Speedy O. Long

Speedy O. Long

name= Speedy Oteria Long

caption= Speedy O. Long
office= United States House of Representatives, Eighth District of Louisiana
preceded=Gillis William Long
succeeded=Gillis William Long
office2=Louisiana State Senator for District 32
preceded2=Gove D. Davis
succeeded2=Willard L. Rambo
office3=District Attorney, 28th Judicial District (La Salle Parish)
birth_date= birth date |1928|06|16
birth_place= Tullos on the La Salle and Winn parish border
death_date=death date and age|2006|10|05|1928|06|16
spouse= Florence Marie Theriot Long (1933-2007)
children=Felix Field Long (born 1959)David Theriot Long (born 1961)
party= Democratic
religion= Baptist
occupation= Attorney

Speedy Oteria Long (June 16 1928October 5 2006)ref|1 was a Jena (La Salle Parish) lawyer who was a Democratic U.S. Representative from central Louisiana between 1965 and 1973. Prior to his tenure in the since disbanded Eighth Congressional District, Speedy Long had been a member of the Louisiana state Senate (1956-1964). After he left Congress, he became the district attorney (1973-1985) for the Jena-based 28th Judicial District. He resumed the practice of law in Jena from 1985-2005 but was called back to public service in 1994 when the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed him judge pro tem of the 28th Judicial District Court until a judge could be elected in 1995. He was a member of the popular Long political dynasty.

Early years in La Salle and Winn parishes

Long was born to Felix Franklin Long (1899-1982) and the former Verda Pendarvis (1905-1997) in tiny Tullos on the La Salle and Winn Parish boundary. His paternal grandfather was Charles Felix Long (1859-1940). Long was named "Speedy" because he was born two months prematurely. His father was the Tullos barber and also a town council member, marshal, and, later, mayor. Speedy Long recalled that his family ate and breathed politics. He joked that he had been reared to regard Huey Pierce Long, Jr., as God Almighty, Earl Kemp Long as Jesus the Son, and Eighth District Congressman George Shannon Long as St. Peter. He attended the public schools of La Salle and Winn parishes and graduated from Winnfield High School in 1945, just days before his seventeenth birthday.

Thereafter, he served in the U.S. Navy from April 1946 to February 1948. He graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then Northeast Junior College) in 1950 and from Northwestern State University (then State College) in Natchitoches in 1951 with a BA in History. Long was recalled to active Navy duty during the Korean War between 1951 and 1952. He graduated from Louisiana State University Law School in Baton Rouge in February 1959, was admitted to the Louisiana bar, and thereafter opened his practice in Jena.

On September 1, 1955, Long married the former Florence Theriot (May 15, 1933 - March 3, 2007) of Golden Meadow in Lafourche Parish. She was the daughter of Leopold Theriot and the former Emaline Martin (both 1912-1991). The couple had two sons, Felix Field Long (born 1959) and David Theriot Long (born 1961), both of whom resided in New Roads, the seat of Pointe Coupee Parish, at the time of their parents' deaths.

tate senator at 27

Speedy Long was elected to the Louisiana Senate in 1956, when he was only twenty-seven years old. In 1960, Long was reelected to the Senate, now the District 32 seat, over the opposition of state Representative Willard L. Rambo of Georgetown in Grant Parish north of Alexandria. Rambo had been Governor Earl Long's legislative floor leader and was married to a member of the Long family, the former Mary Alice Long (born 1928).

In 1963, Speedy Long did not seek a third term in the state Senate. Instead, he contested the state insurance commissioner position on a Democratic intraparty ticket headed by his friend John Julian McKeithen, a Columbia lawyer and one of the then three state public service commissioners, who was seeking the party's gubernatorial nomination in a crowded field.

Also on the McKeithen ticket was former Lafayette Mayor Ashton J. Mouton (1916-1988), a candidate for lieutenant governor. Mouton had been elected mayor at the age of thirty-one in 1948; he served until 1956. Long and Mouton lost their races, but McKeithen was elected governor. Long was defeated by an Italian-American, Dudley A. Guglielmo. Mouton lost out to conservative incumbent Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock of Franklin, the seat of St. Mary Parish.

peedy Long challenges Gillis Long, 1964

Long vacated his state Senate seat in 1964 and immediately launched a campaign against his third cousin, Gillis William Long (1923-1985) of Alexandria, for the Eighth District House seat, a position often held by a member of the Long family. In the summer of 1960, Earl Long had won a Democratic primary by a 6,000-vote margin for the seat held by Harold B. McSween of Alexandria and also held prior to 1958 by Long's late brother, George S. Long. When Earl Long died as the Democratic congressional nominee, the nomination reverted to McSween, the choice of the Democratic State Central committee. Two years later, in 1962, Gillis Long unseated McSween in the Democratic primary.

Gillis Long had been an unsuccessful gubernatorial contender against John McKeithen in the primary held in December 1963. He was a freshman House member who had not fully consolidated his hold on the district. Therefore, he was most vulnerable to his cousin's challenge. Speedy Long made it clear to voters that he was far different from his cousin Gillis, whom he dubbed a "Washington lawyer." Speedy Long, "just a Jena lawyer," vowed to vote far more conservatively on policy issues than Gillis Long had done in his one term in Congress.

Speedy Long said that he would model many of his votes in accord with north Louisiana Congressmen Joe D. Waggonner, Jr. (1918-2007), of Plain Dealing in Bossier Parish and Otto Ernest Passman (1900-1988) of Monroe in Ouachita Parish. He pointed out that Gillis Long often voted with the liberal members of the delegation from south Louisiana, specifically, Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., (1914-1972) of New Orleans, Edwin E. Willis (1904-1972) of St. Martinville, and James H. Morrison (1908-2000) of Hammond, to expand the scope of the national government at the expense of the states.

Speedy Long would upset Gillis Long for the Democratic congressional nomination in the famous "Battle of the Longs." Speedy's margin was some 4,900 votes. Relations between the two cousins were strained for years afterwards.

Facing Republican William Walker, 1964

Speedy Long faced a much stronger Republican candidate than was usually offered in the district because of the popularity in Louisiana of the Republican presidential nominee, Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona. Retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel William Stewart Walker (1914-1999) of Winnfield, who had earlier lost a state senate race to W.L. Rambo by a decisive margin, appeared strong as the Republican congressional nominee. At the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, in fact, Walker secured the endorsement of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Walker won Rapides Parish, which includes Alexandria and Pineville, with 51.4 percent of the vote and nearly won Winn Parish, which was both Walker's home parish as well as the traditional center of the Long dynasty. Walker received 27,735 votes (45.5 percent) to Speedy Long's 33,250 (54.5 percent).

Speedy Long quickly established his hold on the Eighth District. As he had promised, Long voted conservatively in Congress, sometimes in line with the Republican leadership under the direction of a future president, Gerald Ford. Speedy Long was reelected to the House in 1966, 1968, and 1970.

In Congress, Long served on the Armed Services and the Merchant Marine and Fisheries committees. His subcommittee held hearings in South Vietnam that discovered why the M-16 rifle was failing in combat conditions. The Pentagon subsequently authorized changes in the ammunition and the cleaning procedures, and the weapon has since performed well. Long was also credited with convincing the Pentagon to designate Fort Polk near Leesville in Vernon Parish as a permanent military installation. He also joined others in the congressional delegation to fight for the development, control, and the navigation of the Red River in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Running for governor, 1971

"Main Article: Louisiana gubernatorial election, 1971-72"

In 1971, Speedy Long filed as a Democratic candidate for governor. He entered a huge field that included: Lieutenant Governor Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock, 70-year-old former Governor Jimmie Davis, fellow Congressman Edwin Washington Edwards of Crowley, two state senators, John G. Schwegmann, a supermarket mogul from Jefferson Parish, and J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., a lawyer from Shreveport, and Speedy Long's competitive and more liberal cousin, Gillis Long. Speedy Long polled only 61,359 votes.

La Salle Parish district attorney

Speedy Long decided not to run for the U.S. House again. As a result of redistricting, the Eighth District was geographically enlarged to include more liberal and French cultural parishes to the south of Alexandria, plus Speedy Long's home parish of LaSalle was added to the Fifth District. The change in district apportionment, pushed by Governor Edwards, proved conducive to the return of Gillis Long to the seat that he had lost eight years earlier. Speedy Long instead was elected district attorney of LaSalle Parish, a position that he held for a dozen years.

One last run for governor, 1987

In 1987, Speedy Long, then fifty-nine, launched a final campaign for governor. He faced a field of seven opponents in the jungle primary, including incumbent Governor Edwards (the father of the jungle primary), Secretary of State James H. "Jim" Brown, originally of Ferriday, three congressmen, Wilbert Joseph "Billy" Tauzin of Lafourche Parish, Robert L. "Bob" Livingston of suburban New Orleans, and Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III, of Bossier Parish.

Speedy Long polled 18,736 votes (1 percent). In La Salle Parish, he received only 643 ballots from his diehard supporters, but Roemer led even there with 3,540 votes. Roemer (33 percent) and Edwards (28 percent) were slated to compete in the general election, but Edwards withdrew, and Roemer became governor based on his plurality primary showing. Livingston, who had hoped to garner a general election berth based on solid Republican support and then tackle Edwards, ran a disappointing third.

Bill Dodd's analysis of Speedy Long

In his Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics, pp. 19-20, former lieutenant governor, state auditor, and superintendent of education William J. "Bill" Dodd described Long as follows:

"Speedy O. Long is the maverick of the Long family. . . . A small man physically, some think he is a lightweight mentally, compared with the other Longs, who were bright people. . . . However, Speedy knew his politics and had the usual amount of Long ambition and energy to get ahead. He had something else, something the other Longs didn't have. He had the ability to see things in perspective, and he seems to have made a good self-analysis of his capabilities and desires. He got himself elected to Congress and appeared able to parlay his success into a still bigger office [the governorship] .

"Speedy got tired of Washington . . . and wanted to live at home with his family. So he came home voluntarily and hence became a quiet, plodding, and seemingly happy country prosecutor and small-town lawyer in central Louisiana. He may be the only Long who was ever happy . . . "

Later years and obituary

Speedy Long resided in the town of Jena in La Salle Parish and maintained a family law office in Jena until his retirement in 2005. His law partner for ten years was the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jimmie C. Peters. In 1979, Peters ran for the same state Senate seat that Long had held earlier, but he lost out to then fellow Democrat Daniel Wesley "Dan" Richey, then of Ferriday in Concordia Parish.

Long was a member of the First Baptist Church of Jena, the American Legion, a Mason, and a Shriner. He died about 7:40 a.m. on October 5, 2006,ref|2 at his home in Jena. In addition to his wife, sons, and granddaughter, Shelby Ann Long of Ventress in Pointe Coupee Parish, he was survived by four brothers, Willie F. Long of Jena, Earl K. Long and Steve Long, both of Olla, and Charles Long of Tullos; three sisters, Jo Beth Long Barber of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Sarah Long Allison and Willa Long Freeman, both of Natchitoches. Services were held on October 7, 2006, at the Hixson Brothers Funeral Home in Jena. Mrs. Long, also a member of First Baptist in Jena and a graduate of Golden Meadow High School, died in a Baton Rouge hospice on March 3, 2007, after suffering a stroke -- just five months after her husband's passing. The Longs are interred in Magnolia Cemetery in Tullos.

Judge Peters, who delivered Long's eulogy, said "He's going to be one of those people who is going to be missed. He's among the last true public servants who served the people of Louisiana."

Jena attorney Dan Cornett moved from Baton Rouge to become District Attorney Long's first assistant: "Speedy was truly a man of the people, a man for the people. He had an innate sense of right and wrong, and he knew how the working man felt about things. He stuck with his word. He made me a better attorney. He was a friend and a mentor. When he spoke, you listened."

Cornet called Long an "encyclopedia" of politics. Recalling his stories about Huey and Earl Long, Cornett lamented, "I only wish we had recorded those stories."

Speedy Long was inducted into the state-operated Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield in 1998, along with his former congressional colleague Joe Waggonner.

Speedy Long will be inducted posthumously in to Northwestern State University's "Long Purple Line" on October 24, 2008. Northwestern State University established The Long Purple Line in 1990 to provide recognition and appreciation to former N.S.U. students whose career accomplishments or service to their fellow man have enhanced the reputation of the university.


# [http://www.funeralquestions.com/obits/hixson/memorial.asp?listing_id=67650 "Obituary from Hixson Brothers Funeral Home"]
# [http://kalb.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=KALB/MGArticle/ALB_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149190993746&path=%21frontpage "KALB-TV"]


# [http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/williams/abstracts/gillis/longjimmy.htm Louisiana State University - Williams Center for Oral History]
# [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=L000429 Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress]
# [http://www.infoplease.com/biography/us/congress/long-speedy-oteria.html InfoPlease]
# [http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/long.html#R9M0J4IO5 The Political Graveyard]
# [http://www.sos.louisiana.gov:8090/cgibin/?rqstyp=elcmp&rqsdta=10248710012919 Louisiana Secretary of State - 1987 election results]
# [http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1966/5/1966_5_40.shtml "American Heritage": "The LONG, LONG Trail"]
# [http://www.cityofwinnfield.com/museum.html Winnfield, Louisiana city museum]
#Louisiana State Senators since 1880 (Baton Rouge: Secretary of State)



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