Suzanne Haik Terrell

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Suzanne Terrell
Louisiana Commissioner of Elections
In office
January 4, 2000 – January 12, 2004
Governor Murphy Foster
Preceded by Jerry Fowler
Succeeded by Position abolished
Member of the New Orleans City Council
from District A
In office
May 1, 1994 – January 4, 2000
Preceded by Peggy Wilson
Succeeded by Scott Shea
Personal details
Born (1954-07-08) July 8, 1954 (age 62)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Walter Lee Terrell
Children 3 daughters
Parents Dr. George Michael, Sr., and Isabellr Saloom Haik
Alma mater Tulane University
Loyola University, New Orleans
Religion Roman Catholicism

Suzanne Haik Terrell (born July 8, 1954) is the first and only Republican woman elected to statewide office in Louisiana. A practicing attorney, Terrell was the state's final commissioner of elections, a position which she held from 2000 to 2004. In 2002, she was the Republican nominee for United States Senate, losing a hotly contested and closely watched race against incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. In 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush appointed Terrell to a position as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the United States Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. Terrell is currently a partner with the New Orleans firm of Hangartner, Rydberg, and Terrell.

Early life[edit]

A native of New Orleans, Terrell is the daughter of ophthalmologist George Michael Haik, Sr., and the former Isabel Saloom, both deceased.

In 1976, Terrell received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Newcomb College of Tulane University. In 1984, she received her Juris Doctor degree from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. While at Loyola, Terrell served on the editorial board of the Loyola Law Review.

Political career[edit]

From 1994 to 2000, Terrell was a Republican member of the New Orleans City Council. She won her first term on March 5, 1994, when she defeated the Democrat Mary Jane Fenner in District A, 20,007 (52.4 percent) to 18,152 (47.6 percent). The seat was vacated by Republican Peggy Wilson, who was instead elected to one of the two at-large council seats.[1] Terrell ran without opposition to her council seat in 1998 and stepped down midway in her term after election in November 1999 as Louisiana elections commissioner.

In the race for elections commissioner, she defeated in the general election or runoff contest, a fellow Republican, Woody Jenkins, a newspaper owner from suburban Baton Rouge. In Louisiana's first runoff with two Republicans, Terrell polled 437,817 votes (59 percent) to Jenkins' 302,261 (41 percent). Jenkins had led in the nonpartisan blanket primary, 26 percent to 22 percent. Incumbent Democrat Jerry Fowler of Natchitoches, engulfed in scandal, ran third and was eliminated from the contest. In 1996, Jenkins had opposed Terrell's later Senate opponent, Mary Landrieu, but he lost by about four thousand disputed votes.

As elections commissioner, Terrell streamlined department operations and advocated the merging of her office with the secretary of state, who already oversaw some elections operations. While in office Terrell's department won national recognition for its voting and registration systems. She was successful in abolishing her office as her term ended in 2004. No other Louisiana politician has abolished their current, occupied office.

2002 Senate election[edit]

Terrell challenged freshman Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's bid for reelection. Terrell finished second in the first-round vote, beating two other Republicans, Congressman John Cooksey and State Rep. Tony Perkins. Landrieu finished first but fell short of a majority.

Since the runoff would not happen until December, the Landrieu-Terrell matchup was the last Senate race decided that year. Terrell's campaign attracted national attention, including visits from President George W. Bush and his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney. Terrell had been co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Louisiana and was a member of the National Finance Committee. She was an elector for the Bush-Cheney slate in 2000. The national party had taken an interest in Terrell's campaign because it could have made the difference in their chances at retaking the Senate. (As it happened, the GOP would take back the Senate even before the Louisiana race had been decided.)

Landrieu was re-elected largely on the basis of her 79,000-vote plurality in Orleans Parish. She polled roughly 42,000 votes ahead of Terrell statewide, defeating her 52-48 percent.

Later political career[edit]

In a debate with Landrieu in 2002, the senator lashed out at Terrell and told her the Senate race would be "her last campaign", but it was not. In 2003, Terrell ran unsuccessfully for attorney general of Louisiana, losing to the former sheriff of the Orleans perish, Charles C. Foti, Jr., 54 to 46 percent. Foti had been backed by the Landrieu family.

In 2005, President Bush appointed Terrell to a post at the United States Department of Commerce following Hurricane Katrina. In her position, Terrell was actively involved in economic development initiatives in the Gulf Region.

Personal life[edit]

Married since 1976 to Walter Lee Terrell, an ophthalmologist, Terrell has three daughters who were featured in an ad for her 2002 Senate campaign.

Her brother, Dr. Barrett George Haik (1951-2016), was a professor of ophthalmology at Tulane University and the medical director of the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, at which he trained residents from Tulane, Louisiana State University Medical School and Ochsner Medical Center, founded by the famous surgeon Alton Ochsner. Haik later held other high-level ophthalmology assignments in Memphis, Tennessee, including work at the Hamilton Eye Bank, for which he raised more than $100 million. Terrell has two surviving brothers, George M. Haik, Jr., and Dr. Kenneth Haik and wife, Diana.[2]


  1. ^ "New Orleans municipal election returns, March 5, 1994". Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Barrett George Hail, M.D.". New Orleans Times Picayune. Retrieved July 25, 2016. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Peggy Wilson
Member of the New Orleans City Council
from District A

Succeeded by
Scott Shea
Preceded by
Jerry Fowler
Louisiana Commissioner of Elections
Position abolished
Party political offices
Preceded by
Woody Jenkins
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Louisiana
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
John Kennedy