Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Energy Committee, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate campaign (1972), U.S. Senate culture
Bennett Johnston was born June 10, 1932, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was graduated from West Point United States Military Academy and served in the Judge Advocate Corps in Germany between 1956 and 1959. He won a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1964 and in the state Senate in 1968. In 1971, he ran for governor of Louisiana but was defeated in the runoff election. When the U.S Senate seat came up for election in 1972, he ran as a Democrat and won, receiving 54% of the vote, and he was continuously reelected to the Senate until retiring in 1997. He sought the role of majority leader in 1989 but lost to Mitchell. In 1997, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame. Since leaving the Senate, he has been a lobbyist in Washington, DC. At the time of this interview, he was serving as a government affairs and public policy advisor for Steptoe & Johnson and for his firm Johnston & Associates.
Interview includes discussion of: coming into the Senate in 1972 and the campaign; the Senate becoming partisan; the Democratic Party in the South; partisanship and changes in the Senate; becoming chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; disappointments with Carter; the surprise of the 1980 election; the race against Mitchell for majority leader and Mitchell’s victory; Mitchell’s leadership and link to the White House; factions within the Democratic Party; the DG-51 Destroyer Maine-versus-Louisiana issue; the ’91 and ’92 energy bills; the BTU tax; reasons for leaving the Senate; and reflections on Mitchell.
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