John Neely Kennedy

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John Neely Kennedy
John Neely Kennedy, official portrait, 115th Congress 2.jpg
United States Senator
from Louisiana
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Serving with Bill Cassidy
Preceded by David Vitter
Treasurer of Louisiana
In office
January 10, 2000 – January 3, 2017
Governor Mike Foster
Kathleen Blanco
Bobby Jindal
John Bel Edwards
Preceded by Ken Duncan
Succeeded by Ron Henson
Personal details
Born John Neely Kennedy
(1951-11-21) November 21, 1951 (age 66)
Centreville, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Republican (2007–present)
Other political
Democratic (Before 2007)
Spouse(s) Rebecca Stulb
Children 1 son
Education Vanderbilt University (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)
Magdalen College, Oxford (BCL)
Website Senate website

John Neely Kennedy (born November 21, 1951) is an American attorney and politician who is the junior United States Senator from Louisiana, serving since 2017. A member of the Republican Party, after decades of membership in the Democratic Party, he served terms as Louisiana state treasurer and took office as Louisiana's junior senator in the United States Senate on January 3, 2017, alongside the state's senior senator Bill Cassidy. He defeated Democratic candidate Foster Campbell in the Senate election runoff by more than 21 percentage points, about a month after prevailing in the state's jungle primary, along with Campbell.[1]

Education and career[edit]

Born in Centreville, Mississippi, Kennedy was raised in Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish. He graduated in 1969 from Zachary High School. He finished magna cum laude in 1973 from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, with a degree in Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics.

At Vanderbilt, he was elected president of his senior class and named to Phi Beta Kappa. After Vanderbilt, Kennedy received a J.D. degree 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 [2].

In 1979, he earned a Bachelor of Civil Law degree with first class honours from Magdalen College, Oxford in England.[3][4]

Prior to entering politics, Kennedy practiced law at the New Orleans and Baton Rouge firm of Chaffe McCall. Before he took office as state treasurer, Kennedy was the secretary of the Department of Revenue and was a legal counselor and secretary for then Governor Buddy Roemer.[citation needed]

Along with being state treasurer, he has been an adjunct professor at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge.[5]

Political career[edit]

In 1988, Kennedy became special counsel to then-Democratic Governor Roemer.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8]

Treasurer of Louisiana[edit]

Kennedy left the Foster administration when he was elected state treasurer in 1999, having unseated the incumbent Democrat Kenneth "Ken" Duncan, 621,796 (55.6 percent) to 497,319 (44.4 percent).[9] Kennedy was reelected as treasurer without opposition in 2003.[10]

Kennedy at the Natchitoches Christmas Parade in 2014

In 2004 he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. He ran a distant third in Louisiana's unique nonpartisan blanket primary, losing to the outright winner, Republican U.S. Representative David Vitter.[11]

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.[12]

In 2008, Kennedy ran again for the United States Senate, this time as a Republican, against incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. He lost 52.1 to 45.7 percent though the unsuccessful Republican presidential nominee John McCain defeated Barack Obama in Louisiana.[13][14]

During the state treasurer's term to which he was elected in 2007, Kennedy devised twenty-four points by which the state could save money.[15]

Jindal said Kennedy could "streamline" his own department. Many ideas that Kennedy had suggested were originally proposals that came from the Louisiana Commission for Streamlining Government, on which the treasurer was a member.[16]

In the 2016 presidential election, Kennedy supported Donald Trump.[17] Trump, as president-elect, subsequently campaigned for Kennedy the day before the runoff election with Foster Campbell.[18]

U.S. Senate[edit]


Then-President-elect Donald Trump and Kennedy campaigning in Baton Rouge

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 but lost to Republican David Vitter and Democrat Chris John. Vitter defeated John to win the seat in the general election.[19][20] In 2008, Kennedy again ran for the United States Senate, this time as a Republican but lost to incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.[21]

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, many politically unknown.[22] Vitter announced his retirement from the Senate in 2015 after losing a bid for governor to the Democrat John Bel Edwards.[23] Kennedy, who had supported Vitter for governor the previous year, led the field of candidates and then faced the Democrat Foster Campbell in a runoff contest on December 10. Kennedy prevailed, 536,204 (61 percent) to 347,813 (39 percent). Kennedy lost the largest populated parishes of Orleans and East Baton Rouge Parish, in which he had been reared, but he was a runaway winner in Campbell's home parish of Bossier.[24]


Kennedy was sworn in as Louisiana's junior U.S. Senator on January 3, 2017.

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 Mike Pence and President Donald Trump.[25][26]

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."[27]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]


Kennedy is "strongly opposed" to abortion.[28]

Gun law[edit]

Kennedy has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which endorsed him during his 2016 Senate run.[29][30]

Personal life[edit]

Kennedy resides in Madisonville in St. Tammany Parish outside New Orleans with his wife, Becky, and son, Preston. He attends North Cross United Methodist Church in Madisonville.[5] He is unrelated to the Kennedy family of Massachusetts.[31]

Electoral history[edit]

Results of the 2016 U.S. Senate nonpartisan blanket primary. Parishes won by Kennedy are shown in red.
Results of the Senate runoff. Parishes won by Kennedy are shown in red, darker shades indicate a higher percentage of the vote.
Louisiana Attorney General primary election, 1991
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Richard Ieyoub 447,423 31
Republican Ben Bagert 312,968 22
Democratic John Kennedy 288,104 20
Democratic Winston Riddick 224,200 16
Republican James McPherson 124,341 9
Republican Kai David Midboe 24,118 2
Louisiana Treasurer primary election, 1999
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Kennedy 621,796 56
Democratic Ken Duncan (inc.) 497,319 44
Louisiana Treasurer primary election, 2003
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Kennedy (inc.) n/a 100
Louisiana U.S. Senate primary election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Vitter 943,014 51
Democratic Chris John 542,150 29
Democratic John Kennedy 275,821 15
Democratic Arthur Morrell 47,222 3
Libertarian Richard Fontanesi 15,097 1
Independent "Skip" Galan 12,463 1
Democratic Sam Houston Melton, Jr. 12,289 1
Louisiana Treasurer primary election, 2007
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Kennedy (inc.) n/a 100
Louisiana U.S. Senate primary election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mary Landrieu (inc.) 988,298 52
Republican John Kennedy 867,177 46
Libertarian Richard Fontanesi 18,590 1
Independent "Jay" Patel 13,729 1
Independent Robert Stewart 8,780 0
Louisiana Treasurer primary election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Kennedy (inc.) n/a 100
Louisiana Treasurer primary election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Kennedy (inc.) 787,677 80
Republican Jennifer Treadaway 195,791 20
Louisiana U.S. Senate primary election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Kennedy 482,591 25
Democratic Foster Campbell 337,833 17
Republican Charles Boustany 298,008 15
Democratic Caroline Fayard 240,917 12
Republican John C. Fleming 204,026 11
Republican Rob Maness 90,856 5
Republican David Duke 58,606 3
Democratic Derrick Edwards 51,774 2
Democratic Gary Landrieu 45,587 1
Republican "Crawdaddy" Crawford 25,523 1
Republican Joseph Cao 21,019 1
Independent Beryl Billiot 19,352 1
Libertarian Thomas Clements 11,370 1
11 additional candidates 46,173 2
United States Senate election in Louisiana, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Kennedy 536,191 60
Democratic Foster Campbell 347,816 39


  1. ^ "Republican John Kennedy re-elected to fifth term as Louisiana's state treasurer". 
  2. ^ "The First Year Senator". University of Virginia School of Law. Retrieved 15 December 2017. 
  3. ^ "Southeastern Louisiana University FACULTY SENATE Meeting Minutes" (PDF). 
  4. ^ Biography of Treasurer John Neely Kennedy profile,; accessed November 18, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "About Treasurer Kennedy". Louisiana Department of the Treasury. Archived from the original on June 26, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Roemer is no-show for opening session", Minden Press-Herald, April 7, 1991, p. 1
  7. ^, TYLER BRIDGES. "Here's the secret to John N. Kennedy's U.S. Senate win". 
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ "Louisiana election returns for state treasurer". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 23, 1999. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  10. ^, WILL SENTELL. "Louisiana state treasurer John Kennedy hopes third time is charm in U.S. Senate bid". 
  11. ^ " - Vitter avoids runoff, first Louisiana Republican to Senate". 
  12. ^ Treasurer Bolts to GOP,; accessed November 18, 2016
  13. ^ "Louisiana election results". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  14. ^ Huetteman, Emmarie (February 17, 2017). "Today's Senator John Kennedy Is From Louisiana" – via 
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "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. 
  17. ^ Press, Melinda Deslatte/ Associated. "Louisiana's Republican Senate U.S. candidates stick with Trump". Daily Comet. Retrieved November 25, 2016. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Moller, Jan. "Treasurer bolts to GOP". The Times Picayune. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Official Election Results Results for Election Date: 11/2/2004". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Official Election Results Results for Election Date: 11/4/2008". Louisiana Secretary of State. 
  22. ^ Rainey, Richard. "Treasurer John Kennedy enters Senate race to succeed David Vitter". The Time Picayune. Retrieved June 27, 2016. 
  23. ^ Richardson, Bradford. "Vitter announces Senate retirement after losing La. gubernatorial race". The Hill. Retrieved June 27, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Election Returns". Louisiana Secretary of State. December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016. 
  25. ^ "U.S. Chamber of Commerce Endorses Kennedy for Senate". Retrieved April 15, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Trump, Pence Endorse Louisiana GOP Senate Candidate John Kennedy Ahead of Runoff". December 3, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2017. 
  27. ^ Deborah Barfield Berry (June 6, 2017). "La. senator brings up mayonnaise during education hearing". USA Today. Retrieved June 8, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Republican John Kennedy wins Louisiana senate race in runoff election". CNBC. 10 December 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2017. 
  29. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved 4 October 2017. 
  30. ^ "New NRA Ad Urges Voters to Elect John Kennedy for U.S. Senate". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 4 October 2017. 
  31. ^ Mary Ann Akers (June 13, 2008). "The Sleuth - John Kennedy, a Politician By Any Other Name". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ken Duncan
Treasurer of Louisiana
Succeeded by
Ron Henson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Suzanne Terrell
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator for Louisiana
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Bill Cassidy
Preceded by
David Vitter
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Louisiana
(Class 3)

Most recent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
David Vitter
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
Served alongside: Bill Cassidy
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kamala Harris
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Catherine Cortez Masto