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John Neely Kennedy (born November 21, 1951) is the Republican state treasurer of Louisianamarker. Until switching parties in 2007, Kennedy was a member of the Democratic Party. Kennedy ran for the United States Senate against Democrat Mary Landrieu in the 2008 election and lost.

Early life and career

Kennedy was born in Centreville, Mississippimarker, and grew up in Zacharymarker in East Baton Rouge Parish. In the summer of 1969, Kennedy represented Louisiana at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C.marker

He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Vanderbilt Universitymarker in Nashville, Tennesseemarker, in 1973, a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Lawmarker at Charlottesvillemarker in 1977, and an advanced law degree (B.C.L.) from the University of Oxfordmarker in 1979. While a student at Vanderbilt, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and senior class president. Prior to entering state government service, he was a partner in the law firm of Chafee, McCall, Phillips, Toler, and Sarpy, working in the Baton Rougemarker and New Orleansmarker offices of the firm.

Political career

In 1988, Kennedy became special counsel to Louisiana Governor Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III. Two years later, he was appointed cabinet secretary and served in that post until 1992. In 1991, he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for state Attorney General. The winner of the race was Democrat Richard Ieyoub of Lake Charlesmarker. Following his first stint in state government, Kennedy returned to the private practice of law until 1996. That same year, he was appointed Secretary of the state Department of Revenue in the cabinet of Republican Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr. Kennedy left the position when he was elected state Treasurer in 1999, when he unseated the incumbent Democrat Kenneth "Ken" Duncan, 621,796 (55.6 percent) to 497,319 (44.4 percent). Kennedy was reelected without opposition in 2003.

In 2004, he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. He ran a distant third in Louisiana's unique jungle primary, losing to the outright winner, Republican U.S. Representative David Vitter who polled more votes than Kennedy (15 percent), State Senator Arthur Morrell (3 percent), and Democratic Congressman Christopher John (29 percent) combined to win in the primary for the seat without a formal general election, popularly called the runoff in Louisiana.

After being courted by the Republican party for months, Kennedy announced in a letter to his constituents that he was leaving the Democratic Party and joining the Republicans as of August 27, 2007. In his letter, he announced that he would run again for state Treasurer.

Personal life

In addition to his duties as state treasurer, Kennedy is an adjunct law professor at Louisiana State Universitymarker in Baton Rouge and a volunteer substitute teacher in the East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. He is married to the former Rebecca Ann Stulb, an attorney who also worked in the Chafee, McCall law firm. The couple lives with their son, Preston Kennedy, in Madisonvillemarker, a town in St. Tammany Parishmarker. He is Methodist. He is unrelated to the Kennedy family of Massachusettsmarker.

Kennedy's brother is veteran political consultant George C. Kennedy.

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