Saturday, February 29, 2020
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Louisiana’s last Long exits political stage ending century-long dynasty


When state Sen. Gerald Lengthy exits the Louisiana Legislature Monday it is going to be the primary time in a century the state received’t have somebody from the Lengthy household lineage serving in elective political workplace.

Huey P. Lengthy, whose statue overlooks the state Capitol constructed on his watch, started the dynamic dynasty in 1918 after being elected to the Public Service Fee, adopted by his election as governor in 1928.

He was elected to the United States Senate in 1932 and served there till his assassination within the Louisiana Capitol in 1935.

“It’s the tip of an period,” stated Gerald Lengthy, 75, of Natchitoches, who was time period restricted after serving 12 years within the state Senate. “I don’t have a baby or a grandchild or a cousin who’s even speaking about working for elective workplace.”

Whereas Huey formed the state greater than every other politician earlier than or since, he was adopted by an extended line of highly effective siblings, cousins and son Russell Lengthy, who grew to become an icon within the U.S. Senate.

Huey’s brother “Uncle” Earl Lengthy additionally grew to become a strong three-time Louisiana governor, whereas voters despatched a succession of cousins like Gillis Lengthy and Speedy Lengthy to Congress and Gerald’s brother Jimmy Lengthy and others to the state Legislature.

Gerald Lengthy, who broke the Democratic household ranks as a Republican out of political necessity in an more and more pink state, embraces his household’s historical past and legacy.

“Throughout a lot of the 20th Century politicians had been much less recognized as Republicans and Democrats and extra recognized as Longs or anti-Longs,” Gerald stated.

“I’m so proud the Longs embraced public schooling and its entry to all individuals wealthy or poor. My two political heroes are Huey and Jimmy,” he stated.

Gerald Lengthy stated his sharecropper mother and father Reuben and Ruby Lengthy had been among the many poorest individuals in Winn Parish, the place the seeds of the Lengthy dynasty had been sown.

However by some means they supplied for Gerald and his seven brothers, together with twin brother Carroll. The twins had been the infants of the household.

“They by no means owned a automobile,” stated Gerald, whose mother and father moved from Tannehill to Winnfield in 1948 when his father landed a job as a janitor for town.

Quickly after Gerald and twin brother Carroll had been born in 1944, Earl Lengthy and his spouse Blanche pulled as much as Reuben’s and Ruby’s farm home in a black Cadillac with a shocking proposition.

“My mom informed the story 1,000 occasions,” Gerald stated. “They got here inside the home and Earl stated, ‘Miss Ruby, I need to inform you why we’re right here. You already know Blanche and I can’t have kids and we need to undertake these twin boys. We will present the whole lot they might ever want.’

“My mom began crying and stated, ‘Governor, you have got honored us in the present day, however there’s one factor you possibly can’t give them that I can, and that’s their mom’s love.’”

Gerald Lengthy would go on to earn a scholarship to Northwestern State College in Natchitoches and construct a profitable profession within the insurance coverage business.

“It wasn’t till I bought to Northwestern that I noticed how poor we actually had been, however I additionally realized my mother and father had transferred to us what cash couldn’t purchase – religion and household,” he stated.

Gerald stated his older brother Jimmy, who served greater than 30 years within the state Home, recommended him after Gerald received his state Senate seat.

“He stated the one factor I used to be taking to Baton Rouge was my title and my integrity and after I left Baton Rouge to ensure I introduced that title and integrity again residence,” Gerald Lengthy stated. “I consider I’ve performed that.

“I hope I’ve left a small footprint within the Lengthy legacy that made Louisiana higher,” he stated. “I consider the Lengthy household will all the time be tied to the wants of the individuals – schooling, well being care and highways.”

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Community of Louisiana. Observe him on Twitter @GregHilburn1

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