Juba Diez

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John Caleb "Juba" Diez, Sr.
Louisiana State Representative for
District 59 (Ascension Parish)
In office
1976–2004
Preceded byTwo-member district:

Risley C. Triche

Emery L. Villar
Succeeded byEddie J. Lambert
Personal details
Born (1944-08-18) August 18, 1944 (age 74)
Place of birth missing
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocrat-turned-Republican (2003)
Spouse(s)Mary Jane "Janie" Ficklin Diez
ChildrenJohn Diez Jr.
ParentsMr. and Mrs. Chester Joseph Diez Sr.
ResidenceGonzales
Ascension Parish
Louisiana, USA
Alma materDutchtown High School
OccupationBusinessman
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Air Force (1964-1968)

John Caleb Diez, Sr., known as Juba Diez (born August 18, 1944), is a businessman from Gonzales in Ascension Parish, south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1976 to 2004. He was first elected as a Democrat in 1975 in the state's first-ever nonpartisan blanket primary. He won re-election in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, and 1999.[1]

Background[edit]

Diez graduated from Dutchtown High School in Geismar in Ascension Parish. He worked for a year after high school as a boilermaker. From 1964 to 1968, he served in the United States Air Force. He owned Diez Business Machines and Office Supply in Gonzales. He subsequently sold the company, which had $1.7 million in annual sales in its last year of existence, to Champion Industries of Huntington, West Virginia. The amount of the transaction was not disclosed.[2]

Diez is a member of the American Legion, Ducks Unlimited, and the East Ascension Sportsman's Club. He and his wife, the former Mary Jane "Janie" Ficklin (born May 1947), have a son, John Diez Jr. (born January 1970), who has worked for the Republican National Committee, the Ascension Parish School Board,[3][4] and the Magellan Strategies polling company in Baton Rouge. Diez Jr. is considered one of Louisiana's most highly regarded pollsters and demographers on the Republican side. He warned U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu that she could not win a fourth term in 2014 with Democrats now commanding such a small portion of the white vote in the state.[5][6]

Political life[edit]

For eight years, Representative Diez was the chairman of the Highway, Transportation, and Public Works Committee, in which capacity he was instrumental in the establishment of major transportation projects and strategic transportation and highway planning.[7] In 2002, Diez proposed an increase of eight cents per gallon in the state gasoline tax in an effort to raise $100 million annually for road projects. He sought an immediate four-cent per gallon increase with the remaining four cents over the following four years. The proposal failed because it would have required a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature.[8]

In 2003, Diez switched to Republican affiliation on the premise that the GOP is more conducive to business growth than the Democrat opposition. However, he lost his bid for an eighth term in the 59th District House seat to fellow Republican Eddie J. Lambert, an attorney from Gonzales.[9] For several months, Diez was the 51st Republican state representative, but his term soon ended.[10] In 2011, the Louisiana Republican Party , after a number of other defections by former Democratic members, won a majority of state House seats for the first time since Reconstruction.

Representative Diez was rated in 1996 and 1997 as 80 percent positive by the Louisiana Christian Coalition of America. He ranked 56 percent in 1998 from the Louisiana AFL-CIO and 56 percent in 2001 by the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1999, he ranked 44 percent in his voting record by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network. From 1999 to 2003, he received a 0 percent rating from the LBGT community. In 2003, he ranked 83 percent from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.[11]

In the 2003 House primary, Eddie Lambert upset both Diez and another Republican candidate, George Cabanas, Jr. (born 1974). Lambert polled 6,581 votes (42.4 percent); Diez, 5,950 votes (38.3 percent), Cabanas, 3,002 (19.3 percent).[12] In the general election on November 15, 2003, Lambert topped Diez, 9,601 votes (57.7 percent) to 7,026 (42.3 percent).[13] As a Democrat in 1999, Diez had in his last successful election polled 63 percent of the primary vote against another Democrat, Jeff Burns.[14]

After Diez left the House, Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco named him as the liaision officer for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development with the legislature.[7]

Diez's older brother, Chester Joseph Diez Jr. (born August 1939), became a registered Republican in 1972, one of fewer than fifty party members in Ascension Parish at the time. He ran unsuccessfully for the Louisiana State Senate in the same 1975 primary in which Juba Diez was elected to the state House.[15] He lost to Anthony Guarisco Jr., then of Morgan City in St. Mary Parish.[16] Chester Diez was subsequently active in the successful 1979 campaign to elect David C. Treen as the first Republican governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction. In 1983, Chester Diez polled 18 percent of the vote in the election for the District 58 seat in the Louisiana House; victory in a runoff subsequently went to Melvin Irvin of Gonzales.[17] In July 2014, Chester Diez received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Republican Party of Ascension Parish, an honor presented by former State Representative Mert Smiley, the current Ascencion Parish assessor.[15]

In February 2015, Diez was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, along with several other Democrat-turned-Republicans, including Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, former legislator Noble Ellington and the late Albin Provosty, Jock Scott, and Judge Nauman Scott of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2016: Ascension Parish" (PDF). legis.la.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 13, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  2. ^ "Champion Industries Acquires Diez Business Machines, Gonzales, La". prnewswire.com. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  3. ^ "John Diez's Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  4. ^ "John C. Diez". intelius.com. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  5. ^ "John Diez' Fascinating Early Voting Analysis". thehayride.com. October 31, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  6. ^ "Management Team: John Diez". magellanstrategies.com. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Blanco has appointed former state representative John C. "Juba" Diez as the [transportation] department's Legislative Liaison". zoominfo.com. January 29, 2004. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  8. ^ Jeremy J. Alford (July 13, 2002). "Motorists may pay at the pump for better roads". Houma Today. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  9. ^ "Representative Eddie J. Lambert". house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  10. ^ "Rep. Juba Diez Switches Parties, Citing That Republicans Are the Party of Economic Development," PoliticsLA.com, August 19, 2003, accessed December 2, 2014
  11. ^ "John 'Juba' C. Diez's Ratings and Endorsements". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  12. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 4, 2003". Louisiana Secretary of State. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  13. ^ "Louisiana general election returns, November 15, 2003". Louisiana Secretary of State. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  14. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 23, 1999". staticresults.sos.louisiana.gov. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Chester J. Diez Jr. receives Republican Lifetime Achievement Award". thecreole.com. July 31, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  16. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1880 - Present" (PDF). senate.la.gov. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  17. ^ "Election Results". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 22, 1983. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  18. ^ Greg Hilburn (November 29, 2014). "Caldwell, Ellington elected to Political Hall of Fame". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Two-member district:

Risley C. Triche
Emery L. Villar

Louisiana State Representative for
District 59 (Ascension Parish)

John Caleb "Juba" Diez Sr.
1976–2004

Succeeded by
Eddie J. Lambert