

Republican Rick Nowlin of Natchitoches defeated former Natchitoches Mayor Joe Sampite (pronounced [dʒo sämpiːteː]), a Democrat, in the November 17, 2007, general election for the historically Democratic District 23 House seat vacated by Taylor Townsend and formerly held by Jimmy Long. Nowlin overpowered Sampite, 4,609 (55 percent) to 3,766 (45 percent) in a low-turnout election. In the primary Nowlin had also led Sampite, 4,849 (35 percent) to 4,598 (33 percent). Nowlin was unseated in District 23 in 2011 but later named president of Natchitoches Parish.

The 2007 legislative elections marked the first time in modern history that Natchitoches would be represented by Republicans in both chambers of the state legislature.

Death and legacy[edit]

Long died at the age of eighty-four on August 9, 2016 when his car was struck by another vehicle while Long was leaving his driveway.[2]

In 2017, state Senator Francis C. Thompson of Delhi introduced legislation to name the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Long's honor. As the chairman of the House Education Committee, Long was among those instrumental in the establishment of the institution. After strong support in the state Senate, the renaming legislation passed the House Education Committee despite some opposition from alumni who object in part to the school having such a lengthy name.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jindal names eight new USL board members, January 3, 2013". Monroe News Star. Archived from the original on 2013-02-16. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Johnson, Chevel (August 9, 2016). "Former state lawmaker Jimmy Long Sr. dies in auto accident". The Republic. Archived from the original on August 11, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  3. ^ "Politicians try to rename Louisiana school for politician; alumni push back". New Orleans Times-Picayune. June 2, 2017. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
Preceded by
Ray Tarver
Louisiana State Representative for District 23 (Natchitoches and Winn parishes)

Jimmy Dale Long Sr.

Succeeded by
Thomas Taylor Townsend