John Kennedy (Louisiana politician)
|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2017
Serving with Bill Cassidy
|Preceded by||David Vitter|
|Treasurer of Louisiana|
January 10, 2000 – January 3, 2017
John Bel Edwards
|Preceded by||Ken Duncan|
|Succeeded by||Ron Henson (Acting)|
|Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue|
|Succeeded by||Brett Crawford|
John Neely Kennedy
November 21, 1951
Centreville, Mississippi, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (2007–present)|
|Democratic (before 2007)|
|Education||Vanderbilt University (BA)|
University of Virginia (JD)
Magdalen College, Oxford (BCL)
John Neely Kennedy (born November 21, 1951) is an American lawyer and politician who is serving as the junior United States Senator from Louisiana since 2017. A Democrat turned Republican, he previously served as the Louisiana State Treasurer from 2000 to 2017.
Born in Centreville, Mississippi, Kennedy graduated from Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia School of Law before attending Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Kennedy was a member of the staff of Governor Buddy Roemer before unsuccessfully running as the Democratic candidate for state attorney general in 1991. In 1999, he was elected Louisiana State Treasurer; he was re-elected to that position in 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015. Kennedy was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2004 and 2008. In 2007, he became a Republican.
In 2016, when U.S. Senator David Vitter opted not to seek re-election, Kennedy once again ran for U.S. Senate. He finished in first place in the November nonpartisan blanket primary and went on to defeat Democrat Foster Campbell 61–39% in the December runoff before being sworn in on January 3, 2017.
Early life and education
Kennedy was born in Centreville, Mississippi and raised in Zachary, Louisiana. After graduating from Zachary High School as co-valedictorian in 1969, Kennedy entered Vanderbilt University, where his interdepartmental major was in political science, philosophy and economics. He graduated magna cum laude.
At Vanderbilt, he was elected president of his senior class and named to Phi Beta Kappa. After Vanderbilt, Kennedy received a Juris Doctor in 1977 from the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia. At the University of Virginia School of Law, he was an executive editor of the Virginia Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. In 1979, he earned a Bachelor of Civil Law degree with first class honours from Oxford University (Magdalen College) in England, where he studied under Sir Rupert Cross and John H.C. Morris.
He has written and published the following books and articles: Louisiana State Constitutional Law (LSU Publications Institute, Jan. 1, 2012), The Dimension of Time in the Louisiana Products Liability Act (42 Louisiana Bar Journal, Jan. 1, 1994), The Role of the Consumer Expectation Test Under Louisiana's Products Liability Doctrine (69 Tulane Law Review 117, Jan. 1, 1994), A Primer on the Louisiana Products Liability Act (49 Louisiana Law Review 565, Jan. 1, 1989), Assumption of the Risk, Comparative Fault and Strict Liability After Rozell (47 Louisiana Law Review 791, Jan. 1, 1987) and The Federal Power Commission, Job Bias, and NAACP v. FPC (10 Akron Law Review 556, Jan. 1, 1977).
In 1988, Kennedy became special counsel to then-Democratic Governor Buddy Roemer. In 1991, he was appointed cabinet secretary and served in that post until 1992. In 1991, he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for state attorney general to succeed the retiring William J. Guste.
Following his first stint in state government, Kennedy returned to the private practice of law until 1996. That same year, he was appointed Secretary of the state Department of Revenue in the cabinet of Republican Governor Mike Foster.
Treasurer of Louisiana
Kennedy left the Foster administration when he was elected Louisiana State Treasurer in 1999, having unseated incumbent Democrat Ken Duncan, 621,796 (55.6 percent) to 497,319 (44.4 percent). Kennedy was re-elected Treasurer without opposition in 2003, 2007 and 2011. In 2015, he defeated his single opponent challenger with 80 percent of the vote.
After being courted by the Republican Party for months, Kennedy announced in a letter to his constituents that he was leaving the Democratic Party and joining the Republicans, effective August 27, 2007. In his letter, he announced that he would run again for State Treasurer.
During the State Treasurer's term to which he was elected in 2007, Kennedy devised a twenty-four-point plan by which the state could save money. Governor Bobby Jindal said Kennedy could "streamline" his own department. Many of Kennedy's ideas were derived from the Louisiana Commission for Streamlining Government, which he served on in his official capacity as State Treasurer.
In 2004, Kennedy campaigned for the United States Senate seat held by John Breaux, who retired from elected office. Kennedy ran as a Democrat in the state's jungle primary, losing to Republican David Vitter and Democrat Chris John. Vitter won the election in the primary.
Kennedy ran for the U.S. Senate again in 2008, this time as a Republican. He was defeated, 52.1 to 45.7 percent, by incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu; the same year, Republican presidential nominee John McCain defeated Barack Obama in Louisiana, but Obama was elected nationwide.
On January 26, 2016, Kennedy announced that he would run for the U.S. Senate for a third time. In seeking to succeed the retiring David Vitter, he faced more than twenty opponents. Vitter announced his retirement from the Senate in 2015 after losing a bid for governor to the Democrat John Bel Edwards.
Kennedy's senatorial campaign was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Rifle Association, the National Right to Life Committee, the American Conservative Union, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump. Kennedy, who had supported Vitter for governor the previous year, won the jungle primary and faced Democrat Foster Campbell in a December 10 runoff election. President-elect Donald Trump—who had received Kennedy's support in the 2016 presidential election—campaigned for Kennedy the day before the runoff election. Kennedy defeated Campbell, 536,204 (61 percent) to 347,813 (39 percent), in the runoff election. Kennedy lost the largest populated parishes of Orleans and East Baton Rouge, in which he had been reared, but he was a runaway winner in Campbell's home parish of Bossier.
In June 2017, Kennedy "grilled" Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a hearing before the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Service, Education and Related Agencies. In the exchange, he contrasted the lack of school choice available for younger pupils in many rural areas of the country to the widespread brands of mayonnaise available on the grocery store shelf: "Now I can go down to my overpriced Capitol Hill grocery this afternoon and choose among about six different types of mayonnaise. How come I can't do that for my kid?" Kennedy said. The remark attracted national attention. DeVos replied that the Trump administration budget proposal would give parents and students more power and opportunity so that American education could again become "the envy of the world."
Kennedy has attracted comment for his manner in the Senate. The Huffington Post reported: "Since being elected to the Senate a year ago, Kennedy ... has made a name for himself on Capitol Hill with his wit, humor and penchant for folksy expressions ― a notable feat in a place where jargon and arcane procedure tend to reign supreme".
In the months leading up to the 2019 election, Kennedy was mentioned as a prospective candidate for governor in the nonpartisan blanket primary against Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards. But on December 3, 2018, Kennedy announced that he would not run for governor, and said that he preferred to remain in the Senate.
- Committee on Appropriations
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on the Judiciary
- Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Senator Kennedy was one of six senators to earn the title “Taxpayer Super Hero” with a perfect score of 100 percent in 2019, according to the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a group that identifies members of Congress with a record of voting to protect taxpayer dollars.
Senator John Kennedy received a D 62% Liberty Score by Conservative Review. He holds a lifetime score of 67% from Heritage Action for America.
Senator Kennedy stated he would be filing a bill to "prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead bins" following the death of a dog in an overhead bin while flying United Airlines during March 2018. He said, "officials would face significant fines" if noncompliant. In March 2018, Kennedy introduced the Welfare Of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act, but the bill died in committee.
Kennedy bucked party lines to oppose the appointment of three of U.S. President Donald Trump's U.S. District Court judicial nominees whom Kennedy believed were not qualified for the positions. They were Jeff Mateer, Brett Talley, and Matthew S. Petersen. All three nominations were withdrawn by the White House. On December 13, 2017, during Peterson's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kennedy questioned Petersen about basic legal procedure, asking if he knew what the Daubert standard was, and what a motion in limine was? Peterson struggled to answer. Kennedy also voted against the nomination of Gregory G. Katsas to the D.C. Circuit, though the nomination was still confirmed.
John Kennedy introduced a bill on March 7, 2018, that would "prohibit companies like Comcast and Verizon from blocking or throttling web content.". Kennedy was one of three Republican senators, alongside Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who voted with the entirety of the Democratic caucus on May 16, 2018, to overturn the FCC's repeal of net neutrality.
In April 2018, Kennedy was one of eight Republican senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and acting Secretary of State John Sullivan expressing "deep concern" over a report by the United Nations exposing "North Korean sanctions evasion involving Russia and China" and asserting that the findings "demonstrate an elaborate and alarming military-venture between rogue, tyrannical states to avoid United States and international sanctions and inflict terror and death upon thousands of innocent people" while calling it "imperative that the United States provides a swift and appropriate response to the continued use of chemical weapons used by President Assad and his forces, and works to address the shortcomings in sanctions enforcement."
In January 2019, Kennedy was one of eleven Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to block President Trump's intent to lift sanctions against three Russian companies.
Kennedy resides in Madisonville in St. Tammany Parish outside New Orleans with his wife, Becky, and son, Preston. He is a founding member of, and attends, North Cross United Methodist Church in Madisonville. He is not related to the Kennedy family of Massachusetts.
|Democratic||Arthur A. Morrell||47,222||2.56%|
|Independent||Richard M. Fontanesi||15,097||0.82%|
|Independent||R. A. "Skip" Galan||12,463||0.67%|
|Democratic||Sam Houston Melton, Jr.||12,289||0.66%|
|Republican gain from Democratic||Swing|
|Democratic||Mary Landrieu (incumbent)||988,298||52.11%||+0.41%|
|2016 Louisiana US Senate blanket primary|
|Republican||Donald "Crawdaddy" Crawford||25,523||1.3%|
|No party||Beryl Billiot||19,352||1.0%|
|No party||Troy Hebert||9,503||0.5%|
|No party||Kaitlin Marone||4,108||0.2%|
|Libertarian||Le Roy Gillam||4,067||0.2%|
|No party||Arden Wells||1,483||0.1%|
- "Brett Crawford Appointed Acting Revenue Secretary". rev.louisiana.gov. May 3, 1999. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- Bernstein, Mark F. (May 28, 2017). "The First Year Senator". University of Virginia School of Law. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
- "Southeastern Louisiana University FACULTY SENATE Meeting Minutes" (PDF).
- "About Treasurer Kennedy". treasury.state.la.us. Retrieved November 18, 2016. Archived November 27, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
- "About Treasurer Kennedy". Louisiana Department of the Treasury. Archived from the original on June 26, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
- "Roemer is no-show for opening session", Minden Press-Herald, April 7, 1991, p. 1
- Bridges, Tyler (December 11, 2016). "Here's the secret to John N. Kennedy's U.S. Senate win". The Acadiana Advocate. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000, p. 247; ISBN 0-9700156-0-7
- "Louisiana election returns for state treasurer". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 23, 1999. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- Sentell, Will (October 20, 2016). "Louisiana state treasurer John Kennedy hopes third time is charm in U.S. Senate bid". The Advocate. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- Levine, Marianne; Everett, Burgesss (December 3, 2019). "Folksy John Kennedy gets serious pushback on Ukraine mess". Politico. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- Moller, Jan. "Treasurer bolts to GOP". The Times Picayune. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
- Kennedy elaborated the plan in many venues across the state. See § III of the following: Ramsey, David (February 9, 2011). "Guest Presentation by State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy" (PDF). Southeastern Louisiana University Faculty Senate Minutes. Retrieved October 8, 2011. A particular focus of Kennedy's cost-saving ideas was reduction in the hiring of consultants.
- "Michelle Milhollin, "Jindal slashes funding for state treasurer: Jindal's 'streamlining' efforts trim critics' funding"". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- "Vitter avoids runoff, first Louisiana Republican to Senate". usatoday30.usatoday.com. November 2, 2004. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- "Official Election Results Results for Election Date: 11/2/2004". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
- "Louisiana election results". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- Huetteman, Emmarie (February 17, 2017). "Today's Senator John Kennedy Is From Louisiana". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- Rainey, Richard. "Treasurer John Kennedy enters Senate race to succeed David Vitter". NOLA.com. The Times Picayune. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
- Richardson, Bradford (November 21, 2015). "Vitter announces Senate retirement after losing La. gubernatorial race". The Hill. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
- "U.S. Chamber of Commerce Endorses Kennedy for Senate". johnkennedy.com. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- Hillyard, Vaughn (December 3, 2016). "Trump, Pence Endorse Louisiana GOP Senate Candidate John Kennedy Ahead of Runoff". NBC News. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- Deslatte, Melinda. "Louisiana's Republican Senate U.S. candidates stick with Trump". Daily Comet. Retrieved November 25, 2016 – via Associated Press.
- Rainey, Richard (December 10, 2016). "Donald Trump campaigns in Baton Rouge, this time for Senate candidate John Kennedy". nola.com. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- "Louisiana Secretary of State Official Election Results Results for Election Date: 11/8/2016 - US Senator". Louisiana Secretary of State.
- Deborah Barfield Berry (June 6, 2017). "La. senator brings up mayonnaise during education hearing". USA Today. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- Bobic, Igor (January 25, 2018). "Meet The Folksiest Man In The U.S. Senate". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- Hilburn, Greg (December 3, 2018). "Kennedy won't run for governor of Louisiana". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- "Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Releases 2019 Congressional Ratings". menafn.com. May 22, 2020. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- "Senator John Kennedy" (PDF). Retrieved December 13, 2018.
- Anapol, Avery (March 15, 2018). "GOP senator opposed to gun control mocked for bill proposal after airline pet death". The Hill. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- Connolly, Griffin (March 15, 2018). "After Dog Dies On United Airlines Flight Sen. John Kennedy Proposes Bill". Roll Call. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- "S.2556 - Welfare Of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act". congress.gov. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- "Republican John Kennedy wins Louisiana senate race in runoff election". CNBC. December 10, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "New NRA Ad Urges Voters to Elect John Kennedy for U.S. Senate". NRA-ILA. December 8, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Hohmann, James (December 19, 2017). "The Daily 202: Why a Louisiana GOP senator keeps bringing down Trump judicial nominees". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- Bowden, John (December 14, 2017). "Dem senator bashes Trump judicial nominee over hearing testimony: 'Hoo-boy'". The Hill. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- Bromwich, Jonah Engel; Chokshi, Niraj (December 15, 2017). "Trump Judicial Nominee Attracts Scorn After Flopping in Hearing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- Hawkins, Derek (December 15, 2017). Trump judicial nominee fumbles basic questions about the law, The Washington Post, December 15, 2017 Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 115th Congress – 1st Session United States Senate Vote Summary: Vote Number 282, United States Senate, November 27, 2017, Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- Levine, Marianne (December 18, 2018). "Senate approves Trump-backed criminal justice overhaul". Politico. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Neidig, Harper (March 7, 2018). "GOP senator offers his own net neutrality bill". The Hill. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Mitchell, Ellen (April 13, 2018). "Key senators warn Trump of North Korea effort on Syria". The Hill. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- Carney, Jordain (January 15, 2019). "Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions". The Hill. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- Akers, Mary Ann (June 13, 2008). "The Sleuth – John Kennedy, a Politician By Any Other Name". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
- "Official Election Results". Louisiana Secretary of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
- Official US Senate website
- Campaign website
- John N. Kennedy at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Campaign contributions at OpenSecrets.org
- Follow the Money – John Kennedy
- John Maginnis. Treasure the Moment, Gambit Weekly, March 13, 2001.
|Party political offices|
Title last held byKen Duncan
| Democratic nominee for Treasurer of Louisiana
Title next held byDerrick Edwards
|New title|| Republican nominee for Treasurer of Louisiana
2007, 2011, 2015
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Louisiana
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Louisiana
| Treasurer of Louisiana
| U.S. senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
Served alongside: Bill Cassidy
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Senators by seniority
Catherine Cortez Masto
|115th||Senate: B. Cassidy • J. N. Kennedy||House: S. Scalise • C. Richmond • R. Abraham• G. Graves • C. Higgins • M. Johnson|