It’s now official: Francis Thompson is the longest serving state legislator in Louisiana history.
Thompson, a state representative from Delhi in northeast Louisiana, has served 49 years, one more than former legislators John Alario of Westwego and the late Sixty Rayburn from Bogalusa.
The Legislature honored Thompson with a ceremony last month, and U.S. Rep. Julia Letlow, who represents northeast Louisiana, hailed him two weeks ago in the House.
“I’m glad I made it that far and still like it,” Thompson said in an interview.
At the ceremony on the state House floor, Thompson’s colleagues presented him with a plaque recognizing his achievement.
“He’s a man who always brought people together,” Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said to House and Senate members. Turning to Thompson, he said, “You may be here long after we’re all gone. I hope they rename it the Francis Thompson State Capitol.”
Legislators did name the Office of the Dean in the Capitol after Thompson and he’ll take over that office next year, assuming he wins re-election.
That seems a sure bet, since he has been re-elected 11 times since first winning election to the House in 1974. He’s now served 37 years and counting in the House and 12 years in the Senate.
After switching parties earlier this year, Thompson is running for re-election as a Republican for the first time.
“I’m the same person I was as a Democrat,” Thompson said. “I espouse the same principles. I continue to vote as I’ve always voted.”
Thompson, 81, is known for working persistently to bring state spending projects to his poor and rural district. To produce the bounty, Thompson flatters everyone he meets and has positioned himself to be close to whoever was governor.