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GOP "Hick" Senator John Kennedy

Educated “Hick” Louisiana GOP Senator John Kennedy—He Plays Straight to his MAGA Base December 3, 2023


Most Democrats think that the GOP legislative crowd basically consists of unintelligent loudmouth “critters” who easily play to a similarly low educated base of voters. However, not all “Team Red” members fall into this category. Some of them are highly educated. They put on a “just folks /hick” act to get their constituents to listen to and believe what they say, and often get away with it. Louisiana GOP U.S. Senator John Kennedy (no relation to the MA Kennedys) falls into this class.


At a November 28, 2023 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the epidemic of gun violence, Sen. Kennedy, with his inflammatory and “hick” act went after Yale School of Public Health Dr. Megan Ranney. He boldly stated, “Let me ask you this. Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range? Do you think it’s because of Chicago citizens, who have no criminal record, but who lawfully have a gun in their homes for protection, or perhaps for hunting? Or do you think it’s because of a finite group who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm (dailykos.com, 11/28/23, TheCriticalMind)?” Notice the “y uu ge” racial dog whistles Kennedy employs. Chicago, a heavily Black city, the home of former African American President Barack Obama, has become the poster child for the MAGA gang of Democratically-run cities. And remember “King Kong?” He was the Black beast who grabs blonde white Fay Wray in the 1930’s movie and wants to throw her off the Empire State Building. Kennedy also stated that Chicago has more homicides than any other U. S., city, including New York with 433 and Los Angeles with 382 in 2022 (kos.com). These comparisons are not meaningful. Per capita statistics are. Under that metric, Chicago is BEHIND 13 other U.S. cities in homicides. And two of those cities are from Sen. Kennedy’s own home state. New Orleans is #4 and Baton Rouge is #5 with “shooting ranges” that have murder rates twice that of Chicago (dailykos.com, 11/28/23). Dr. Ranney replied to Kennedy, “So Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates.” And get this. Kennedy’s LA is the second most murderous state. LA is the third lowest in life expectancy. It is one of the nine “Red” states on the top ten list of places where citizens die young. Kennedy did not want to hear any of this and kept yelling endlessly about Chicago (dailykos.com 11/28/23). Senator Kennedy knows or should have known better. Let’s look at this “hick’s” (NOT) background.


Second-term U.S. Senator John Neely Kennedy (72) is currently LA ‘s junior Senator. Centreville, Mississippi native Kennedy was raised in Zachary, Louisiana, a city in East Baton Rouge Parish, 16 miles north of LA’s capital, Baton Rouge (census.gov). He was co-valedictorian of his 1969 high school graduating class. Kennedy received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, considered a Southern Ivy school, where Bill Clinton VP Al Gore went. At Vanderbilt, Kennedy had an interdepartmental major in political science, philosophy, and economics, a demanding curriculum. Kennedy was elected president of his senior class and was nominated to the prestigious honor society Phi Beta Kappa. He received a 1977 law degree from the University of Virginia Law School where he was an executive editor of the Virginia Law Review, an honor reserved for high-ranking students. Kennedy was elected to the legal honor society Order of the Coif, given to the top 10% of law school graduates (Bernstein, M., 5/28/17, content.law.virginia.edu). In 1979, Kennedy earned a Bachelor of Civil Law degree with first-class honors from England’s Oxford University (southeastern.edu, 11/22/15). Kennedy is, therefore, far from being an uneducated “hick.” He is one America’s best-educated politicians. Kennedy privately practiced law from 1985-1987 and from 1992-1996. From 2002-2016, he served as an adjunct professor at Louisiana State University’s Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge (newspapers.com, `10/13/91, Shreveport Times, treasury.louisiana.gov, 6/26/14). During this time, “hick” Kennedy published many books and articles dealing with products liability, a key area in the major field of tort law. In 1988, Kennedy became special counsel to LA Gov. Buddy Roemer, and in 1991 Roemer appointed Kennedy secretary to his cabinet. Kennedy served in both posts until 1992. Gov. Roemer had Kennedy help him pass two major priorities, tort and campaign finance reform (Bridges, NOLA.com,8/10/23). In 1991, Kennedy unsuccessfully ran for LA Attorney General (newspapers.com, 10/21/91).


Kennedy returned to private law practice. In 1996, Gov. Mike Foster appointed him to the cabinet position of secretary of the state Department of Revenue. Kennedy stayed in this post until 1999 (rev.louisiana.gov, 5/03/99). In 1999, Kennedy was elected LA State Treasurer. He was re-elected to his post without opposition in 2003, 2007, and 2011. In 2015, Kennedy defeated his challenger with 80% of the vote (Sentell, theadvocate.com, 1/13/21). He helped streamline bureaucracy and refinance LA’s debt from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (legis.la.gov, wdsu.com).


In 2004, then Democrat Kennedy endorsed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry over “W” Bush. However, after being courted by the GOP for months, Kennedy told his constituents that he would leave the Democrats and join the GOP on 8/27/2007 (Moller, web.archive.org, nola.com). Kennedy was one of many Southern Democrats who defected to the GOP making “Team Red” the majority party in that region. As treasurer, Kennedy pushed for cutting state jobs, rather than raising taxes (See nola.com, Barrow).


Kennedy unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate twice. In 2004, he first ran as a Democrat and lost to GOPer David Vitter (staticresults.sos.la.gov). In 2008, he tried again, this time as a GOPer. While John McCain won LA, Kennedy lost to incumbent Sen. Democrat Mary Landrieu (nytimes.com, Huetteman, 2/17/17). The third time, in 2016, was Kennedy’s Senatorial “charm.” When GOP Senator Vitter retired, Kennedy received the endorsements of Trump, Pence, the NRA Political Victory Fund, and the National Right to Life Committee, among others. Kennedy, whom Trump personally campaigned for, beat his Democratic opponent 61%-39% (voterportal. Sos.la.gov, 9/21/20). Running for re-election in 2022, Kennedy pulverized his Democratic opponent by 43.7 percentage points (politico.com, 2022 -election results).


Senator Kennedy is a strong-right wing GOPer. The Heritage Action for America, a conservative group, gave him a lifetime score of 83% and the American Conservative Union’s Center for Legislative Accountability gave him a similar 83.74% lifetime rating. Labor’s AFL-CIO gave him a near basement rating of 8% (ratings.conservative.org, justfacts.votesmart.org, 11/23/21). According to the Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac, Sen. Kennedy has a Composite 4% Liberal Rating v. 96% Conservative one. Top notch lawyer and Senate Judiciary Committee member Kennedy voted against Biden’s superb pick of African American Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court. However, according to Kennedy,Trump’s selections of reactionary Judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett were just fine for the SCOTUS (Supreme Ct. of the United States) bench (theadvertiser.com, Hillburn, 4/04/22, foxnews.com, Halon). Kennedy promised to “get rid of Obamacare” to help his people. His “people,” who have a terrible life expectancy, should be screaming against Kennedy’s anti-Obamacare views, but his “hick”/ “I’m for y’all act” has fooled far too many of them (wrkf.org). Kennedy opposed Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan (wgno.com, Valezquez). Kennedy supported Trump’s building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border (shreveporttimes.com, 1/09/19). Kennedy is “strongly” opposed to abortion. He supported the Supreme Ct. overturning Roe v. Wade, because it allows the abortion issue to go back to the American people and let the states correct “a legal and moral error (twitter.com, Kennedy).” Kennedy, of course, was endorsed by the NRA Political Victory Fund in both of his Senatorial elections, and received “A” and “A+” ratings from this key anti-gun control group. In Kennedy’s words, “I believe love is the answer. I do. But I also own a gun just in case (votesmart.org, foxnews.com).” You get the idea. “Super-educated” Senator Kennedy takes super-reactionary stands and disguises them with his “I’m just a poor little ‘hick’ fighting elitist liberals like the rest of you” talk.


In LA, Sen. Kennedy can keep getting re-elected with his “hick” act as long as he wants. However, like his fellow extremist GOP Senators, he must remain a back bencher where he can just harmlessly mouth off. The only way to do that? In 2024, Democrats must vote in droves to defend our “Team Blue” Senators up for re-election and add more members to our side. Staying home is not an option and only helps the anti-democracy forces in our country.


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