Jay Dardenne was born on February 6, 1954 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to the late John Dardenne, Sr., and Janet Abramson Dardenne. He graduated from Baton Rouge High School in 1972, Louisiana State University in 1976, and the LSU Law School in 1979. Jay has been married to Cathy McDonald Dardenne for more than 30 years. They have two adult children, John and Matthew.
Jay believes in leading by example. He has been the chairman or president of ten non-profit entities in the Baton Rouge area and has hosted the Jerry Lewis Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for more than 30 years.
As a Reagan Republican, Jay has demonstrated that by streamlining government and cutting red tape, we can create real prosperity for Louisiana’s citizens. Jay has been a tireless promoter of Louisiana’s unique culture and fascinating history. His presentation “Why Louisiana Ain’t Mississippi” has entertained and educated audiences across the state. He has delivered more than 500 speeches in almost every parish of the state on Louisiana history, politics, music and movies.
A born leader with a humble demeanor, Jay Dardenne felt an unmistakable calling to serve the state he loves. At the age of 34, he was elected to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council. His accomplishments on the Metro Council included authoring a flood protection ordinance in 1989 which has stood the test of time and prevented any new house constructed since its enactment from sustaining flood damage resulting from a storm or hurricane.
After three years on the Metro Council, Jay was elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 1991, representing south Baton Rouge in District 16. Jay quickly made a name for himself as a conservative reformer, fighting Gov. Edwin Edwards’ $500 million tax increase and leading Republican reform efforts despite being the minority party in the senate. In his 15 years in the state senate, Jay’s leadership, vision for Louisiana, and his ability to pass important legislation led him to be named National Republican Legislator of the Year in 2003. According to Louisiana Political Fax Weekly, Jay Dardenne is “widely regarded as one of the most talented lawmakers to ever serve in the Capitol.”
After his 15 years in the senate, Jay and his family knew that he was ready to serve the people of Louisiana at the statewide level. After the death of Fox McKeithan, Jay won a special election for Secretary of State in 2006, serving the remainder of the term. He was elected to a full term in 2007, receiving more votes than any statewide candidate that year. As Secretary of State, Jay protected elections after Katrina, worked with other states to prevent voter fraud and created GeauxVote.com and GeauxBiz.com, making registering a business in Louisiana quick and easy. He also established the Heroes and Heritage Trail, showcasing the many museums under the Secretary of State.
After serving four years as Secretary of State, Jay was elected Lieutenant Governor in a special election in 2010. He was elected to a full term in 2011. Jay has led Louisiana’s tourism industry to unprecedented levels of growth. In 2012, 26.3 million people visited Louisiana, spending a record $10.7 billion, resulting in $665 million in tax revenue to Louisiana That’s money for Louisiana, not paid by Louisiana taxpayers. One out of every 10 jobs in Louisiana is in the hospitality industry. Jay believes every place has a story to tell, but ours just happens to be better. He is honored to share with the world the fascinating story of Louisiana’s rich history and cultural diversity.