Louisiana Politics: Donelon may face opponent in 2019 commissioner race
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has held his elected, although initially appointed, position for a dozen years. He has been elected to three full terms, and he’s aiming at another one.
Donelon has also faced opponents in the past, and next cycle may host another. Politicos say Tim Temple of DeRidder is being encouraged too consider the race. The president of Temptan, his father was Aubrey T. Temple Jr., the founding chairman of the board of LWCC.
According to his Committee of 100 biography, “Mr. Temple’s experience started within the insurance industry and is both broad and comprehensive.”
In his last campaign finance report filed in February, Commissioner Donleon was sitting on a $204,000 war chest.
Political History: The
Bayou State rocket man
In the history of American space exploration, the contributions of Shreveport’s Thomas Overton Brooks are often overlooked. As the first chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, he steered the United States toward the stars and helped create the modern space program.
Politics — and not so much the planets and the stars — was in his blood. He was born into a family of distinguished officeholders, and the extended tree held a former congressmen, U.S. senator and governor. Overton even served on Capitol Hill alongside his upper chamber uncle, John H. Overton.
Originally a Baton Rouge native, Brooks served in the Army during World War I before returning home to attend LSU Law School. After graduating in 1923, he moved to Shreveport and started a private practice, allowing the law to become his own entry into politics.
He was soon active in Caddo Parish elections and won a lucrative appointment in 1925 as a federal court commissioner (modern-day magistrate).
Eleven years later, Brooks entered a crowded race for the open seat in the Bayou State’s 4th Congressional District.
His family called in a few favors, assisting with building a campaign structure and war chest. His upper chamber uncle also secured the endorsement of the populist Long faction.
After the backlash over the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, Speaker Sam Rayburn tapped Brooks to chair a new committee that was going to be charged with creating a space program and overseeing government-sponsored scientific studies.
According to his biography that was prepared by the House, “Chairman Brooks immediately took the initiative, seeking to personally direct everything under the Committee’s jurisdiction.”
During his tenure, Congress successfully passed the legislation creating NASA and set the rules and guidelines that the agency currently operates under.
A particular sticking point for Brooks was ensuring that space exploration remained in civilian hands rather than operating as a military endeavor.
Then there were Brooks’ social politics. Upon being elected, he immediately aligned himself with conservative Democrats in the House, such as Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
In 1956, he signed the infamous Southern Manifesto, a segregationist pledge.
Like many from his generation, Brooks moderated his racial views later in life.
During the following term, he even cast a controversial vote that allowed then-President John F. Kennedy’s civil rights legislation to move to a floor vote.
In reaction, a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on the lawn of the congressman’s home in Shreveport.
Brooks succumbed to a heart attack and died on September 16, 1961, just weeks after the launch of the first manned missions into space.
In 1984, the Science, Space and Technology committee honored its first chairman by having a painting of Brooks commissioned for their hearing room, which is attached to this story.
From the walls, he still keeps a watchful eye on committee members, including two fellow Louisianans, Congressmen Ralph Abraham and Clay Higgins.
They said It
“We’re about 99 percent certain that we’ll have a Trump. We’re just not sure which one.”
—Former State GOP Chair Roger Villere, on the Southern Republican Leadership Conference that slated for New Orleans
“I felt strongly someone needed to get the truth to CNN’s flailing audience.”
—Attorney General Jeff Landry, on his CNN interview on the Affordable Care Act, in Parish News of Acadiana
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.