John Wyeth "Jock" Scott, II (born June 29, 1947), is a lawyer and college professor in Alexandria, who served three terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives, first as a Democrat (1976–1985) and then as a Republican (1985–1988). He was defeated in a race for the Louisiana State Senate in 1987. He has also lost two bids for the United States House of Representatives: a 1985 special election, when he ran as a Democrat, and in the 2004 nonpartisan blanket primary for the Fifth Congressional District, when he challenged fellow Republican U.S. Representative Rodney Alexander of Quitman in Jackson Parish.
Scott was born in Alexandria to Nauman Steele Scott, II, (1916–2001) and Blanche Hammond Scott (1920–1985). He graduated from Bolton High School in Alexandria in 1965. One of his Bolton classmates was another future Louisiana state legislator, Charles W. DeWitt, Jr., (District 25). The two were House colleagues from 1980-1988.
Scott received his bachelor of arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1969. He obtained his law degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was in law school at the time that U.S. President Richard M. Nixon named Scott's Republican father to a new Alexandria-based U.S. District judgeship.
Scott has been married since 1970 to the former Cynthia "Cyndy" Henderson (born 1948). They are the parents of three grown children, Natalie, John Wyeth Scott, III, and Elizabeth. As of 2007, there were two grandsons in the Scott family as well (Wyeth Scott, 2, and William Seeling, newborn).
In 1975, in the first-ever Louisiana nonpartisan blanket primary, Scott was elected to the District 27 state House seat, which primarily covers the city of Alexandria and some surrounding points. He succeeded fellow Democrat Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr., who gave up the position after a single term to contest a Louisiana Senate seat in the same election cycle. Scott defeated Lloyd George Teekell (March 12, 1922 - October 9, 1996), who had served in the state House from 1953–1960. Scott polled 3,908 votes (54.7 percent) to Teekell's 3,233 ballots (45.3 percent). Randolph, meanwhile, unseated four-term Democratic State Senator Cecil R. Blair (1916–2001) of Lecompte, in south Rapides Parish.
Randolph was born in 1942, and like Scott, he is a Bolton High school graduate and an attorney. Randolph and Scott quickly acquired reputations as "reformers" or "Young Turks" in the Louisiana legislature. They often disagreed with legislative leaders who wanted more spending than the state's receipts would permit. In 1976, Randolph and Scott headed the Greater Alexandria campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter of Georgia, who won majorities in Rapides Parish (54 percent) and statewide (53 percent) as well.
Though a Carter supporter, Scott broke with the presidential candidate over the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. He cast a key vote in 1976 in the House Civil Law Committee against the ERA. He had been expected to vote to send ERA to the full House but reversed himself. His reason was concern that women would be subject to future military drafts.
Scott authored new House rules to require all new bills to be printed and distributed to House members before referral to committees and to mandate a fiscal note on all legislation having fiscal impact before such legislation could be considered by the House. Scott authored legislation that was eventually enacted to require a priority system for funding capital outlay projects, a system that included the requirement that all such projects undergo needs assessment evaluations. This challenged the traditional control by the governor of the capital outlay budget, a tradition by which the governor could bargain for legislative votes by rewarding cooperative legislators with projects. The battle for reform included a 1978 victory by Scott and his colleagues when they succeeded in defeating the Edwards' capital outlay bill in the House, the first and only time such a defeat was inflicted on a governor.
Thereafter Scott and Edwards squared off repeatedly over political/wasteful spending issues in capital outlay, in the state budget (appropriations bill), tax issues, and other fiscal matters. Scott's surprise tactic after the 1978 controversy was to introduce his own capital outlay and appropriations (state budget) bills, normally the exclusive domain of the governor and his floor leaders. Scott's purpose, he declared at the time, was to demonstrate the millions of dollars that would be saved if merit prevailed over politics in the budget process.
Scott was reelected to his legislative seat as a Democrat. He polled 7,419 votes (76.9 percent) in the primary held on October 27, 1979. His intraparty opponent, former Alexandria Finance and Utilities Commissioner Arnold Jack Rosenthal (born 1923), received 2,229 votes (23.1 percent). Rosenthal had been an unsuccessful candidate for state senator in the 1971 Democratic primary and for mayor of Alexandria in the 1977 nonpartisan blanket primary. Though a Democrat, Rosenthal had endorsed President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., in the 1976 election in which Scott was organizing voters for Carter.
Scott became chairman of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee during his second term(1980–1984). He had helped his colleague John Hainkel of New Orleans become Speaker of the House. Hainkel had the support of incoming Republican Governor David C. Treen. Scott served on Hainkel's House Executive Committee and would also direct the procedure for state House and congressional reapportionment. Meanwhile, in an uprising of fiscal conservatives, Scott won a surprise victory over the Gillis William Long and Edwin Edwards forces in the Democratic State Central Committee in 1980 by being elected Democratic National Committeeman.
On October 23, 1983, Scott was elected to his last term in the legislature. Still a Democrat at the time, he defeated two intraparty opponents in the nonpartisan blanket primary. Scott polled 6,458 of the 11,076 votes cast in the race, or 58.3 percent. A black candidate, the Reverend Errol Dorsey, drew 1,780 votes (16.1 percent), and the attorney Christopher J. Roy, a law partner of the legendary Alexandrian Camille F. Gravel, Jr., and father of future Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy, polled 2,838 votes (25.6 percent).
In 1980, Judge Nauman Scott ordered cross-parish busing, school consolidations, some school closures, and the reassignment of principals to increase the amount of desegregation in Rapides Parish schools, contrary to the wishes of many citizens in the outlying Wards 10 and 11, including the area served by Buckeye High School. Despite the unpopularity of Judge Scott's orders among the more conservative voters, Jock Scott, as a Democrat, won a third term in the legislature even as Edwin Washington Edwards won a comeback third term as governor by unseating Treen. Randolph, however, was defeated for a third term in the state senate. Three years later, Randolph resurrected his political career by winning the first of five terms as mayor of Alexandria. He retired from the mayoral position on December 4, 2006.
Early in 1985, while he was still a Democrat, Jock Scott ran in the special election to choose a successor to Congressman Gillis Long (1923–1985), who died at the time of President Ronald W. Reagan's second inauguration. Scott faced Clyde C. Holloway, a conservative Republican, who had strongly opposed Judge Scott's desegregation orders five years earlier. Holloway fared poorly in that race, his second bid for Congress. Scott ran second to Long's popular widow, Mary Catherine Small Long. A native of Dayton, Ohio, "Cathy" Long did not seek a full term in 1986. Scott, by then a Republican, was personally asked in the White House by President Reagan to seek the office. For undisclosed reasons, Scott declined to run. Holloway went on to take the seat for the first of three consecutive terms.
Scott's third term in the Louisiana House featured more battles over fiscal and tax policy against Governor Edwards. He had authored two successful tax reduction measures under the Treen administration, including inflation indexing of income taxes and a measure that reduced such taxes by one-third across the board.
The "reformer" Scott, who became a Republican in the latter half of 1985, ran in 1987 for the District 29 state senate seat previously held by his colleague Randolph. It was Edward J. Steimel, president of the trade association called the "Louisiana Association of Business and Industry" or LABI, who urged Scott to make the race. Scott, like Randolph four years earlier, was defeated by the Democrat William Joseph "Joe" McPherson, Jr., a businessman from Pineville. McPherson is currently in his fifth nonconsecutive term in the Louisiana Senate. McPherson, who enjoyed the backing of Louisiana AFL-CIO President Victor Bussie, polled 16,950 (51 percent) in the primary and hence retained the seat outright. Scott trailed with 12,346 votes (37 percent). Former state senator Cecil Blair sought a comeback but netted only 4,245 votes (13 percent). Scott attributed his defeat to both McPherson's tough electioneering and the unpopularity of Judge Scott's desegregation orders in rural sections of Rapides Parish. Scott's state House seat also reverted to Democratic hands: it was won by Charles Herring.
In Scott's own words: "I had decided to sit out the 1987 elections after my struggles with Edwards during those difficult legislative years. . . I needed a break. Then [Edward] Steimel talked me into the state senate race against McPherson. Very harsh race and very difficult for me in the country precincts with the unpopularity of desegregation/busing orders by my father. . . plus Joe is a very tough candidate. He is still our state senator today. I had become a Republican. So that was the end for me."
While McPherson has defeated both Randolph and Scott, the one Republican who has defeated McPherson is Holloway, who beat him in the 1990 congressional primary. And that 1990 election remains the last that Holloway has won.
Scott's older brother Nauman Steele Scott, III, (born 1945) died on January 8, 2002, four months after the death of their father. Nauman, III, was a lawyer in New Orleans and co-owner with the third Scott brother, Arthur Hammond Scott (born 1950), of Black Top Records, which has preserved much of the rhythm and blues music culture.
After his legislative service ended, Scott, who has great interest in United States and Louisiana history, obtained both his Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees from LSU in Baton Rouge in the field of history. He maintains a part-time law practice in Alexandria and is also an assistant professor of history at the newly-four-year institution, Louisiana State University at Alexandria. He teaches both U.S. and Louisiana history. He has also taught part-time at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. He wrote a political novel in 1986 entitled To the Victor. He has also written scholarly history articles.
In the spring of 2001, Scott served as chairman of "Friends of LSUA," which worked successfully to make the institution a four-year degree-granting university. Chancellor Robert Cavanaugh saluted Scott in the school's 2003 commencement exercises: "Jock worked many, many long hours and used his legislative experience to usher Senate Bill 853 [which created four-year status for LSUA] through the legislature."
In 2004, seventeen years after his last campaign, Scott announced that he would launch a Republican challenge to incumbent Democratic Congressman Rodney Alexander. Alexander had been a narrow winner -- 974 votes out of 172,462 votes cast -- in 2002 over the young businessman Dewey Lee Fletcher of Monroe. National Republican leaders at first agreed to support Scott.
Then, minutes before the filing deadline, and after he had already filed for reelection as a Democrat, Alexander switched parties. His action left the Democrats without a credible candidate in the race and undercut Scott's chances as well. Alexander in particular angered the state's two powerful Democratic U.S. senators, John Breaux (who had announced his retirement) and Mary Landrieu (reelected to a second term in 2002), because they had worked for Alexander in his race against Fletcher. Many Louisiana Democrats called Alexander "cowardly" for his last-minute party switch.
Scott remained in the race as an unendorsed Republican, but GOP leaders, including then Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, coalesced quickly behind Alexander. The Republican National Campaign Committee demanded that Scott leave the race. Party leaders even denied him the right to speak at campaign events. He could not raise enough funds to counter Alexander's advantage of incumbency.
Scott said that the national GOP leadership had "gone to elected officials who had endorsed me and gotten them to change their minds." Still, Scott said he was not unhappy with his party but could not appreciate the way they handled his race. "Sometimes even good organizations make faux pas. They're using their time, their talent, their money in a way that could be better used in a district where Republicans and Democrats are opposing each other. . . . "I would assume that they have bigger fish to fry than little 'ol Jock Scott," he said.
Scott proposed that the north-south Interstate 49, which links Shreveport with Lafayette through Alexandria be completed, as originally planned, so that there would be a northeastern link as well from Monroe to Alexandria -- now U.S. Highway 165. He vowed if elected to work for such highway funding.
Scott's hometown newspaper, the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, which in the 1960s and 1970s, under then managing editor Adras LaBorde (1912–1993) had pointedly refused to endorse candidates, editorially supported Scott's congressional bid. According to the Town Talk, Scott "offers relevant experience, deep knowledge of the issues and high energy. The Fifth Congressional District needs all of that. The district needs a representative who can leverage the significant economic development happening in and around Alexandria and Pineville while providing new thinking to help jump-start its lagging areas.
"Scott's ambitious proposal to build an interstate highway from Alexandria to Monroe is new thinking, for sure. Although the proposal is not practical at this time, it is aimed directly at one of the district's biggest problems: highways. It also shows an appetite for innovation, and that can help a district that is hungry to grow.
"Likewise, his desire to add his voice to national issues is refreshing. He strongly supports President George W. Bush's aggressive stance against terrorism, but laments that the war in Iraq has become so political. "Scott . . . understands the complex challenges facing the district and the nation. That will serve him well as a member of Congress."
Republican Scott ran third in the race with 37,971 votes (16 percent). His only real showing was in Rapides Parish, where he polled 14,379 votes. A black Democratic woman, Zelma "Tisa" Blakes, finished second with 58,591 votes (25 percent). Alexander polled 141,495 (59 percent). Alexander was presumably aided by both incumbency and the presence of President Bush at the head of the Republican ticket.
Scott is a member of the Louisiana and American bar associations, the American, Southern, and Louisiana historical associations, the Rapides Arts and Humanities Council, and the Alexandria Rotary Club. He is Roman Catholic.
In 1987, Scott was named "National Legislator of the Year" by the National Republican Legislators Association.
LSUA honored him in 2003 with the "LSUA Distinguished Service Award," the highest honor the university bestows on members of the central Louisiana community. Scott was the eighth recipient of the honor, which recognizes an active participation in efforts to promote the advancement and support of LSUA; recognition as a leader throughout the community, with an interest in the quality of education provided by LSUA; an exemplary record of service to higher education and to the community at large; and contributions of time, talents and/or financial resources to benefit the university.
In 2006–2007, Scott was chosen and presently serves as state president of the Louisiana Bar Foundation after previously having served as treasurer and vice-president of the organization.
After twenty years, the District 27 seat returned to Republican control in the October 20, 2007, nonpartisan blanket primary. Republican Chris Hazel handily unseated incumbent Democrat Rick L. Farrar of Pineville. Hazel polled 9,330 votes (62 percent) to Farrar's 5,611 ballots (38 percent).
Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, U.S. House