Former Gov. Huey P. Long is in a relationship, and it’s complicated.
Now dead for nearly eight decades, the kingfish nevertheless has a social media presence.
On one Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/huey.long?fref=ts, Long counts current legislators among his nearly 500 friends. His connections can read his educational background, see the address for his burial plot and learn — with no explanation given or really needed — that his relationship status is “complicated.”
He makes political statements, offers book recommendations and shares his fondness for a warm fire at Christmas. Wrinkle-free cotton T-shirts amaze him. Facebook’s suggestion that he send a friend request to former Bush administration aide Scooter Libby disheartens him. And, he remarked in 2008, that he would have been 115, adding “well, if it weren’t for Dr. Carl Weiss, that is.”
Not bad for a governor who died the same year canned beer came on the market and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping ended in a guilty verdict.
The Facebook page, one of at least three dedicated to Louisiana’s storied leader, is the brainchild of political consultant Johnny Adriani. It all started with frustration at creating an email address.
Faced with selecting an email address in 2005, Adriani tried his own surname and discovered it wasn’t available. He had better luck when he tried Huey P. Long’s name.
A year or two later, Adriani decided to expand Long’s digital footprint to a Facebook profile, just for fun.
“To my surprise Huey Long began acquiring friends. Every once and a while someone will write Huey Long a personal message about their connections to Long or their admiration. Usually, I do not reply. I sort of let these messages act as if the user had visited Long’s grave and expressed some personal thoughts,” Adriani said.
With the exception of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, “Long” has embraced social media more than any of Louisiana’s past political leaders.
Gov. Bobby Jindal tweets, blogs and posts on Facebook. However, his predecessor, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, does not actively use her Twitter account. A Facebook profile in her name — featuring an unflattering photograph — seems to exist just so the administrator can use it to play online poker.
“Of course that’s not former Gov. Blanco — she plays real cards with real friends, but not for real money, only peanuts,” said Marie Centanni, Blanco’s spokeswoman.
Former Gov. Mike Foster mastered email and texting after deciding he no longer needed a secretary. He has no interest in Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
“I’m 83 years old and, somehow or other, I just don’t have a need,” Foster said.
Through email and texting, Foster is able to keep in touch with his grandchildren. He convinced his wife, Alice, to learn computer skills so she could keep tabs on the younger generation as well.
“I do have a smart phone. I’m pretty good with a computer and email,” the former governor said.
Former Gov. Edwin Edwards has an official Facebook page, but he spends more time rocking his new son, Eli, than he does on social media.
Edwards’ Facebook page is rarely updated. He does not tweet. The latest skill he acquired had nothing to do with computers. The 86-year-old Gonzales resident learned how to change his newborn son’s diaper.
“He doesn’t like social media so he does neither. Of course I do enough of it for both of us!” joked his wife, Trina, who is in her 30s and fully embraces social media.
Roemer’s social media presence accelerated when he ran for president last year. He is on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. He also has his own website.
On Friday, Long celebrated what would have been his 120th birthday — and his Facebook friends did not let the occasion go by without a mention.
“I am receiving a bunch of messages,” Adriani said.
One of Long’s Facebook connections is Mitzi Mixon Ybarra. They are distant cousins through her uncle, the late Speedy Long.
“I actually Googled Huey to find out how we are related,” she said. “I think it’s pretty cool to be related to him. He did a lot of good for the state. And I’m very proud of my family!”
Adriani said he is surprised Huey still is on Facebook.
“Truthfully, I expected Facebook to purge the account long ago. I check it now and again and accept friend requests as they are made,” he said.