John Rarick

John Rarick

name= John Richard Rarick, Sr.
caption= John Rarick
office= United States House of Representatives, Sixth District of Louisiana
term_start= 1967
preceded=James Hobson "Jimmy" Morrison
succeeded=William Henson Moore, III
office2=Louisiana State District Judge
birth_date= birth date |1924|1|29
birth_place= Waterford in Elkhart County, Indiana, USA
residence=St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana
spouse= (1) Marguerite P. Rarick (1924-2003) (2) Frances Eldred Rarick (married 2004)
children= Including John R. Rarick, Jr. (born ca. 1948)
party= Democratic
occupation= Attorney
footnotes=(1) Until May 3, 2008, Rarick, who left office in 1975, had been the last Democrat to represent the Louisiana Sixth Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

(2) In 1980, the conservative Rarick refused to support the election of Ronald W. Reagan as U.S. President and instead ran as the nominee of the American Independent Party, originally founded by the Democrat George C. Wallace, Jr.

(3) Rarick was a decorated United States Army veteran of World War II, having obtained the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

(4) In 1976, Rarick attempted a comeback in the neighboring First Congressional District but ran a weak third as an Independent candidate.

John Richard Rarick, Sr. (born January 29, 1924) is a lawyer in St. Francisville, the seat of West Feliciana Parish, who was a Democratic congressman from southern Louisiana between 1967 and 1975. A staunch conservative, he frequently quarreled with his party's increasingly liberal philosophy and leadership. In 1980, he sought the presidency as the nominee of the former American Independent Party, which had been founded in 1968 by George C. Wallace, Jr., of Alabama.


Early years and military service

Rarick was born in tiny Waterford in Elkhart County in northern Indiana. He attended Goshen High School in Goshen. He studied at Ball State University (then Teacher’s College) in Muncie.

Rarick then entered the United States Army's Specialized Training Program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was then sent to the European Theater with the infantry during World War II. He was captured and later escaped from a German prisoner of war camp. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

After his military service, Rarick attended the Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, from which he graduated with an LLB and then a Juris Doctor degree in 1949. He was admitted to the Louisiana state bar later that year and set up a law practice in St. Francisville near Baton Rouge. He was elected as a district judge of the West Feliciana Parish-based Twentieth Judicial District on June 28, 1961. He resigned the judgeship on May 15, 1966, to declare his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Political career

Unseating Congressman Jimmy Morrison

Rarick had been a member of the Indiana Democratic Party in Indiana and was the party's city chairman in Goshen. He remained a Democrat when he moved to Louisiana. Rarick upset veteran Sixth District Congressman James Hobson "Jimmy" Morrison of Hammond in a Democratic primary runoff with 51.2 percent of the vote. (Jimmy Morrison is unrelated to the late New Orleans Mayor deLesseps Story Morrison, Sr., though the two shared a moderately liberal political philosophy.) Rarick's victory coincided with the selection of another controversial conservative, the late Lester Garfield Maddox, as the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia. Maddox had become known for closing a restaurant in Atlanta to avoid compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Both Rarick and his 1966 Republican opponent, Crayton G. "Sparky" Hall, later left their major parties. Hall was in 1976 a Sixth Congressional District elector for the fledgling Libertarian Party, pledged that year to the Virginian Roger MacBride. Rarick quickly compiled a very conservative voting record, even by Louisiana Democratic standards. He was also a member of the pro-segregation White Citizens Council. He often spoke at events sponsored by the anticommunist John Birch Society.

Challenging John McKeithen

In November 1967, with less than a year of congressional service to his credit, Rarick challenged popular Democratic Governor John Julian McKeithen for renomination. Rarick who sought term limitations secured the support of various "far right" groups in the state, but was badly defeated, winning only 17.3 percent of the vote to McKeithen's 80.7 percent, among those two candidates. (There were several minor candidates not included in the percent breakdown.) Rarick did not poll a gubernatorial majority even among those voters expected to support Wallace for president in 1968.

upporting George Wallace

In 1968, Rarick supported American Independent Party candidate George Wallace for president against Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Republican Richard M. Nixon. Rarick himself was reelected to the U.S. Congress by a wide margin that year, but like Democratic Representatives Albert Watson and John Bell Williams who had supported Republican Barry Goldwater in the presidential election 1964, Rarick was stripped of seniority by the House Democratic Caucus. Since Rarick had only been elected in 1966, this was largely a symbolic gesture.cite web
last = Rudin
first = Ken
authorlink = Ken Rudin
title = What the Lieberman Endorsement Means — For Him
work = Political Junkie
publisher = National Public Radio
date = December 19, 2007
url =
accessdate = 2008-04-18

In 1968, Rarick won renomination by turning back a closed primary challenge from Louisiana State Senator J.D. DeBlieux of Baton Rouge. DeBlieux (pronunced like the letter "W") was one of the first white politicians in Louisiana to have endorsed the civil rights agenda. In 1972, as Rarick was re-elected to his fourth and final term, his home parish of West Feliciana Parish stood alone among the sixty-four parishes to support Democratic presidential nominee George S. McGovern in McGovern's race against Richard M. Nixon.

Losing renomination in 1974

In 1974, Rarick was denied renomination (as he had done to Morrison eight years earlier) by a young Baton Rouge television broadcaster, Jeffrey Dean "Jeff" LaCaze (born ca. 1944), who objected to Rarick's conservative voting record. Running hence as a "national Democrat" LaCaze in turn lost the seat to Republican W. Henson Moore, III, of Baton Rouge in a disputed November 1974 general election. In a special election rematch held in January 1975 to resolve the deadlock, LaCaze lost by nearly eight percentage points to Moore. The seat was then in Republican hands for more than thirty years, first with Moore, then with Richard H. Baker, also of Baton Rouge, until conservative Democrat Don Cazayoux defeated Republican Woody Jenkins in a special election held on May 3, 2008. [] .

Running for Congress again, 1976

Rarick resumed the practice of law after his congressional defeat. In 1976, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the American Independent Party's presidential nomination. The AIP had been founded by Wallace in 1968 as a partisan vehicle for his presidential bid. Thereafter, Wallace returned to the Democratic fold and largely let the new party fend for itself. Rarick lost the AIP nomination to ex-Georgia Governor and ardent segregationist Lester Maddox. Rarick then turned his attention to returning to Congress. He ran in the suburban New Orleans-based First District in 1976 as an independent. The seat had come open when 36-year incumbent F. Edward Hébert announced his retirement. Rarick polled only 12,227 votes (9.4 percent). However, he siphoned off enough votes that presumably otherwise would have gone to Republican Robert L. "Bob" Livingston to throw the election to Democrat Richard Alvin Tonry. In a surprise development, Tonry was forced to resign from the U.S. House in May 1977 because of allegations of electoral misconduct. Livingston thereafter won the seat in a special election held in August 1977.

AIP presidential nominee, 1980

In 1980, Rarick secured the AIP nomination with Eileen Knowland Shearer of California (the wife of AIP founder William K. Shearer) as his running mate, but he finished in seventh place, with 40,906 votes (or just 0.05 percent). Rarick's most respectable showings were in Louisiana, where he polled 10,333 votes (0.67 percent and about the same number that Maddox had received four years earlier) and in Alabama where he captured 15,010 votes (1.12 percent). Overall, his totals were so meager as to have been omitted from most presidential election tallies. He opposed the Republican Ronald W. Reagan for president that year on the grounds that Reagan was too accommodating to the welfare state to address the pressing needs of the nation.

Rarick today

Rarick was among the charter members of the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CofCC (as it is known among its members and supporters, perhaps in order to distinguish its name from the KKK) is a paleoconservative political association which some of its critics regard as having segregationist and/or White Nationalist sympathies.

Rarick's first wife was Marguerite P. Rarick (September 10, 1924 - April 10, 2003). He married the former Frances Eldred on January 21, 2004.

Author Peter Gemma of Virginia is in the process of writing a full-scale biography of Rarick.


* "Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections"
* "Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report", September 3, 1977
* "Shreveport Times", November 4, 1974;Specific

Further reading

* [,johnr-political.html John R. Rarick Political Collection, Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, Southeastern Louisiana University]

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