Heard on the Hill

Take Five: John Kennedy

Louisiana Republican senator misses his law school gig

Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy has researched bus tours around D.C. and hopes to take one soon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, 65, shares his thoughts on Congress so far, why he chose not to continue teaching law school, and what he eats when his wife isn’t in D.C.

Q: In your first couple of months here, what have you discovered about the Senate that you didn’t know before?

[D.C. Mardi Gras Gives Louisiana Delegation a Taste of Home]

A: I think I knew all this intellectually, but you have to see it. It’s very fast-paced. I like to read about issues and read about policy. It’s harder to carve out the time to do that than it was in my former job. [Editor’s note: Kennedy spent the previous 17 years as Louisiana treasurer.] You have no time during the day; I have to do it on weekends and at night.

We have too many people on Capitol Hill, not just congressmen and congresswomen or senators, but too many [of] everybody who are more interested in advancing a policy principle as opposed to trying to do what they think is best for this country. I think that’s unfortunate. Now, not everybody’s like that, but there’s a lot of them like that and way more than I ever imagined.

[Take Five: Maggie Hassan]

Q: Is it hard not teaching law school right now? [Editor’s note: While treasurer, Kennedy was also an adjunct professor at the LSU law school.]

A: This is the first spring I haven’t taught in 15 years. I always taught on Wednesday nights, and every Wednesday night now, just subconsciously, I think I’m supposed to be somewhere. I’ve done it for so long, I miss it. But there was no way I could have done it and be in the Senate and be fair to the students. I hadn’t figured out a way. I knew at least until I get settled I would have to miss a lot of classes. When I was in law school, I had professors who missed a lot of classes and I didn’t like it and I swore if I taught I’d never do it to the students.

Q: Have you been able to explore D.C. at all?

A: No. I’ve thought about it. I’ve actually researched what’s the best tour — just getting on a bus and taking the regular ol’ tourist’s tour. During inauguration week, my wife and I were able to split away and go to the National Gallery. It’s a great exhibit. Of course, I’ve been to D.C. many times and I worked up here one summer for a law firm when I was in law school. But, it’s obviously changed a lot since then.

[Take Five: Brian Mast]

Q: What’s your favorite dish from Louisiana?

A: Crawfish. I’m not much of a cook but my wife, she’s an excellent cook and she likes to cook. When she’s not here — Becky has a job back home and a career of her own, but she does come up when she can — she likes to cook. I don’t have the patience for it and so my choice is generally a ham or turkey sandwich.

Q: You’re an avid fisherman, what kind of fishing do you do?

A: I especially like to fly fish. In Louisiana, salt water fly fishing is very popular and I like it but I usually don’t have as much time for it and I live near several freshwater bodies of water. I love it, I think I have really two hobbies. One is fly-fishing, I like to hunt, too — duck hunting. I guess I’d include that, and the other one’s reading. And that’s about all I have time for. I read some nonfiction, but, frankly, I like to read fiction more.

[Take Five: Todd Young]

Quick Hits

  • Last book you read: “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
  • Last movie you saw: “The Hateful Eight”
  • Favorite song of all time: “Bat Out of Hell” by Meat Loaf
  • Role model: My dad
  • Closest to in Congress: Sen. [Bill] Cassidy, R-La., and I are old friends.

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