Bobby Freeman (politician)

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Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman Sr.
47th Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana
In office
March 10, 1980 – March 14, 1988
GovernorDavid Treen
Edwin Edwards
Preceded byJimmy Fitzmorris
Succeeded byPaul Hardy
Louisiana Representative for Iberville and West Baton Rouge
In office
1968–1980
Preceded byThomas Marx Hoffman
Herman J. Lowe
Succeeded byHarry J. Kember Jr.
Clyde Kimball
Plaquemine City Judge
In office
1990–1996
Preceded byWilliam C. Dupont
Succeeded byWilliam C. Dupont
Personal details
Born(1934-04-27)April 27, 1934
Plaquemine, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedMay 16, 2016(2016-05-16) (aged 82)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Cause of deathAneurysm
Resting placeSaint John The Evangelist Catholic Cemetery
in Plaquemine, Louisiana
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Marianne Drago Freeman (m. 1958–2016)
ChildrenLisa Freeman Guidry
Robert L. Freeman Jr.
ParentsAlbert Freeman
Rosa Borruano Freeman Rivet
ResidencePlaquemine
Iberville Parish
Alma materLouisiana State University
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
ProfessionAttorney, judge
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1956–1959

Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman Sr. (April 27, 1934 – May 16, 2016) was an American attorney in Plaquemine, Louisiana, who was the Democratic lieutenant governor of his state from 1980 to 1988. He was subsequently the Plaquemine city judge from 1990 to 1996. From 1968 to 1980, he had been a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Background[edit]

He graduated from Plaquemine Senior High School in 1952, where he engaged in boxing, with among others his classmate and friend Jessel Ourso, later the sheriff of Iberville Parish.[1] Freeman earned his bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was a member of the LSU boxing team and was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977.[2] He was the only college boxer to hold three consecutive Sugar Bowl boxing championship titles.

Freeman earned his L.L.B. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in New Orleans in 1965.

He served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1959 and worked for a chemical company from 1960 to 1961.

Early in his career, Freeman practiced law in the Plaquemine firm of Freeman and Pendley. He is a member of the Louisiana and American bar associations. He was chairman of the Plaquemine Planning and Zoning Commission from 1966–1968 and was also a member of the board of directors of the Louisiana Environmental Health Association.

Quarrels with Governor Treen[edit]

Freeman was a strong supporter of organized labor, which has a marked presence in his former state House district, an area which had not elected a Republican to the legislature since Reconstruction and remains one of the most overwhelmingly Democratic parts of Louisiana. Freeman supported Republican Governor Dave Treen's Democratic opponent, Louis J. Lambert Jr., then a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission from Ascension Parish, near Baton Rouge, in the 1979 gubernatorial general election. In his own race, Freeman ran far ahead of a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Russel C. "Russ" Kiger, II, then a field engineer for National Cash Register in Baton Rouge who endorsed the Treen platform.[3] Kiger finished with fewer than 47,000 votes in the primary, less than half the number of registered Republican voters in the state at the time.[4]

Ultimately, Freeman in the general election defeated a fellow Democrat, Jim Donelon, of Jefferson Parish. (Under Louisiana law, two Democrats or two Republican may compete in the "general election".) Another Democratic lieutenant governor candidate, Jesse Monroe Knowles, state senator and World War II hero from Lake Charles, endorsed Donelon (who became the state insurance commissioner in 2006) in the second round of balloting. The incumbent in the lieutenant governor's race, Jimmy Fitzmorris, did not seek a third term, but ran unsuccessfully for governor. Later, through Treen's influence, Knowles, Donelon, and Fitzmorris all became Republicans. Freeman benefited in the race against Donelon with support of the grass-roots organizer Aubrey W. Young, originally from Monroe, the first aide de camp to then Governor John McKeithen.[5]

Freeman quarreled with Treen throughout their simultaneous terms of office. After weeks without communication with Freeman, Treen said on the day prior to the inauguration that he had talked with Freeman and had assured him that Treen had "nothing but goodwill" toward Freeman. Treen's aide and future state Republican chairman, William "Billy" Nungesser, said, quite mistakenly as it turned out, that the two would "get along just fine" after they were able to meet without the presence of the media or their respective party officials.[citation needed]

By April 1980, however, Freeman said that he might serve as governor whenever Treen was out of the state. Depending on the urgency of the situation, Freeman said that he might veto legislation if Treen were, for instance, in Detroit attending the Republican National Convention during the week of July 13, 1980. His estrangement with Treen was compared at the time to that of the California Lieutenant Governor, Republican Mike Curb, who had quarreled with Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Freeman took over as "acting governor" under the Louisiana Constitution whenever Treen left the state.[citation needed]

In a speech in 1982, Freeman challenged Treen's 4.4-percent across-the-board cuts in state spending because they impacted education, hospitals, and law enforcement. Freeman said that the state should have instead eliminated wasteful programs to close the budget deficit to avoid reductions in needed services. "Maybe state government needs to stop growing", Freeman said, noting that a $100 million surplus in 1980 had been depleted in two years, and new revenue sources were needed.[6]

Freeman v. Treen lawsuit[edit]

In 1983, Freeman sparred with Treen over the appropriations for the office of lieutenant governor. Treen sought to cut all state appropriations and said that Freeman's office would also face a funding cut. Freeman sued, and the case Freeman v. Treen was unique in that relatively few lieutenant governors have sued their respective governors over political disagreements. Freeman had been allocated $411,907 with a staff of eleven employees.[citation needed] After passage of the bill by the Louisiana House, Freeman persuaded the Senate Finance Committee to increase his allocation by a lump-sum amendment in the amount of $133,637, which established a total of $545,544 with fifteen employees. Freeman admitted that the amount was added so as to preclude a gubernatorial line item veto of the additional funds. When informed that the increase was not in proper item form, Treen wrote Freeman to advise him that the lieutenant governor's office could not be wholly exempt from budget cuts. The House refused to concur in the Senate amendment, and the bill was sent to a conference committee composed of three House and three Senate members. At the committee meeting, a compromise amendment, proposed by Treen, which would have added $66,819, or half of Freeman's additional request to the salaries item, was introduced but defeated in a 3-3 split.[citation needed]

Re-election campaigns[edit]

Having never been reconciled to Treen's narrow election, Freeman strongly favored the return of Edwin Edwards to the governorship in the 1983 primary, when Edwards handily unseated Treen, whom many voters blamed for a worsening economy in the state. In the same election Freeman himself faced a major opponent in Democrat Jimmy Fitzmorris, who had been in the No. 2 spot during Edwards' first two terms. Fitzmorris had lost the 1979 jungle primary for governor and then endorsed Republican David Treen over Democrat Louis Lambert.[citation needed]

In the October 22, 1983, primary, Freeman led a four-candidate field, but Fitzmorris ran strongly enough to qualify for a general election berth on November 19. Freeman prevailed in the general election, held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day, with 627,224 votes (59.7 percent) to Fitzmorris's 424,091 (40.3 percent). Some 400,000 who had balloted in the Edwards-Treen primary did not participate in the lieutenant governor's general election.[citation needed]

In 1987, Freeman was challenged by Paul Hardy and the Democrat William Ford Dodd, son of former Lieutenant Governor (1948–1952) Bill Dodd (1909–1991). Dodd was eliminated in the primary, and Freeman and Hardy advanced to the general election. Hardy prevailed: 521,992 votes (53 percent) to Freeman's 460,199 (47 percent). Hardy was the only Republican in modern times to have been elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana until Jay Dardenne won a 2010 special election to fill the unexpired term of Mitch Landrieu, who resigned to become Mayor of New Orleans. Hardy served under Democratic Governor (later Republican) Buddy Roemer. Hardy was defeated after a single term as lieutenant governor in the 1991 general election and retired to his law practice.[citation needed]

Seeking other offices[edit]

Freeman ran unsuccessfully for the Eighth Congressional District seat in the 1988 jungle primary. He finished a weak third with 14,814 votes (11 percent). The district, which was scrapped effective with the 1992 elections because the Louisiana population grew at less than the national average, reelected freshman Republican Clyde C. Holloway of Forest Hill in south Rapides Parish. Holloway defeated the black Democrat Faye Williams in the general election to secure the second of his three terms in the U.S. House. Freeman was particularly disheartened when he failed to carry his own Iberville Parish, where he finished with only 19 percent of the vote.

Freeman bounced back politically in 1990, when he was elected to a single six-year term as the Plaquemine city judge. He unseated the incumbent Judge William C. Dupont, a fellow Democrat, 2,180 votes (56 percent) to 1,705 (44 percent). In 1996, however, Dupont bounced back to defeat Freeman, 1,941 votes (52 percent) to 1,769 (48 percent), for the city judgeship. Freeman's elected political career ended at that point. In 2004, Dupont was elevated by voters to the Eighteenth Judicial District Court.

Personal life[edit]

Freeman lived in Plaquemine, Louisiana, with his wife of fifty-seven years, the former Marianne Drago (born April 1936). The couple has two children, Lisa Freeman Guidry and her husband, Burton Guidry, and Robert Freeman Jr. He had a granddaughter, Mary Kathryn Freeman Koch. He was a Roman Catholic.[7]

On February 2, 2008, Freeman was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[8]

Freeman died on May 16, 2016, of an aneurysm at the age of eighty-two at a hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[9] Visitation followed by a funeral mass was held on May 23, 2016, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Plaquemine.[7]

James H. "Jim" Brown, who served as Louisiana Secretary of State at the time Freeman was lieutenant governor, called Freeman "a dear friend, and I had the honor of serving in public life with him for over twenty years. We traveled the state together on many occasions. Bobby was sincere, funny, dedicated to his family, and a truly outstanding public servant. His friends and family will miss him and Louisiana will miss him. God rest, my friend Bobby."[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Diedre Cruse, Sheriff Jessel Ourso named to Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame, July 28, 2010". postsouth.com. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  2. ^ "Political Hall of Fame inducts 9 in Winnfield". thepineywoods.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  3. ^ Shreveport Journal, October 11, 1979, Special Election Supplement, p. 5D
  4. ^ Alexandria Daily Town Talk, November 10, 1979, p. 3D
  5. ^ "Aubrey W. Young". Monroe News Star, April 11, 2010. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  6. ^ "According to Lieutenant Governor Bobby Freeman: Cuts in State Government A Must", Minden Press-Herald, November 5, 1982, p. 1
  7. ^ a b "Robert L. "Bobby" Freeman". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  8. ^ "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". cityofwinnfield.com. Archived from the original on July 3, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  9. ^ Mark Ballard (May 16, 2016). "Former Lt. Gov. Bobby Freeman dies at age 82, remembered as 'fair-minded,' 'big-hearted fellow'". The Advocate.com. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  10. ^ "Guest Book: Robert L. "Bobby" Freeman". The Baton Rouge Advocate. May 18, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Marx Hoffman

Herman J. "Monday" Lowe

Louisiana State Representative from primarily Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes

Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman
1968–1980

Succeeded by
Harry A. "Soup" Kember Jr.

Clyde Kimball

Preceded by
Jimmy Fitzmorris
Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana

Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman
1980–1988

Succeeded by
Paul Hardy
Legal offices
Preceded by
William C. Dupont
City judge in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana

Robert Louis "Bobby" Freeman
1990–1996

Succeeded by
William C. Dupont