Leslie Turk

Former Gov. Treen dead at 81

by Leslie Turk

Former Gov. Dave Treen died early this morning at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie from respiratory illness complications. He was 81.

Treen became the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction when he was elected in 1979, after Edwin Edwards was forced to the sidelines by a two-term limit. Four years later, however, the charismatic Democrat defeated the incumbent 62 percent to 36 percent, making Treen a one-term governor. In recent years, Treen has been at the forefront of the effort to free Edwards from prison.

The Times-Picayune reported today on the late governor:
In 1995, he announced his candidacy for governor but dropped out because of "a family situation" before he had assembled a campaign staff or raised much money. He sought to return to Congress in 1999 when Rep. Bob Livingston, R-Metairie, resigned, but was defeated by then-state Rep. David Vitter. He publicly mulled other political races, but never again returned to elected office. More recently, Treen had worked to get a pardon for Edwards, who is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence for corrupting the state's riverboat casino licensing process. Treen lobbied President George W. Bush for the pardon, but Bush left office without taking action.

"Louisiana has lost a visionary leader and a tireless advocate for our state, with the passing of Governor Dave Treen," Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement today. "Governor Treen was a true statesman with a servant’s heart, and his desire to improve our state was only surpassed by his kindness and humility. 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 has ordered that the flags at the Louisiana Capitol be flown at half-staff in remembrance of Treen.

Read more about the well-respected late governor and his contributions to the state in today's T-P.