Hopefully last week’s column about “Louisiana Colonels” enlightened you of the absurdity of games our public officials sometimes play. This one was not expensive but others are. I’ve never been decommissioned and through four wars I was never activated. Just kidding! I never took it seriously but some did, to their disappointment.
Now a re-cap: In 1952 the “All Parish” ticket had elected Governor Robert Kennon, Senator Clyde Caillouet, State Representatives Richard “Dick” Guidry and R.J. Soignet, Clerk of Court Ambroise Landry and Coroner Dr. Philip Robichaux.
The “Old Regulars” had kept Sheriff Frank Ducos and Assessor Max Rizan.
Clyde, R.J. and Dick were defeated in the Earl Long sweep of 1956. Landry stayed and served for 30 year until his retirement. His successor Bobby Theriot was defeated by Landry’s nephew Vernon Rodrigue who will retire at the end of this term. Dr. Robichaux served successfully for many years and Dick Guidry later made a long and honorable comeback.
Sheriff Ducos was too ill to run for re-election and died in 1956. He was succeeded by his Chief Deputy Eddie St. Marie who after several terms was defeated by state trooper Bobby Tardo.
Tardo was defeated by his deputy Duffy Breaux who was defeated by state trooper Craig Webre who is still serving as Sheriff today.
The careers of Tardo and Breaux did not end well. I was Assessor during their terms and we shared mutual respect but they are gone and their stories are history. Let it be.
Tragically less than one year after his 1952 re-election, well-liked Assessor Max Rizan died in office. The law then stated the Governor would appoint an acting Assessor until an election was called. Representatives of both
Lafourche Parish political factions rushed to Baton Rouge with candidates to replace Mr. Rizan.
The “Old Regulars” offered Irby Dugas, a license bureau official and brother of future District Attorney Francis Dugas and the “All Parish” submitted Chief Deputy Assessor Hubert P. Robichaux who broke ranks with Rizan’s political faction and joined “All Parish”.
He had been an employee of former Assessor Dave Robichaux who was defeated by Mr. Rizan in 1948. Rizan had kept Robichaux and now with the support of the Lafourche Parish Legislative delegation, he got the appointment.
Today, the law states that when an official dies in office, like my son Assessor Michael Martin did, the Chief Deputy, in this case Wendy Thibodeaux, would become acting Assessor. She did and recently won the office in a hard fought election, defeating capable opponents.
Now an election was called for the Assessor’s full term. Robichaux qualified along with Irby Dugas and Roy Dupuy. It was a return match for the “All Parish” and “Old Regular” organizations and the old “War Horses” like Harvey Peltier, Sr. and Dave Robichaux returned to the stump. It would be as hard fought and bitter as the last one.
Political leader Dr. John Gravois, who lead the South Lafourche supporters of Hubert Robichaux, dropped by my house one day. From 1928 to the late thirties, he was our only doctor, was well respected and had saved my life when I was two years old. (I won’t discuss the merits of that.)
“Leroy,” he said, “help us in this campaign with your band and public relations like the last election, and we’ll help you. There has never been a South Lafourche employee in the courthouse in Thibodaux except Sheriff Frank Ducos, and he was a Thibodaux citizen when elected. If elected, Assessor Robichaux will appoint his Chief Deputy from South Lafourche.”
I learned later that although not necessarily me, that was the agreement that cinched Robichaux’s appointment.
Once again, I was offered a job I didn’t want, working for a man I didn’t know, in an office I knew nothing about, an 8 to 5 job after a year of playing music, sponging room and board from my parents, and sleeping until noon every day … all predicated on someone winning an election that I wasn’t sure he could. Sounded like a winner. Go for it!
Next week … the results, the aftermath and my last political column … for a while.
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Posted on Tue, September 1, 2015
by The Lafourche Gazette