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Jay Dardenne

Jay Dardenne
53rd Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana
Assumed office
November 22, 2010
Governor Bobby Jindal
Preceded by Scott Angelle
Secretary of State of Louisiana
In office
November 10, 2006 – November 22, 2010
Governor Kathleen Blanco
Bobby Jindal
Preceded by Al Ater
Succeeded by Tom Schedler
Member of the Louisiana Senate
from the 16th district
In office
Preceded by Kenneth Osterberger
Succeeded by Bill Cassidy
Personal details
Born John Leigh Dardenne, Jr.
(1954-02-06) February 6, 1954
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cathy McDonald
Children John
Alma mater Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Religion Judaism
Website Government Website

John Leigh "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. (born February 6, 1954), has been Louisiana's 53rd lieutenant governor since November 22, 2010. He won a special election to the position held in conjunction with the regular November 2 general election. At the time, Dardenne was Louisiana secretary of state. Formerly, Dardenne (pronounced DAR DEN)[1] was a member of the Louisiana State Senate from the Baton Rouge suburbs, having served from 1992 until his election as secretary of state on September 30, 2006.


  • Political overview 1
  • Personal information 2
  • State senator 3
  • Secretary of state candidacy and transition 4
  • Secretary of state 5
  • Lieutenant governor 6
  • 2011 reelection 7
  • 2015 governor's race 8
  • Election history 9
  • References 10

Political overview

Dardenne was reelected to a full term as secretary of state in the October 20, 2007, nonpartisan blanket primary. He received 758,156 votes (63 percent) to 373,956 (31 percent) for the Democrat Robert Wooley. A "No Party" candidate, Scott Lewis, received the remaining 64,704 votes (5 percent). Dardenne won fifty-eight of the state's sixty-four parishes. He outpolled gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, a fellow Republican, in raw votes and won sixty-one parishes to Jindal's sixty.[2]

On November 2, 2010, Dardenne was elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana, defeating opponent Caroline Fayard, a young Democrat originally from Denham Springs, in the 2010 State of Louisiana elections.[3] Tom Schedler, Dardenne's chief deputy in the secretary of state's office, succeeded him in performing the responsibilities of the secretary of state when Dardenne was sworn in as lieutenant governor.[4]

Dardenne polled 719,243 votes (57 percent) to Fayard's 540,633 (43 percent). Dardenne won most of the sixty-four parishes but lost Orleans, Caddo, and St. Landry.[5]

Personal information

Dardenne is the son of the late John Leigh Dardenne, Sr., and the former Janet Lucille Abramson.[6] He is married to the former Catherine "Cathy" McDonald (born 1955), and they have two sons.[7] Dardenne is Jewish[8] and the first known Jewish state constitutional officer in Louisiana since U.S. Senators Judah P. Benjamin and Benjamin F. Jonas in the 19th century.[9] Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana's current attorney general, is also Jewish.[10] and was first elected to that statewide position in 2007,[11] a year after Dardenne was elected to fill an unexpired term for Secretary of State. Dardenne is a graduate of Baton Rouge High School and Louisiana State University, from which he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. He procured a degree too from the Louisiana State University Law Center. He was elected student body president while at LSU.[7]

Dardenne speaking to the Hammond Chamber of Commerce luncheon in the Twelve Oaks Cafeteria at Southeastern Louisiana University on the topic of Louisiana's historical political figures.

Dardenne is active in social and civic endeavors in his native Baton Rouge and through non-profit organizations throughout Louisiana. He volunteers with the

Louisiana Senate
Preceded by
Kenneth Osterberger
Member of the Louisiana State Senate
from the 16th district

Succeeded by
Bill Cassidy
Political offices
Preceded by
Al Ater
Secretary of State of Louisiana
Succeeded by
Tom Schedler
Preceded by
Scott Angelle
Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana
  1. ^ With equal stress on both syllables as in French—IPA /dar·dən/.
  2. ^ Profile, GCR & Associates site; accessed January 26, 2015.
  3. ^ "Jay Dardenne elected to lieutenant governor". Times-Picayune. 2010-11-03. 
  4. ^ Anderson, Ed (2010-11-03). "Dardenne tops Fayard in lieutenant governor race: He rolls up big victory after intense campaign". Times-Picayune (Metro Edition). p. A14. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  5. ^ "Louisiana general election returns, November 2, 2010". November 4, 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e Campaign Website
  8. ^ Louisiana Jewish Heritage website,; accessed January 26, 2015.
  9. ^ Jewish Virtual Library, Earlier, prior to the American Civil War, Louisiana was represented in the U.S. Senate by Judah P. Benjamin, who became a cabinet officer in the Confederate government and, after the war, fled to England.
  10. ^ "Candidate bio: James "Buddy" Caldwell". Shreveport Times. 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  11. ^ "Candidate bio: Jay Dardenne". 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ November 8, 1987 Election Results, Secretary of State website,
  15. ^ October 1, 1988 Election Result,; accessed January 26, 2015.
  16. ^ November 16, 1991 Election Results, Secretary of State website; accessed January 26, 2015.
  17. ^ Shuler, Marsha. "Jay Dardenne: Served as outsider, insider". Advocate (Baton Rouge). Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Mike Francis for Secretary of State". Ouachita Citizen. 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  19. ^ a b September 30, 2006 Election Results, Secretary of State website
  20. ^ News AlertThe Dead Pelican,; accessed January 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "Johnny Gunter, "Young legacy to go beyond politics", April 10, 2010".  
  22. ^ "Mike Francis won't back Jay Dardenne's runoff effort", KATC-TV website; accessed January 26, 2015.
  23. ^ "Heitmeier Surrenders Secretary of State", Louisiana Political Report],; accessed January 26, 2015.
  24. ^ April 22, 2006 Election Results, Secretary of State website; accessed January 26, 2015.
  25. ^ "Politics Notebook for Feb. 11". Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA). Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Free admission offered at three major state museums", Alexandria Daily Town Talk; accessed January 26, 2015.
  27. ^ New Orleans Times-Picayune, State needs more than 5,000 poll commissioners, by Ed Anderson,
  28. ^ "Dardenne objects, but La. House panel OKs more satellite voting", KATC-TV website; accessed January 26, 2015.
  29. ^ Staff. "Jay Dardenne announces candidacy for lieutenant governor". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  30. ^ Anderson, Ed (2010-10-08). "Dardenne, Fayard garner ex-rivals' endorsements: Two left in race for lieutenant governor". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. A3. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  31. ^ Anderson, Ed (2010-10-09). "Davis endorses his GOP ex-rival: Dardenne vying for lieutenant governor". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. A4. Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  32. ^ Tidmore, Christopher (2010-10-11). "Louisiana Lt. Governor's Race: Dardenne Vs. Fayard Is Gender, Party, Region Showdown". BayouBuzz News. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  33. ^ Deslatte, Melinda (2010-10-11). "Analysis: GOP leader creates division as candidate". Daily Comet (Lafourche Parish, Louisiana). Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  34. ^ "Forums to feature race between Dardenne, Fayard". Times-Picayune (Metro Edition). 2010-10-10. p. A6. Retrieved 2010-10-10.  The Louisiana Public Broadcasting forum, actually videotaped on October 8, was announced by Bob Neese; the League of Women Voters' spokeswoman was Jean Armstrong.
  35. ^ Anderson, Ed (2010-10-04). "Lieutenant governor race is down to two: Jay Dardenne and Caroline Fayard". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. A2. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  36. ^ Maginnis, John (2010-10-13). "A historic race for lieutenant governor". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. B7. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  37. ^ Anderson, Ed; Moller, Jan (2010-10-20). "Dueling ads air in lieutenant governor race". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. A3. Retrieved 2010-10-20.  Cf.Anderson, Ed (2010-10-18). "Race for state's No. 2 office heats up: Dardenne, Fayard start trading barbs". Times-Picayune (Metro Edition). pp. A1, A4. 
  38. ^ Grace, Stephanie (2010-10-19). "Partisan divide comes late to Louisiana". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. B5. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  39. ^ Anderson, Ed (2011-10-01). "Dardenne-Nungesser slugfest is second to none on ballot: Duel makes race for governor looktame". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). pp. A1, A4. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  40. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 22, 2011". Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  41. ^ """Michelle Milhollin, "Jindal slashes funding for state treasurer: Jindal's 'streamlining' efforts trim critics' funding.  
  42. ^ "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 25, 2015. 


All election results taken from the Louisiana Secretary of State website

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican 504,228 (53%) Elected
Billy Nungesser Republican 444,750 (47%) Defeated

First Ballot, October 22, 2011

Threshold > 50%

Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, 2011
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
"Jay" Dardenne Republican 719,271 (57%) Elected
Caroline Fayard Democratic 540,649 (43%) Defeated

Second Ballot, November 7, 2010

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
"Jay" Dardenne Republican 180,944 (28%) Runoff
Caroline Fayard Democratic 159,507 (24%) Runoff
"Sammy" Kershaw Republican 126,166 (19%) Defeated
Kevin Davis Republican 51,542 (8%) Defeated
James "Jim" Crowley Democrat 51,461 (8%) Defeated
Others n.a. 85,496 (13%) Defeated

First Ballot, October 2, 2010

Threshold > 50%

Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, 2010
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
"Jay" Dardenne Republican 757,821 (63%) Elected
"R." Rick Wooley Democratic 374,199 (31%) Defeated
Scott Lewis Independent 64,723 (5%) Defeated

First Ballot, October 20, 2007

Threshold > 50%

Secretary of State of Louisiana, 2007
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
"Jay" Dardenne Republican Elected
Francis C. Heitmeier Democratic Withdrawn

Second Ballot, November 7, 2006

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
"Jay" Dardenne Republican 191,562 (30%) Runoff
Francis C. Heitmeier Democratic 179,153 (28%) Runoff
"Mike" Francis Republican 168,185 (26%) Defeated
Mary Chehardy Republican 56,225 (9%) Defeated
Others n.a. 48,802 (13%) Defeated

First Ballot, September 30, 2006

Threshold > 50%

Secretary of State of Louisiana, 2006
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Jay Dardenne Republican 34,679 (78%) Elected
Chris Warner Republican 9,758 (22%) Defeated

First Ballot, October 4, 2003

Threshold > 50%

Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 2003
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican Unopposed
Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 1999
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican Unopposed
Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 1995
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican 26,120 (52%) Elected
Lynda Imes Republican 23,934 (48%) Defeated

Second Ballot, November 16, 1991

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Lynda Imes Republican 21,679 (48%) Runoff
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican 18,642 (42%) Runoff
Francis Pellegrin Republican 2,098 (5%) Defeated
Others n.a. 2,391 (5%) Defeated

First Ballot, October 19, 1991

Threshold > 50%

Louisiana State Senate, District 16, 1991
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican 5,596 (62%) Winner
Craig S. Watson Democratic 2,175 (24%) Defeated
"Pam" Atiyeh Republican 1,005 (11%) Defeated
Mike Kolakowski Democratic 285 (3%) Defeated

First Ballot, October 1, 1988

Threshold > 50%

East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council, District 12, 1988
Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Larry S. Bankston Democratic 12,619 (51%) Elected
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican 12,332 (49%) Defeated

Second Ballot, November 8, 1987

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Larry S. Bankston Democrat 15,401 (46%) Runoff
John L. "Jay" Dardenne, Jr. Republican 10,313 (31%) Runoff
Johnny H. Dykes Democratic 3,790 (11%) Defeated
"Chuck" Hall Republican 2,046 (6%) Defeated
Others n.a. 2,063 (6%) Defeated

First Ballot, October 24, 1987

Threshold > 50%

Louisiana State Senate, District 15, 1987

Election history

Dardenne ran for governor of Louisiana in the October 24, 2015 primary election but finished in a fourth place with 166,553 votes (15 percent). The contest now heads to a November 21 general election between the top vote-getter, Democrat John Bel Edwards, a state lawmaker from Tangipahoa Parish, and his distant runner-up, Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter. Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Dardenne's predecessor as lieutenant governor, ran third but fell 41,200 votes short of obtaining a general election berth to the second-place candidate, Senator Vitter. Dardenne in turn trailed Angelle by more than 48,300 votes.[42]

2015 governor's race

In 2012, Dardenne complained of the lack of funds needed for tourism advertising, a main prerogative of the lieutenant governor's office in Louisiana. On June 15, 2012, Governor Jindal used his line item veto to strip $2 million for tourism advertising from Dardenne's office budget. Jindal also took aim at more than $500,000 from the departmental operating funds of Louisiana State Treasurer John N. Kennedy.[41]

The 2011 regular election for a four-year term as lieutenant governor was similarly raucous, as Dardenne was challenged by fellow Republican Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish and the son of the late former Republican Party state chairman William A. Nungesser.[39] In a low-turnout race, Dardenne defeated Nungesser, 504,228 votes (53.1 percent) to 444,750 ballots (46.9 percent).[40]

2011 reelection

Stephanie Grace offered an explanation for Dardenne's emphasis on national political themes as an accommodation to "Tea Party forces" in the backdrop of their having worked to defeat Hunt Downer, a veteran officeholder upset by a newcomer, Jeff Landry, in Louisiana's 3rd congressional district's 2010 Republican primary.[38] For further information about the 2010 election, please see Louisiana state elections, 2010#Lieutenant Governor.

The runoff campaign soon turned controversial as Dardenne described Fayard as a supporter of U.S. President Barack H. Obama, a proponent of gay marriage, and an opponent of the death penalty, while Fayard, who was 32 years of age and had never held political office, countered that Dardenne represented "the same old crowd" of Louisiana politics.[37]

Dardenne, rather, needs to raise the stakes of this election, emphasizing experience and readiness. Otherwise, should this become a beauty contest, he's got problems.[36]

Political columnist John Maginnis joked that

On October 4, 2010, Southeastern Louisiana University political scientist Michael Kurt Corbello summarized the runoff election between veteran officeholder Dardenne and political newcomer Fayard as "a very interesting, competitive race."[35]

Dardenne and Fayard appeared on the October 15 episode of the news magazine Louisiana: The State We're In televised by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and in an October 22 forum sponsored by the Baton Rouge League of Women Voters.[34]

Maybe he thinks that you can at the end of the day say, "Well, we just need to all come together." It just seems odd.[33]

Republican chairman Villere's endorsement of Dardenne, which came after months of criticizing the frontrunner, was met with incredulous statements like those of political scientist Pearson Cross of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette:

Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne (left) spoke on January 19, 2012, to the Hammond Chamber of Commerce, which met in Southeastern Louisiana University's Twelve Oaks Cafeteria. His presentation included popular songs associated with historic Louisiana political figures. The Lieutenant Governor's office is heavily involved in marketing the state for tourism. Dardenne believes that an untapped potential for Louisiana is to attract tourists on the basis of political legends. He recounted examples of humorous statements by former governors and State Senator Dudley J. LeBlanc, originator of Hadacol patent medicine.

[32] in the special election held on October 2. Leading a multi-candidate field with 28% of the ballots cast, Dardenne advanced to face Democrat [29] On February 12, 2010, Dardenne announced his intention to run for Lieutenant Governor

Lieutenant governor

Dardenne also objected to widespread satellite voting for Katrina evacuees on the basis that it would impose an overwhelming and impossible burden on election workers, stating that "if this bill passes, you are saying to them [election workers], you have to run an additional election for Orleans Parish. The 2006 mayoral race received special consideration because no other elections were held on that day. Dardenne did support the reinstatement of absentee voting provisions from the election.[28] In December 2007, Dardenne named a former state Senate colleague, Tom Schedler of St. Tammany Parish, a Republican, as his chief deputy. In 2008, Dardenne was mentioned as a possible United States Senate candidate against incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, but the Republican candidate was State Treasurer John N. Kennedy, a Democrat who switched to the GOP before qualifying for reelection in 2007.

Dardenne pushed for election reform. He opposes the establishment of satellite voting areas throughout the state and elsewhere for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Dardenne proposed that poll commissioner fees be increased, election day hours be shortened, and an early voting period to compensate for the reduced hours on election day.[27]

He also successfully pushed to cancel admission fees to the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport and the Old State Capitol and Old Arsenal Museum in Baton Rouge, saying that the financial loss from museum fees will be absorbed in his departmental budget through other cost reductions and that "people ought to be able to enjoy museums free of charge."[26] Dardenne has promoted tourism through his office and has taken a special interest in the creation of the Delta Music Museum and the companion restoration in 2008 of the Arcade Theatre in Ferriday.

Shortly after becoming secretary of state, Dardenne announced that he would personally participate in anti-litter efforts even though such activities are not within the domain of his office. Dardenne told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that he saw too much litter as the traveled the state in his campaign for secretary of state. "The landscape of our state is ... a window to the world. Anything we can do to call attention to this problem, we will do", Dardenne said.[25]

Secretary of state Jay Dardenne with TeamCPX in Fireball Run 2008.

Secretary of state

Dardenne, Francis, and two minor Republican candidates together received 54% of the vote in the city of New Orleans, the power base for the state Democratic Party. Two months earlier, two Republican candidates for mayor of New Orleans together barely polled 10 percent of the vote.[24]

Dardenne received 30 percent of the vote in the primary; Heitmeier, 28 percent, and Francis, 26 percent. Minor candidates took the rest of the vote. A Dardenne v. Heitmeier runoff loomed.[19] Francis chose not to endorse either candidate and stated his intentions to run for the seat in the 2007 regular election.[22] Francis did not seek the position in the primary held on October 20, 2007. About two weeks into the special election runoff campaign, Heitmeier withdrew. He cited the fact that his New Orleans black voter base had been decimated because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that without help from national Democrats, victory over Dardenne would be impossible. Perhaps, his action was premature in light of the national Democratic sweep in the 2006 midterm elections.[23]

Despite these attacks, Dardenne was able to project himself as the candidate of reform in the race, and racked up huge numbers of votes in the Baton Rouge area, the suburbs of New Orleans and even into the heavily Democratic city of New Orleans itself. He campaigned in North Louisiana with assistance of Monroe whose service dated back to the role of aide de camp under Governor John J. McKeithen, the father of Fox McKeithen.[21]

The major candidates in the race were Dardenne, Democratic state Senator Francis C. Heitmeier of New Orleans and Republican former State Chairman Mike Francis of Lafayette and Crowley.[19] The race was characterized by attacks on Dardenne from Francis (both taking pro-life positions) over predominantly social issues, including a vote that Dardenne cast in the 1990s for language in the federal Hyde Amendment which allows for federally funded abortions in the case of rape or incest. These exceptions have been included since 1977 in response to women's rights advocates, while abortion opponents argue that they punish the unborn for the crimes of the fathers. Dardenne maintained that his vote was required to allow the flow of Medicaid funds into Louisiana.[20]

Dardenne ran in the September 30 special election to complete the term vacated by the death of former Secretary of State W. Fox McKeithen, a fellow Republican who died in the summer of 2005. McKeithen had been temporarily succeeded by his friend, former Democratic State Representative Al Ater of Ferriday in Concordia Parish, at the time an assistant secretary of state under McKeithen, who chose not to run for the post in the special election.[18]

Secretary of state candidacy and transition

Following the election of Republican Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., as governor in 1995, Dardenne became the governor's floor leader and began to pass landmark legislation. He continued to push unsuccessfully for reforms in the administration of Foster's successor, Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. He did help pass constitutional amendments on term limits, coastal erosion, and victims' rights. He worked for the creation of a single State Board of Ethics, spearheading reform of the river pilots' system, and reducing government waste as the chairman of the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee.[7] In 2003, Dardenne was named the "National Republican Legislator of the Year".[7]

In 1991, Dardenne ran the District 16 seat in the state Senate vacated by the retiring Democrat-turned-Republican Kenneth Osterberger. In the primary, Dardenne trailed fellow Republican Lynda Imes, the District 8 member of the East Baton Rouge Metro Council. However, in the general election, Dardenne defeated Imes.[16] Dardenne quickly gained a reputation as a champion of reform and a thorn in the side of Democratic Governor Edwin Washington Edwards. However, few of his reform proposals were enacted.[17]

In 1987, Dardenne narrowly lost his first race for the District 15 state Senate seat to the Democrat Larry S. Bankston, one of three sons of former Democratic state party chairman and centenarian Jesse Bankston.[14] Dardenne then won an election for a seat on the East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council and held that seat until 1992.[15]

State senator

Dardenne has won "Dishonorable Mentions" for his entries in the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a competition where contestants submit bad opening lines to imaginary novels.[12] Dardenne also won the Most Vile Pun award in the contest.[13]


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