In honor of this week's mid-term elections, I'm remembering Russell Long, a Louisiana powerbroker who became the state's longest-serving senator, spending 39 years in the U.S. Senate. A lifelong Democrat and son of the Kingfish, former Louisiana Governor and U.S. Sen. Huey P. Long, Russell Long was born in Shreveport.
He graduated from LSU and was first elected to the Senate in 1948, three years after serving in World War II. He holds the distinction of being the only person in American history to be preceded in the Senate by both his father and mother, Rose, who served after her husband was assassinated.
As a rising star in his own right, Sen. Russell Long was elected his party's majority whip from 1965 to 1969 and chaired the powerful Senate Finance Committee for 15 years as well. Considered an expert in tax law, he drafted several of the nation's key tax laws.
The Who Dat Nation also owes him a debt of gratitude, because New Orleans might never have gotten an NFL franchise without Long and U.S. Rep. Hale Boggs. The pair used their considerable power to push through legislation merging the National Football League and American Football League — and shielding the league from anti-trust laws. In exchange, the NFL gave New Orleans the Saints expansion franchise in 1966. Long left office in 1986 and was succeeded by John Breaux. Long died in 2003 at the age of 84.