John J. Hainkel Jr.

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John Joseph Hainkel Jr.
Louisiana State Representative
for Orleans Parish
In office
Preceded byAt-large delegation
Succeeded byJames St. Raymond
Speaker of the Louisiana
House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byE.L. "Bubba" Henry
Succeeded byJohn Alario
Louisiana State Senator for District 6
(portions of Jefferson, Orleans, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa parishes)
In office
Preceded byThomas A. Casey
Succeeded byJulie Quinn
President of the Louisiana State Senate
In office
Preceded byRandy Ewing
Succeeded byDonald E. Hines
Personal details
Born(1938-03-24)March 24, 1938
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
DiedApril 15, 2005(2005-04-15) (aged 67)
Poplarville, Mississippi
Political partyDemocrat-turned-Republican
ChildrenThree children
Alma materDe La Salle High School

Tulane University

Tulane University Law School

John Joseph Hainkel Jr. (March 24, 1938 – April 15, 2005), was a legislator from New Orleans, Louisiana, who died in office after thirty-seven years of service. He was the first person in his state and the second in United States history to have been elected as both Speaker of his state House of Representatives and President of his state Senate.[1][2]


Hainkel graduated in 1956 from the Roman Catholic De La Salle High School and then Tulane University and Tulane University School of Law, all in New Orleans. In addition to being known as a raconteur, Hainkel was a trial and appellate attorney. In 1967, he was the third partner in Porteous, Toledano, Hainkel, and Johnson, then the second oldest law firm in Louisiana specializing throughout its history in insurance defense. Law partner Ben Toledano, like Hainkel, left the Democratic Party to run in his case, unsuccessfully, as a Republican for mayor of New Orleans in 1970 and the United States Senate in 1972.[3]

Hainkel was first elected in 1968 as a Democrat to the Louisiana House. His service hence dated back to the second term of Governor John McKeithen. Like many other Louisiana Democrats over time, he wound up switching to the more conservative Republican Party. He originally represented a compact, affluent Uptown New Orleans House district. At the time of his death, Hainkel's legislative service had begun before ten then-serving Louisiana state legislators had been born.

Legislative reformer[edit]

New to the legislature, Hainkel joined a group of reformers who came to be known as the "Young Turks," including his predecessor as Speaker, Edgerton L. "Bubba" Henry, a Democrat from Jonesboro in Jackson Parish. When David C. Treen became the state's first GOP governor since Reconstruction in the 1979 election, Hainkel, then a conservative Democrat, was Treen's choice to serve as Speaker of the House. He served in that post from 1980 to 1984, but he was replaced by Representative John Alario, a Westwego (Jefferson Parish) Democrat when Governor Edwin Washington Edwards won a third term in the 1983 nonpartisan blanket primary by unseating Treen.

Alario switched parties for the 2011 elections in Louisiana. On October 25, 2011, Governor Bobby Jindal indicated Alario as the governor's preference for the Louisiana Senate presidency. On election by his senatorial colleagues, Alario joined Hainkel as the only persons in Louisiana and the fourth in the United States to have been presiding officers of both houses of their state legislature.[4][5]

In the seventy-four legislative sessions that he attended, Hainkel was a champion of a more independent legislature. After joining the "Young Turks" movement of the 1970s, he became known as strong foe of Governor Edwin Edwards on gambling issues.

Hainkel was an opponent of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was rejected in a key House committee in 1976. When the ERA failed to gain ratification after an extended deadline, Hainkel, then Speaker, addressed a gathering of the opponents held in Baton Rouge on June 30, 1982. Hainkel noted that many states "unthinkingly" ratified the ERA when it passed Congress early in 1972 because that "was the thing to do" then. Hainkel said that he objected to placing accession rights and family law subservient to federal law. "Already in this state, credit laws have been changed, head and master changed to joint management, and through commerce and economics, we've addressed ourselves to problems. We've had increased equality on the basis of sex, but we've had it in the proper form, handled in the statutes of this state," Hainkel said.

Hainkel was elected to the Senate in 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003. He served as that body's president during the second term of Republican former Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster Jr., from 2000 to 2004.

A colorful lawmaker[edit]

With his front-row seat in the chamber, Hainkel was one of the legislature's most colorful figures. He wound up his career as a "bridge-building" Republican who put the interests of his state ahead of party. His Senate district encompassed only a sliver of his original Uptown base but included portions of Jefferson, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa parishes, including Hammond's Southeastern Louisiana University for which he became a legislative champion.

"A New Orleanian by birth, demeanor, appearance and conduct, he was really a good ol' boy in lifelong disguise," recalled then State Senator Jay Dardenne, a Baton Rouge Moderate Republican, another of Hainkel's close legislative allies.

In the words of Ed Anderson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "Hainkel was a legislative leader and deal-broker who could be moved to tears when recognizing an old friend or meeting a disabled child."

Anderson continued, "He moved at ease between the world of gentility and the tobacco-chewing country store crowd. He frequently wore madras clothes with mismatched shirts, whether he was in the halls of power or at his St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church parish.

"He knew almost all the roadside stands, bars, and restaurants in the district. He had a flair for making a point during debate, punctuating his speeches with animated arm-flailing and near-screams. He once brought raw pork chops to the Senate floor when he went on a tear against 'pork barrel-spending' in a bill."

Anderson added that Hainkel "had a joie de vivre.... Some viewed him as a curmudgeon, but he had a softer side and was always ready to party or enjoy a cookout, a parade, a fair, or a festival. He embraced enemies as friends after a day of legislative battle, literally -- sometimes hugging them as his hoarse laugh filled a room," much as Tip O'Neill sometimes told President Ronald Reagan, whom he opposed on most legislative matters, that they could have a drink together whenever it was after 6 p.m.

Hainkel was a chef in the Louisiana tradition but was most famous for his homemade fig icecream.

Hainkel's death[edit]

Hainkel's longtime law partner, William Porteous, said that Hainkel had been at a meeting near Poplarville in Pearl River County in southwestern Mississippi on April 14, 2005, with other Republican lawmakers and was found dead in his bed the next morning. "They were at a camp. He just didn't wake up," Porteous explained.

A coroner's report revealed that Hainkel asphyxiated. Apparently, fluid blocked his breathing passages as he slept and entered his lungs. (He did not succumb to heart failure, as originally thought.) He had spent his last evening cooking for friends, eating, and recounting political "war stories."

"I couldn't picture John Hainkel going out any other way," said then Senator Tom Schedler, a Mandeville Republican and one of his closest friends, who later became Louisiana secretary of state.

Hainkel, who was divorced, was survived by three children and five grandchildren.

Southeastern Louisiana University[edit]

Hainkel, although a graduate of Tulane University, also took a special interest in Southeastern Louisiana University, which, as a public institution, he represented as state senator. His Senate District 6 straddled Lake Pontchartrain, causing Hainkel to quip that he represented more fish than people. Hainkel originated the Pontchartrain Cup, a trophy traded between Tulane and Southeastern on the basis of which team wins the annual baseball game.

Hainkel, more than anyone else, was responsible for gaining over $5 million of state funding for renovation of the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in the Historic District of Hammond and the Columbia's acquisition by Southeastern Louisiana University. The operatic performance room within the spacious theatre is named Hainkel Hall, and a plaque commemorating Senator Hainkel appears prominently in the lobby.[6]

Hainkel was honored in 1996 in Hammond with Southeastern Louisiana University's "Golden Ambassador Award," a prestigious designation given for "outstanding service, achievement, and/or humanitarian efforts."

Legacy and honors[edit]

In June 2006, a bust of Hainkel was placed in the rotunda of the Louisiana State Capitol. The Senate's briefing room in the Capitol has also been named for Hainkel. Gambit Weekly noted, "With theater-style seating and large plasma monitors, the John Hainkel Room is among the most luxurious in the Capitol."[7]

Shortly after Hainkel's death, Congress, on a motion from Louisiana Republican Bobby Jindal (who would later be elected governor of Louisiana), declared that Hainkel's death "is a loss for me and for all Louisiana. He was a good friend and one of the most supportive people I know. He was always ready to lend a helping and guiding hand, whatever the situation may be." Later, at Jindal's request, Congress voted to rename the post office in Hammond to honor Hainkel.[8]

Hainkel is also the eponym of the John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehab Center, a New Orleans unit of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Hainkel championed funding for the facility during his time in the Senate.

The Picayune's Anderson noted that Hainkel loved traditions: his birthday at a Tulane baseball game, for instance, and frequent parties for Tulane, LSU, and Southeastern sports contests, in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, or Hammond. Anderson called him a "one-man tourism bureau" who promoted his love of Louisiana wherever he went. "His politicking was one-on-one: stumping the corner stores, roadside stands and restaurants of his district, shucking oysters at a school fair or tossing pumpkins in a parade."

Senator Robert J. Barham, an Oak Ridge (Morehouse Parish) Republican, said of his fallen colleague: "It will be surreal when you show up for the session and look for John Hainkel, and he won't be there."

"John Hainkel was comfortable in the package God gave him," said Jay Dardenne, who was elected Louisiana secretary of state in a special election on September 30, 2006, and subsequently became lieutenant governor and commissioner of administration.

The New Orleans Chapter of the Alliance for Good Government awarded him their Legislator of the Year award more than once and with their Special Award in 1983. The Associated Builders and Contractors of Louisiana named him Man of the Year in 1972; he was honored with the Louisiana/Mississippi Associated Press Margaret Dixon Award in 1980; as Alumnus of the Year of Tulane University, and as Alumnus of the Year of De La Salle High School. In 1988, Senator Hainkel was chosen Legislator of the Year by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. In 1999, Senator Hainkel was honored by the Tangipahoa Parish School Board for his leadership in providing for funding for public education.[9]

Hainkel was succeeded in the Louisiana Senate by fellow Republican Julie Quinn, who won a special election runoff in July 2005 against another Republican, Diane Winston, a state representative from Covington. After the district was considerably altered in the 2011 redistricting, Quinn did not seek reelection.

In 2002, Hainkel was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[10]


  1. ^ Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock of Franklin, the seat of St. Mary Parish, was both Speaker and, as lieutenant governor, was ex officio President of the state Senate, under the state Constitution of 1921. In 1974, Louisiana adopted a new state Constitution, which mandated that the President of the state Senate be elected by the senators, thus eliminating the lieutenant governor's ex officio role as Senate president. The lieutenant governor has since become largely the director of state tourism, recreation, and culture.
  2. ^ Mallory Horne of Florida was the first to have done so. [1]
  3. ^ "History of Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson LLP". Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  4. ^ "Ed Anderson, "Gov. Bobby Jindal endorses Sen. John Alario as his choice for Senate president", October 25, 2011". Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  5. ^ Libby Mitchell had accomplished the same feat in Maine in between Hainkel and Alario. [2]
  6. ^ "Hainkel profile on the Columbia Theatre web site". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  7. ^ Alford, Jeremy. "The 2005 Legislative Yearbook". Gambit. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  8. ^ [3][dead link]
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2009-06-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on July 3, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
At-large membership
Louisiana State Representative for District 89 (Orleans Parish)

John Joseph Hainkel Jr.

Succeeded by
James St. Raymond
Preceded by
E. L. "Bubba" Henry
Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives

John Joseph Hainkel Jr.

Succeeded by
John A. Alario Jr.
Louisiana State Senate
Preceded by
Thomas A. Casey
Louisiana State Senator for District 6 (portions of Jefferson, Orleans, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa parishes)

John Joseph Hainkel Jr.

Succeeded by
Julie Quinn
Preceded by
Randy Ewing
President of the Louisiana State Senate

John Joseph Hainkel Jr.

Succeeded by
Donald E. Hines