Former Louisiana state governor Dave Treen died this week and I am reminded of meeting him at a function in the early 1980's. Louisiana was a Democrat stronghold and without a Republican governor since Reformation. Politically corrupt Democrat Edwin Edwards was limited to two consecutive terms thus forced to sit out one term before running again. Dave was the governor in the interim.
Dave Treen told this story
In his home parish (county to the rest of you people) Dave Treen and another man named Joe Boudreaux were the only two registered Republican voters. Joe Boudreaux was quite old, became ill and knew he would die soon. He summoned his last bit of energy and reported to the parish clerk of court to change his party affiliation to Democrat. Word soon got back to the last remaining Republican Dave Treen. Perplexed by the switch, Dave visited Joe Boudreaux at home, on his deathbed.
Dave asked if the party switch rumor was true. Boudreaux confirmed it.
"I don't just understand it, Joe. You have been a Republican since your very first vote. You believe in conservative government. And I know you worry about the future of Louisiana. And frankly, I wonder why. Have you had an epiphany? A change of heart? What has changed, Joe?"
"Aw, Dave, that's not it,"said Joe.
"But why? Tell me why you have been a staunch and outspoken Republican for over seventy years and now, for the last few days of your life here on earth, you want to be a Democrat?"
Joe took a labored breath and said, "Dave, it's simple. After I die, I still want to be able to vote."
The crowd laughed. We all had heard the stories of dead folks remaining on the voter register rolls and the signatures of deceased showing up on the election log books long after their funerals.
Dave served only one term as governor, continued to work for the Republican party but his greatest service to the Great State of Louisiana is when he urged all Republicans to vote for his nemesis "Slick Eddie" Edwin Edwards. White supremacist David Duke ran for governor against Edwards and was gaining ground. Voter discontent with the "Edwards machine", the state's backwards progress and just plain old racism allowed Duke to gain popularity. The polls showed a neck and neck race. National attention was focused on Louisiana. When Treen said that the state would be hurt more by Duke than Edwards, he was speaking volumes. Stickers soon appeared "Vote for the Crook", the crook was our former and future governor, Edwin Edwards. Duke lost the election.
Edwin finally got his just rewards. He was convicted of racketeering, sent to prison in 2002 and remains there today.
Rest in peace, Dave Treen.