Update: July 27, 2011 Buddy Roemer made the official announcement that he is running for President of The United States of America.
Charles Elson “Buddy” Roemer III was born on October 4, 1943 in Shreveport, Louisiana to Adeline and Charles E. “Budgie” Roemer II.
Buddy Roemer lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his third wife Scarlett. He has three children.
In 1989, he separated from his second wife, Patti. Their divorce was finalized in 1990, after 17 years of marriage.
1960- Graduated as valedictorian of Bossier High School
1964- Graduated from Harvard College
1967- Graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School
1960’s- Active in the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees)
1991 to 1997- Chairman of the Board for The Sterling Group, Inc.
Mr. Roemer was elected to the office of Governor of Louisiana as a Democrat, but changed to the Republican Party on March 11, 1991.
After college, Mr. Roemer returned home to Louisiana and worked with his father in the family computer business.
Today, he currently serves as the CEO and President of the bank he founded- Business First Bank in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
He has also invested in various business ventures, one of which is a retirement community near Louisiana State University.
1972- Elected as a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention which was held in 1973
Started a political consulting firm
1978- Ran for Congress but lost the election
1981 to 1988- U.S. Congressman
1988 to 1992- Governor of Louisiana
1991- Ran for Governor as the incumbent, but lost re-election in the primaries to the known “former” Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKKK) . Governor Roemer endorsed Edwin Edwards when it came down to Governor Edwards or David Duke.
1995- Ran for Governor again, but lost to Mike Foster
2004- Considered running for Senator to replace Senator John Breaux, who was retiring. He finally decided not to run for the office, and Republican Representative David Vitter was elected.
2011- Launched an exploratory committee for a possible run as the Republican 2012 presidential nominee
While serving in Congress, Mr. Roemer, who was still a Democrat at that time, often supported President Reagan’s policy initiatives, which cause conflict with the Democratic congressional leadership.
The Other Family Business
“Budgie” Roemer, Buddy’s father, was campaign manager for the now-infamous Governor Edwin W. Edwards’ first gubernatorial race. After Edwin Edward was elected governor, Budgie” Roemer became commissioner of administration during Edwards’ first term.
Buddy Roemer followed in his father’s footsteps and worked as a regional leader on the Edwards campaign.
Family Legal Issues and The Blame Game
In 1981, Buddy Roemer’s father, Charles “Budgie” Roemer II went to prison as a result of being convicted of conspiring to sell influence in awarding Louisiana state insurance contracts. Buddy Roemer blames Edwin Edwards for the elder Roemer’s legal problems. A mobster- Carlos Marcello, also went to jail. Three other people who were investigated were acquitted.
I talked with someone who has lived in Louisiana all their life. Now in their 60’s, this person is well aware on the political “goings on” of The Bayou State. I wanted to know this person’s personal opinion, from the “common man” viewpoint of the illegal activities that sent Mr. Charles “Budgie” Roemer to prison. This is the comment that I got as a response:
You can bet your bottom dollar that Edwin Edwards was well aware and intricately involved in everything that happened around the state of Louisiana and beyond where corruption was involved. From the underworld/mob activities intertwined in the JFK era to… well, probably even now as he is preparing to be released from prison, nothing happened that Edwin Edwards was not aware of.
So maybe there is some validity to Buddy Roemer’s accusation that Edwin Edwards is the cause of his father going to prison. Edwin Edwards is well-know for his corrupt ways. My “common man” contact stated that he would have to agree that Charles “Budgie” Roemer was essentially the “fall guy” for Governor Edwin Edwards. My contact also stated that the situation with Charles “Budgie” Roemer was just one of many instances that should have landed Governor Edwards in prison long before he actually heard the prison door slam behind him.
Road To The Governors Mansion
Buddy Roemer called his campaign for governor the “Roemer Revolution” and promised to “scrub the budget”, overhaul the education system, reform campaign finance rules and slash the state bureaucracy by “bricking up the top three floors of the Education Building”.
The defining moment of the 1987 race in a forum between the gubernatorial candidates. The main topic of discussion was incumbent Governor Edwin Edwards, whose arrogant attitude and bombastic personality had the reputation of having questionable ethical practices.
The question presented to the forum was whether or not they would consider endorsing Governor Edwards in the general election if they did not make it to the runoff. None of the other candidates were willing to step out boldly, one way or another. Buddy Roemer was the last candidate to speak, and responded:
“No, we’ve got to slay the dragon. I would endorse anyone but Edwards.”
This bold statement bolstered his endorsement as the “good government candidate” by nearly every newspaper in Louisiana. Overnight, Mr. Roemer went from last in the polls to the top of the list. On the night of the election, Buddy Roemer won the primary with 33 %, of the votes, compared to Edwin Edwards’ 28% of the votes. Governor Edwards realized he could not win the general election and withdrew from the race, which virtually gave the governorship to Buddy Roemer.
52nd Governor of Louisiana
Governor Roemer came into office in 1988 with a $1.3 billion state budget deficit staring him in the face.
Len Sanderson, Jr., Governor Roemer’s first chief of staff, took on the role of representing the reform-minded agenda that redefined Louisiana politics during Roemer’s first session. There were many who did not take kindly to Mr. Sanderson’s approach. It has been speculated that due to his boldness, and the obvious displeasure of of his boldness, he was removed from his position as chief of staff.
However, most reform legislation that passed while Governor Roemer was in office was past in the first months of the Roemer administration- the time in which Mr. Sanderson was chief of staff. It has been said that when Mr. Sanderson left his position as chief of staff the “revolutionary character” of the successful reform platform administration changed into a more traditional political agenda.
In a special session of the legislature, Governor Roemer touted an ambition tax and fiscal reform program for state and local governments. He promised to slash spending, abolish programs and close state-run institutions. His proposals were rejected by the voters in a statewide constitutional referendum.
Governor Roemer was the first Louisiana governor in state history to undertake the failing environmental issues. Interestingly enough, in the 1991 run-off election for governor, Marine Shale owner Jack Kent spent $500,000 of his own money on TV commercials to target the Roemer administration as a polluter.
1990- Governor Roemer vetoed a pro-life bill, stating that it would ban abortion in cases of incest and would have been incompatible with the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. This decision angered Governor Roemer’s socially conservative voters. The bill later passed despite Governor Roemer’s veto, but in 1991 it was determined to be in conflict with Roe v. Wade.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Governor Roemer received a lot of criticism when he hired one of his friends to teach his staff positive thinking. The staff wore rubber bands on their wrists and were told to snap the rubber-band when they had negative thoughts.
The Party Switch
When Governor Roemer switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party mid-term of his governorship disturbed politicians and activists on both sides of the aisle. This mid-term switch earned him the reputation of having “erratic behavior”.
It is said that Governor Roemer was urged to switch from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party by Bush White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu.
Governor Roemer, a new Democratic governor, actually attended the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans to welcome the Republican delegates.
Accomplishments As Governor of Louisiana
Under Governor Roemer Louisiana saw some marked improvements from the previous years of well-known corruption under Governor Edwin Edwards.
During his time in the governors mansion:
- Unemployment in Louisiana dropped to nearly half what it was when Governor Roemer took office.
- Although he inherited a large deficit, Louisiana’s budget was balanced every year under Governor Roemer.
- Governor Roemer brought accountability to the education system by enacting accountability for teacher’s pay according to their performance.
- As governor, he challenged the government unions and passed campaign finance reform legislation.
Who He’s Endorsed
2008- Supported and campaigned for John McCain
When asked how he would compare or contrast himself with John McCain, he answered:
“Younger, hair not quite as gray. … In a lot of ways John and I are alike. We believe foreign policy ought to be robust. … John and I always got along even when we disagreed, but I’m a little bit different in a fundamental thing. I presented to John four years ago the $100 (max campaign donation) issue. … They gave it a lot of thought, and I hate to tell your readers this, but some experts, including John, didn’t think it was possible.”
June 2005- Governor Roemer underwent triple bypass heart surgery
Hall of Fame
2000- Governor Roemer was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, Louisiana.
Ron Gomez, a veteran journalist, author and former Louisiana State Representative said of Buddy Roemer:
“[he] could have been one of Louisiana’s great governors. The state’s horrible financial condition when he took office, his dependence on an inexperienced and sometimes rashly immature staff in his first year or so, an overly-ambitious legislative agenda and his own unpredictable dealings with individual legislators all contributed to the failures he suffered. Ultimately, all of these factors led to his running third, as the incumbent, in the 1991 gubernatorial election.”
Mr. Gomez went on to describe Buddy Roemer as:
“a dynamic orator who could light up an audience with his first two sentences. When he got wound up it was truly evangelical and, he made sense. His wiry, five foot seven, one-hundred thirty-five pound frame would seem to uncoil and grow as he outlined his vision as a fighter against crime, corruption and waste in government, poor education, taxes and industrial pollution.”
There are some that have maintained that Governor Roemer’s effectiveness as governor was inconsistent and his performance in office was inconsistent. Others have said his relationship with state legislators was lacking as well.
Governor Roemer has been described as very eloquent in his speech, talking clearly and concisely of being a reformer. However his record of true accomplishments during his governorship left constituents a bit riled up. Two of these hot-button issues/accomplishments are the Louisiana state lottery and riverboat gambling, both of which were legalized under Governor Roemer.
Governor Roemer earned a reputation for being difficult to work with, which was consistent with the reputation he earned as a member of the House as well.
2012 Presidential Campaign
Governor Roemer made the public announcement in January 2011 that he was considering a run for the presidency in 2012.
He made another public announcement on March 3, 2011 stating that he had formed an exploratory committee to prepare for his possible run for president on the Republican ticket.
In his announcement, Governor Roemer stated that the main issue of his campaign would be campaign finance reform.
Governor Roemer has pledged that he will not accept any campaign contributions from PACs or special interest groups. He has also pledged that he will not accept donations of more than $100, and has stated on his official website that he will report every single donation that he receives, no matter how small, whether mandated by federal law or not.
On The Issues
Quoting from Governor Roemer’s official website, his stand on the issues are stated as follows:
I want a President who is free to lead. Free to control the federal spending that is bankrupting our nation. Free to strive for energy independence by the end of this decade and bring our Armed Forces home from “oil” duty. Free to make the tax code simpler and to eliminate corporate and Wall Street welfare. Free to change the healthcare law to eliminate money favors to insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. Free to make sure Wall Street’s gambles don’t impact Main Street taxpayers.
Yes, we will talk about a lot of issues in this campaign. But we will start by tackling special interest money that impacts all the rest.
Self-described as a “pro-life traditional values man”
Governor Roemer is one of five candidates who appeared at the 2012 March forum in Iowa which was sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
On The Web
Buddy Roemer 2012 Official Website
Buddy Roemer on Facebook
Buddy Roemer on Twitter
Buddy Roemer on YouTube