John Cooksey

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John Cooksey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Jim McCrery
Succeeded by Rodney Alexander
Personal details
Born (1941-08-20) August 20, 1941 (age 74)
Alexandria, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Residence Louisiana, United States
Occupation Ophthalmologist
Religion Methodist

John Charles Cooksey, M.D. (born August 20, 1941) is an ophthalmologist who was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana from 1997 to 2003.

Early life[edit]

Cooksey was born in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish in central Louisiana. He graduated from La Salle High School (La Salle Parish) in Olla, where his father operated a sawmill. He attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and received his M.D. degree in 1966. Much later, in 1994, he received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas in Austin. From 1967 until 1969, he was in the United States Air Force, largely in Texas but briefly in Thailand. He was in the Air Force Reserve from 1969 until 1972.


He was elected to Congress in 1996 and represented Louisiana's Fifth District for three terms. Cooksey first won the seat by defeating the Democratic state legislator Francis C. Thompson of Delhi in Richland Parish. Cooksey had edged past former U.S. Representative Clyde C. Holloway of Forest Hill in Rapides Parish in the jungle primary. In that campaign, Cooksey pledged to serve no more than three terms in the House, a pledge that he kept.[1]

Cooksey opposed abortion as a congressman but would not support efforts to address the issue through a constitutional amendment. He said that the nation already had too many "federal bureaucrats" making and interpreting policy, and he distrusted the use of constitutional amendments to address most public policies.

In 2002, Cooksey was an unsuccessful candidate in the Republican primary for the United States Senate seat still held by the Democrat Mary Landrieu. In the campaign, Cooksey made a derogatory remark about Arabs — comparing turbans to diapers fastened by fan belts [2] — which was attacked by his opponents as racist. He never overcame the blunder. In the November general election, the losing Republican candidate was Cooksey's intraparty rival, Suzanne Haik Terrell of New Orleans.

In addition to the reelection of Landrieu, the Democrats temporarily regained Cooksey's House seat in the same general election balloting. Democrat Rodney Alexander defeated Cooksey's choice, his former aide, Dewey Lee Fletcher, by fewer than one thousand votes. Alexander, however, defected to the GOP in 2004 and then defeated an intraparty rival, John Wyeth "Jock" Scott II, of Alexandria for the congressional seat.

Personal life[edit]

Cooksey retired from politics and resumed his medical practice. He and his wife, the former Ann Grabill (born 1943), have three children. He is Methodist and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim McCrery
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Rodney Alexander