Former Louisiana Governor and Rep. David Treen Dies

Posted October 29, 2009 at 12:43pm

Former Rep. David C. Treen (R-La.) died this morning of respiratory illness. He was 81 years old.

Treen made his mark in Louisiana by forging a political career despite running at a time when the environment was particularly unfriendly toward Republicans. He ran for Congress three times, in 1962, 1964 and 1968, losing each time to Democrat Hale Boggs. Treen was finally elected in 1972, when he received the endorsement of four Democrats who had opposed him in the primary, and defeated Louis Lambert. He represented the third district in Congress until 1980, when he resigned to become governor of Louisiana.

Treen earned the distinction of being the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He replaced Edwin Edwards (D) in the office, but was defeated by him in the following election. The Louisiana secretary of state’s office credits Treen with establishing the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, and says Louisiana became a two-party state again during his brief tenure.

Treen earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Tulane University. His wife, Dodie, died in 2005. They had three children.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ordered that flags at the state Capitol be lowered to half-staff Thursday, in honor of his forebear.

“Our state will forever bear the mark of his decades of work and while he will be missed as a friend, a father, and a public servant, he will always live on in our history and most importantly, our hearts,— Jindal said in a statement.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon, who represents the 3rd district, also issued a statement.

“Whether serving in Congress or as governor, or working as a private citizen, Dave Treen always put Louisiana first. Dave was a bipartisan, middle-of-the-road compromiser who never forgot that there are greater principles worth fighting for beyond party and politics,— he said. “Dave will be remembered fondly by all of us who knew him as a warm, wonderful person and a committed reformer.—