Politics 09.03.2008

Charles deGravelles dies, Jim Roy heads LSU System board and more


Well-respected Louisiana Republican leader and oilman Charles C. deGravelles died yesterday at the age of 95. He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Virginia Wheadon deGravelles.

Commonly regarded as the founder of the modern Republican Party in Louisiana, “Charlie” deGravelles was a national Republican Committee member and served as state Republican Party chairman from 1968-72. He worked tirelessly to build a two-party system in the state (joking at the time that all of the state’s Republicans could fit in a phone booth) because he believed Louisiana would never escape its reputation for corruption without a solid two-party system.

deGravelles and his wife spent countless hours working to elect Republicans to office. They were recognized with the George Washington Medal of Honor Freedom Award and were inducted as a couple into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2007. In the early days of building the state’s Republican Party, the membership met in the deGravelles living room to pick straws to see who would run for office.

The couple helped form Republican Women’s Clubs and Young Republican organizations throughout the state. Many of those members are now elected officials.


Lafayette attorney Jim Roy has succeeded Jerry Shea Jr. of New Iberia as chairman of LSU’s 16-member board of supervisors. Roy is managing member of the civil litigation law firm of Domengeaux Wright Roy & Edwards and is past president of the Louisiana Association for Justice. Appointed to the LSU System board by then Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2005, Roy was chairman-elect last year, putting him in line to automatically become chairman.

Just before Roy was sworn in at last week’s meeting, however, a bit of controversy broke out, noted Baton Rouge’s Daily Report. The board was split on selecting a new chairman-elect, although board member Alvin Kimble was assumed to be a shoo-in for the slot with 14-2 support. According to the online news service, no other members had expressed interest in seeking the spot until the 11th hour, when board member Dr. John George threw his hat in the ring: “Board members siding with Kimble charged interference by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office with getting some members to change their vote in favor of George, a Shreveport physician. Board member Laura Leach flew back from the Democratic National Convention in Denver in order to vote in support of Kimble. Those in favor of George said no coercion from Jindal’s office took place, but did not deny communications had taken place,” Daily Report wrote. “While board member Tony Falterman argued passionately that the board is an independent body and shouldn’t be swayed by the governor, others argued that having a good relationship with the governor — by electing George — would be good for LSU. After another split decision on whether to delay the vote until the next board meeting, the board recessed for 15 minutes. Upon return the motion to defer the vote was carried, and new board chairman James Roy was sworn in.”

During his tenure on the board, 56-year-old Roy has served on the executive committee, the flagship agenda committee and the audit committee. He also has been chairman of the finance and infrastructure committee and vice-chairman of the athletic committee.

Roy has been extensively involved in LSU-related activities for years, serving as annual fund chairman for LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where he is a member of the Law School Alumni Board of Trustees as well as the Chancellor’s Council.

A Top 100 supporter of the Tiger Athletic Foundation, Roy and his wife, Ginger, have endowed the Jim and Ginger Roy Family TAF Foundation of Champions Scholarship for student athletes.

The Board of Supervisors is responsible for the oversight and management of the LSU System’s 11 institutions.

State Sen. Don Cravins Jr., the Democratic challenger to Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, raised some $41,000 more than the incumbent over the most recent fund-raising period, from July 1 - Aug. 17. Cravins raised $147,920 in the pre-primary filing period, while Boustany brought in $106,725, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission last week. Boustany is still working with a more sizeable campaign warchest; he reported having $681,121 cash on hand. Cravins’ total cash on hand for the Nov. 5 election is now $186,461.

In a press release announcing his latest fund-raising totals, Cravins notes that approximately 60 percent of his campaign funds have come from Louisiana donors.

If Louisiana’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention looked a little weary last Monday, it’s because they blew it out Sunday night. At the opening shindig at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, a dozen of New Orleans’ funkiest jammed together, reuniting three of the original Meters in a set that likely would have packed Tipitina’s right out onto the sidewalk. The concert was designed as a fund-raiser for the Friends of New Orleans to help lift consciousness and make Hurricane Katrina recovery a national issue during the presidential race this fall. Wrote the Denver Post’s Jason Blevins, “The Meters anchored a nightlong event that was designed to float Louisiana and its variety of ills to a heavy-hitting audience of politicos. They called it the New Orleans All-Star Jam-Balaya. Cyril Neville called it gumbo.”

Contributors: Leslie Turk and Mary Tutwiler