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KEEL'S Erin McCarty talks about the political legacy of former Governor Charles "Buddy" Roemer, how he became Governor of the state and why he was defeated after one term.

Roemer, who served as the state's chief executive from 1988 to 1992, passed away Monday at the age of 77.

"He was a Congressman from here in our 4th District," says McCarty, recalling the Roemer campaign and how he presented himself as the antithesis of then Governor Edwin Edwards, "He really wanted to see government reformed. He called it the Roemer Revolution. Those were the years, in the 80's, that things were starting to bubble up about corruption and Edwards had made some controversial statements.

"It was...a shocking ending because you had a sitting governor who was in trouble. And when Roemer beat him in the jungle primary, Edwards' people took him aside and said, 'You can't win.' So he withdrew."

So, why the single term? What went wrong for Roemer the governor after his success on the hustings? McCarty continues, "I think that if Buddy were sitting in this room with me today he would agree, that the Louisiana (political) swamp sucked him under. Not that he became corrupt, but that he tried to do things the right way...but he became mired in the quicksand that is Louisiana politics"

Roemer ran for reelection in 1991, but finished third in the primary behind Edwards and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. "It was dreadful," McCarty says, "Those were times that I wish we could edit out of our state's history. That was the campaign where we went to the polls holding our nose. You knew Edwards was mired in corruption...but you held your nose and pushed the button."

Post election Roemer retired from politics, getting into the banking business and settling in the Baton Rouge area. He'd suffered a stroke in 2014 which affected his ability to speak, limiting his public appearances. The former Governor died in Baton Rouge Monday morning.

 

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