Former Louisiana GovernorCharles “Buddy” Roemer
Born: October 4,1943 (age 68), Shreveport, Louisiana
Spouse(s): Francis “Cookie” Demler, Patti Crocker Roemer
Residence : Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma Mater: Harvard
Political Career :
- In 1972 Buddy was 1972 as a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention held in 1973.
- From 1981 to 1988 Roemer, a Democrat was a member of Congress representing the 4th distrcit.
- In 1988 Roemer was elected Governor of Louisiana
- In 1991, Roemer switched to the Republican Party
- In November of ’91 he lost his bid for relection.
- 1995- Roemer ran again for Governor but was unsuccessful.
Buddy Romer’s Facebook Page
Buddy Roemer was born in Shreveport to Charles E. “Budgie” Roemer, II , and the former Adeline McDade. He is distantly related to former Shreveport Mayor James C. Gardner. Roemer’s maternal grandfather, Ross McDade, married a sister of Gardner’s maternal grandmother. Gardner knew Roemer’s grandfather as “Uncle Ross”. However, McDade’s wife died, and he remarried, from which union came Adeline Roemer. The two were not close politically.
He was reared on the Scopena plantation near Bossier City. He attended public schools and graduated as valedictorian of Bossier High School in 1960. He received a Bachelor of Science and an MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1964 and 1967, respectively. He returned to Louisiana to work in his fathers computer business and later founded two banks. He was elected in 1972 as a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention held in 1973. Among the Shreveport-area delegates who served with Roemer was his future gubernatorial advisor Robert G. Pugh, future U.S. District Judge Tom Stagg, and former Louisiana State Representative Frank Fulco.
Roemer’s father had been Edwin Washington Edwards’ campaign manager in 1971, and became commissioner of administration during Edwards’ first term as governor. Buddy Roemer worked on the Edwards campaign as a regional leader and later started a political consulting firm. In 1981, Charles Roemer, II, was imprisoned, along with mobster Carlos Marcello, as a result of the BriLab investigation on charges of conspiring to sell influence in the awarding of state insurance contracts. Roemer blamed Edwards for his fathers legal troubles. Three others, including Aubrey W. Young, a former aide to Governor John J. McKeithen, were acquitted in the case.
As a member of Congress, Roemer represented the northwestern Louisiana district anchored about Shreveport and Bossier City.
Roemer lost the 1978 jungle primary for the Fourth District seat in Congress vacated by popular incumbent Joseph David “Joe D.” Waggonner, Jr. Waggonner announced his opposition to Roemer after Roemer criticized the excessive costs of the Red River navigation progam, which was a favored project of the retiring Waggonner. Roemer finished a solid third in the primary to Democratic state Representative Anthony Claude “Buddy” Leach, Jr., of Leesville, the seat of Vernon Parish, and Republican James H. “Jimmy” Wilson, a former state representative from Vivian in Caddo Parish. Leach went on to defeat Wilson by 266 disputed votes. Another candidate, State Representative Loy F. Weaver of Homer, the seat of Claiborne Parish, finished fourth in the initial balloting.
Roemer and Wilson again challenged Leach in the 1980 primary. That time, Wilson finished in a solid third place, and Roemer and Leach advanced to the general election held on the same day that Ronald Reagan won the presidential election over Jimmy Carter. Other primary candidates were State Representative Forrest Dunn of Shreveport, State Senator Foster Campbell of Bossier Parish, and former state Senator Cecil K. Carter, Jr., of Shreveport. Roemer scored a large victory over Leach, who had been hampered by allegations of vote-buying on his behalf in the 1978 elections.
Roemer frequently supported Reagan policy initiatives in Congress and fought with the Democratic congressional leadership, though he remained in the party. After Roemer left the House to become governor, he was succeeded by his administrative assistant, Republican Jim McCrery, also of Leesville and later of Shreveport.
Gubernatorial election of 1987
Buddy Roemer was one of a large number of Democratic candidates to challenge three-term incumbent governor Edwin Edwards, whose flamboyant personality and reputation for questionable ethical practices had polarized voters. Other candidates challenging Edwards in the primary had been Congressmen Bob Livingston, a Metairie Republican, and Billy Tauzin, a Democrat from Lafourche Parish. Outgoing Secretary of State James H. “Jim” Brown, originally a lawyer from Ferriday in Concordia Parish, finished in a weak fifth position.
Roemer led a fiery campaign calling for a “Roemer Revolution”, promising to “scrub the budget”, overhaul the education system, reform campaign finance rules, and slash the state bureaucracy by “bricking up the top three floors of the Education Building.” Perhaps the key moment in the 1987 race came at a forum between the candidates. As usual, the main topic of discussion was Edwin Edwards. His challengers were asked, in succession, if they would consider endorsing Edwards in the general election if they didn’t make it to the runoff. The candidates hedged, particularly Secretary of State Jim Brown. The last candidate to speak was Roemer: “No, we’ve got to slay the dragon. I would endorse anyone but Edwards.” The next day, as political commentator John Maginnis put it, Brown was explaining his statement while Roemer was ordering “Slay the Dragon” buttons. Boosted by his endorsement as the ‘good government candidate’ by nearly every newspaper in the state, Roemer stormed from last place in the polls and on election night, overtook Edwin Edwards and placed first in the primary election, with 33 percent of the vote compared with Edwards’ 28 percent.
Edwards, recognizing he could not make up the large number of votes which would be needed, withdrew from the pending general election with Roemer, an act which essentially handed the governorship to Roemer. By withdrawing, Edwards denied Roemer the opportunity to build a governing coalition in the general election race, thus denying him a decisive majority victory. Also, Edwards virtually ceded control of the state to Roemer even before his inauguration.
Roemer entered the governor’s office facing a $1.3 billion deficit in the state budget. His first chief of staff, Len Sanderson, Jr., had previously been a journalist from Alexandria and had run Roemer’s gubernatorial campaign and was a close confidant. He represented the reform-minded agenda that had redefined Louisiana politics during Roemer’s first session. According to Ron Gomez, Roemer’s secretary of natural resources and a former legislator from Lafayette, the LSU-educated Sanderson “with his blond hair spilling to below shoulder link, stepped on so many toes and got into so many faces that he didn’t make it into the second year.” After another interim appointment, Roemer named former State Representative P.J. Mills of Shreveport as chief of staff, to, in the words of Gomez, “bring some maturity and experience to the office.”  Other sources maintain that Sanderson was an effective chief of staff who left office solely to rehabilitate from a tragic automobile accident. In fact, the majority of reform legislation was passed during the first months of the Roemer administration while Sanderson was chief of staff. Many say that Sanderson’s departure was a turning point and that the “revolutionary character” of the administration moved from the successful reform platform toward a more traditional political agenda.
Roemer called a special session of the legislature to push an ambitious tax and fiscal reform program for state and local governments. He vowed to slash spending, abolish programs, and close state-run institutions. Voters rejected his proposals in a statewide constitutional referendum.
As governor, Roemer worked to boost lagging teacher pay and toughened laws on campaign finance. State employees and retirees received small pay increases too, the first in many years of austere state budgets. Roemer was also the first governor in state history to make a real effort to address environmental deficiencies. The legislature, dominated by supporters of Edwards, repeatedly opposed Roemer’s initiatives. Roemer also acquired a reputation for being difficult to work with, something he had been frequently accused of as a member of the House as well.
In 1990, Roemer vetoed an anti-abortion bill authored by Democratic Senator Mike Cross and supported by Roemer’s own choice for state Senate President, Allen Bares of Lafayette, as well as the influential Republican Senator Fritz Windhorst of Gretna. Roemer had chosen Bares as Senate president over Sydney B. Nelson of Shreveport, who had been politicking behind the scenes for months for the position. After two years, senators in a slap at Roemer, removed Bares from the position and returned previous president Sammy Nunez of Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish.
Roemer predicted that the Cross bill, which would have banned abortion in cases of incest, was incompatible with the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The veto alienated large numbers of his socially conservative electoral base. The bill was then passed over Roemer’s veto. In 1991, United States District Judge Adrian G. Duplantier of New Orleans, a former state senator, decreed that the measure was in conflict with Roe v. Wade, as Roemer had foreseen.
Roemer was widely mocked after a story appeared in the press explaining that he had his staffers wear rubber bands on their wrists to snap whenever they had negative thoughts. His second wife, the former Patti Crocker, left him in 1989.
Roemer also ushered in the modern era of gambling in Louisiana. In 1991, at his urging, the legislature legalized 15 floating casinos throughout Louisiana and video poker at bars and truck stops throughout the state. Roemer would leave office before the riverboat casinos or video poker went on line.
Despite his come-from-behind 1987 win for governor, and his reputed national ambitions, some argue Roemer’s performance in office appeared to be inconsistent and his relations with state legislators somewhat poor. Though he was considered an articulate reformer who won election promising a “revolution in Louisiana,” he supposedly compiled a thin record of lasting accomplishments during his gubernatorial term and presided over the legalization of a state lottery and controversial riverboat gambling, initiatives some reformers opposed.
1991 party switch
In March 1991, Roemer switched to the Republican Party just months before the state elections, apparently at the urging of Bush White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu. Ironically, Roemer, as a new Democratic governor, had appeared at the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans to greet the delegates. The convention was held in New Orleans through the urging of longtime Louisiana Republican National Committeewoman Virginia Martinez, who had worked for Livingston in the previous campaign. She was also the chairman of the 1988 Host Committee. Roemer’s handling of his mid-term party switch dismayed as many Republican politicians and activists as it did Democrats, and contributed to a reputation for erratic behavior. One particularly angered was Republican Party state party chairman William “Billy” Nungesser of New Orleans.
Defeat in 1991
The 1991 gubernatorial contest involved Roemer, Edwards, David Duke, and Eighth District Congressman Clyde C. Holloway of Forest Hill. Roemer came in third in the primary, which led to a nationally watched general election between Duke and Edwards. Roemer endorsed Edwards.
One of the contributing factors to Roemer’s defeat in the 1991 runoff election was a last-minute advertising barrage by Marine Shale owner Jack Kent. Marine Shale had been targeted by the Roemer administration as a polluter. Kent spent $500,000 of his own money in the closing days of the campaign to purchase anti-Roemer commercials.
Attempted comeback in 1995
In 1995, Roemer attempted a comeback, running again for governor. Having been squeezed out in 1991 between Edwards on the left and Duke on the right, Roemer chose to run on a much more conservative platform in 1995, emphasizing an anti-crime and anti-welfare stance. Roemer held a wide lead for much of the campaign, but faded in the days before the runoff as conservative state senator Mike Foster, who switched affiliation from Democratic to Republican during the campaign, peeled conservative votes away from him. Once again, a late barrage by Kent also damaged Roemer. He finished fourth, but only a few thousand votes short of a general election berth.
After the governorship
Having failed at his political comeback, Roemer has in recent years spent his time in the financial world. He has taken part in various investments, most notably a retirement community near the campus of Louisiana State University. In the summer of 2004, Roemer briefly considered entering the race to succeed retiring U.S. Senator John Breaux. Roemer passed on the race, and Republican Representative David Vitter of suburban New Orleans was elected to replace Breaux.
In June 2005, Roemer underwent triple bypass heart surgery at the Baton Rouge General Medical Center. In 2008, Roemer supported and campaigned for U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona for President of the United States.
Roemer is currently President and CEO of Business First Bank in Baton Rouge.
Ron Gomez said that he believes Roemer “could have been one of Louisiana’s great governors. The state’s horrible financial condition when he took office, his dependence on an inexperienced and sometimes rashly immature staff in his first year or so, an overly-ambitious legislative agenda and his own unpredictable dealings with individual legislators all contributed to the failures he suffered. Ultimately, all of these factors led to his running third, as the incumbent, in the 1991 gubernatorial election.” Gomez describes Roemer as “a dynamic orator who could light up an audience with his first two sentences. When he got wound up it was truly evangelical and, he made sense. His wiry, five foot seven, one-hundred thirty-five pound frame would seem to uncoil and grow as he outlined his vision as a fighter against crime, corruption and waste in government, poor education, taxes and industrial pollution.”
Biography compliments of Wikipedia