Woody Jenkins

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Woody Jenkins : biography

January 3, 1947 –

Other political ventures

When Republicans failed to field candidates for the United States Senate in 1978 against Democratic Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., and again in 1980 against Russell B. Long, Jenkins opposed both incuments, running as a Democrat. In 1978, Jenkins won twenty-eight parishes, but Johnston prevailed, 58-42 percent. In the 1980 race, Jenkins criticized Long’s support of the Panama Canal Treaty. He said Long was "the most powerful man in the Senate, but he isn’t using that power for us." Again, Jenkins lost, 59-41 percent. In both races, he was outspent by large margins, 5 to 1 in the Johnston race and 10 to 1 in the Long race. In the second of those campaigns, Republican Senator Bob Dole of Kansas made a campaign commercial for his friend Russell Long.

In 1972, Jenkins made an effort to promote the influence of conservative Democrats. He endorsed conservative Mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles, California, for the party’s presidential nomination, eventually secured by U.S. Senator George S. McGovern of South Dakota. In 1976, he was elected as Louisiana’s member of the Democratic National Platform Committee where he offered numerous conservative proposals during the meetings in Washington, D.C. He was the only member of the committee to vote against the final version of the platform.

In early 1980, Jenkins was elected Democratic National Committeeman from Louisiana over the opposition of then outgoing Governor Edwin Edwards, but Jenkins resigned that position in October 1980 to campaign for Ronald W. Reagan for president, while Edwards stood with President Jimmy Carter.

In 1981, Jenkins and later U.S. Representative Clyde C. Holloway of Rapides Parish, one of the four parishes that Jenkins had carried in his 1980 Senate race against Russell Long, spoke at a rally in Alexandria. There the two endorsed proposed constitutional amendments to halt forced busing for the purpose of integrating public schools and to require the election, instead of presidential appointment and U.S. Senate confirmation, of U.S. judges. Jenkins told the rally:

What we need in America is a constitutional amendment against forced busing, and any American who says he is against busing and won’t support a constitutional amendment is a liar."Hundreds rally in Alexandria", Minden Press-Herald, January 15, 1981, p. 1

In 1989, Jenkins joined a coalition of mostly supporters of Edwin Edwards to defeat a tax reform referendum designed by the Roemer administration to reduce sales taxes and state income taxes while raising property taxes. The successful opponents to the reform measure also included newly-elected State Representative David Duke, former and later Speaker John Alario, and Victor Bussie, long-term president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO.Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I’m a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000, pp. 255-256, ISBN 0-9700156-0-7

In 1994, after twenty-two years as a Democrat, Jenkins held a news conference with U.S. Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, a Democrat-turned-Republican, to announce his decision to change his party affiliation to Republican. Jenkins said that he felt conservatives no longer had any hope of influencing the direction of the Democratic Party.

Later developments

In private life, Jenkins has been active in efforts to assist refugees and poor people in Latin America. Jenkins has visited Latin America more than sixty times.

Jenkins served as CEO for WBTR-TV in Baton Rouge from 1987 to 2004. He was named to the LSU School of Journalism Hall of Fame in 1991; "Legislator of the Year" by the National Taxpayers Union, 1977, and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, 1990; 96 percent rating, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry; recipient, Winston Churchill Award, Council for National Policy, 1990; producer, Baton Rouge Today, named "Outstanding Local News Program in the U.S." by Community Broadcasters Association, 1992; named "Louisiana’s Pro-Family, Pro-Life Champion" by Christian Coalition of Louisiana for his service in the legislature; listed in Who’s Who in America; B.A., Journalism, Juris Doctor, LSU.