Sydney B. Nelson

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Sydney Banks Nelson
Louisiana State Senator from District 37 (Caddo and Bossier parishes)
In office
Preceded by Jackson B. Davis
Succeeded by Gregory J. Barro
Personal details
Born (1935-03-12) March 12, 1935 (age 82)
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Louisiana, USA
Political party Democratic Party / later Republican
Spouse(s) Gail Anderson Nelson
Children Sydney B. Nelson
Residence Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma mater

University of Oklahoma

Louisiana State University Law Center
Occupation Retired Attorney
Nelson attempted to win the position of Louisiana State Senate President in 1988 regardless of the outcome of the gubernatorial election and was halted by incoming Governor Buddy Roemer, who tapped Allen Bares of Lafayette for the top position in the Senate.

Sydney Banks Nelson (born March 12, 1935) is an attorney from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who served from 1980 to 1992 as a Democratic member of the Louisiana State Senate. He represented District 37 in Caddo and Bossier parishes in northwest Louisiana.[1]

Early years[edit]

A native of Shreveport, Nelson received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1957 from the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma. He graduated thereafter from the Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge. He was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1963.[2]

In 1977, Nelson joined John L. Hammons to establish the firm Nelson & Hammons. Cornell Rushing Flournoy (female) practices in the firm with Hammons. Located a block from the Caddo Parish Courthouse, Nelson & Hammons emphasizes medical malpractice and personal injury.[3]

Legislative service[edit]

In 1979, Nelson was initially elected to succeed the Conservative Democrat Jackson B. Davis, still a semi-retired Shreveport lawyer who did not seek another term that year. In 1988, during his last term in office, Nelson launched an unofficial candidacy for Senate president. The incumbent, Sammy Nunez of Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans, had been a state representative first elected in 1964 and a senator since 1968. Nelson had traveled across the state for several years prior to 1988, having visited senators in their home districts in an attempt to secure commitments for Senate president.[4]

State Representative Ron Gomez of Lafayette, in his memoirs entitled My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative (2000), describes Nelson, accordingly:

"Nelson, very professorial looking with his wire-rimmed glasses, was extremely meticulous in his approach to legislation. Although I thought his voting record was too liberal and trial lawyer-oriented, I liked the way he had conducted his campaign for Senate president. He was going after the presidency no matter who was elected governor [in 1987]."[5]

Gomez said that he learned that Nelson had asked Allen Bares, a more conservative member from Lafayette, to run for president pro-tem of the Senate in conjunction with Nelson's bid for president. "That way the president would be from north Louisiana, and the pro-tem from the south. Of course, [Governor Buddy] Roemer, like Nelson, was from the Shreveport area. Their meeting with Roemer was intended, of course, to get his endorsement and support [for their dual candidacies]."[6]

Instead, Roemer picked Bares for Senate president and Jimmy Dimos of Ouachita Parish for House Speaker.[7] In Louisiana, unlike most states, the governor personally selects the legislative leadership. Therefore, Nelson's "candidacy" for Senate president had always been dependent on gubernatorial preference.[8] In 1992, Nunez returned as Senate president, as Nelson left office.

Nelson was unopposed in the 1987 nonpartisan blanket primary, the last time his name appeared on the ballot. In 1990, Nelson opposed legislation authored by Senator Mike Cross to ban abortion in cases of rape and incest and impose fines of up to $100,000 and ten years imprisonment on the practitioners thereof. Governor Roemer declared the legislation incompatible with the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. His veto[9] alienated large numbers of his socially conservative electoral base. The legislature subsequently overrode Roemer's veto with an even larger margin than in the original bill – another slap at Roemer. State Representative Woody Jenkins of Baton Rouge, one of the leading abortion foes in the legislature, said the prohibition regarding rape and incest is needed to prevent women from filing false claims in such matters. Nelson, however, said that he opposed the abortion ban because of the problems of unwanted children and defective births.[10] In 1991, United States District Judge Adrian G. Duplantier of New Orleans, a former state senator, ruled that the measure was in conflict with Roe v. Wade.

Nelson did not seek a fourth term in the primary election held on October 19, 1991. Instead, the Democrat Gregory J. Barro of Shreveport led the field with 11,224 votes (34 percent). Republican Ronald Bradford "Ron" Fayard (October 1, 1946 – March 7, 2011), a Realtor, Mississippi native,[11] and civic leader [12] from Bossier City, trailed with 10,228 votes (31 percent). The Democrat and later a Republican judge, Parker Self (born 1959) of Bossier City received 29 percent of the vote; a second Republican candidate, Shreveport attorney Leroy Havard Scott, Jr. (1922-2003), held the remaining 5.5 percent of the ballots cast.[13] In the general election, Barro defeated Fayard, 22,616 (58.9 percent) to 15,803 (41.1 percent).[14] Barro's victory occurred on the same day that Edwin Edwards staged his fourth-term comeback in a large victory over former Ku Klux Klansman and State Representative David Duke, who ran as a Republican but without the support of most party leaders. Governor Buddy Roemer had been eliminated in the primary with a third-place finish.

Nelson today[edit]

Nelson and his wife, the former Gail Anderson (born March 1936), have a son, Sydney S. Nelson (born 1961).[15] Nelson is or has been the vice chairman of the foundation of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport.[16]

In 2014, the Louisiana secretary of state lists Nelson as a Republican registered to vote in East Baton Rouge Parish.[17]


  1. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2012" (PDF). Retrieved April 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Sydney B. Nelson". Retrieved April 24, 2010. 
  3. ^ "NelsonHammons" (PDF). Retrieved April 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000, p. 183; ISBN 0-9700156-0-7
  5. ^ Ron Gomez, pp. 183-184
  6. ^ Ron Gomez, p. 184
  7. ^ Ron Gomez, p. 185
  8. ^ Ron Gomez, p. 185
  9. ^ Roemer vetoes abortion bill", Minden Press-Herald, July 27, 1990, p. 1
  10. ^ "Abortion: Roemer vows veto, Jenkins, an override", Minden Press-Herald, June 28, 1990, p. 3
  11. ^ "Ronald Bradfvord Fayard obituary". Shreveport Times, March 11, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Real Estate Guide Directory in Bossier City". Retrieved April 24, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Louisiana election returns". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 19, 1991. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Louisiana election returns". November 16, 1991. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ People Search & Background Check
  16. ^ "LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport "Leadership"". Retrieved April 24, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Plug in Sydney Nelson, March 1935". Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Jackson B. Davis
Louisiana State Senator from District 37 (Caddo and Bossier parishes)

Sydney Banks Nelson

Succeeded by
Gregory J. Barro