Election of 2006
Chandler succeeded fellow Democrat Thomas D. "Tommy" Wright of Jena, the seat of La Salle Parish, who had esigned earlier in 2006. Chandler as a Democrat defeated Republican Tony Kevin Owens (born June 22, 1960), who had relocated to Jena from Winnfield. Chandler received 5,034 votes (54 percent) to Owens' 4,234 votes (46 percent).
On April 1, 2006, five Democrats and four Republicans competed in the first round of balloting for Wright's former seat. The Democrats polled a combined 57 percent of the vote to the GOP candidates' 43 percent. The top candidates were Owens, with 1,858 (18 percent) and Chandler, with 1,574 (16 percent). In the runoff, Owens doubled his votes, but Chandler tripled his share of the tabulation.
District 22 was created in 1972, with Democrat Richard S. Thompson of Colfax as its first representative. The district frequently votes Republican in races for U.S. president, governor, or U.S. senator but had always sent a Democrat to the state legislature, with the exception of 1992-1996, when it was represented by the Independent Stephen L. Gunn of Montgomery, also in Grant Parish. Gunn did not seek a second term, and Thomas Wright was elected to succeed him.
Owens had also lost to Wright in the 2003 general election. The seat became vacant when Wright resigned as part of a plea bargain involving a misdemeanor obscenity charge at Lake Buhlow in Pineville.
Chandler's victory was made possible by his strong showing as the favorite son in Grant Parish. Chandler told the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, the largest newspaper in central Louisiana, in a victory statement on election night that he would "represent all parties, wherever they may be, all communities in the district, for one common good, to advance meeting the needs in this district. The constituents have plainly made that they haven't been pleased in the past with ."
Then Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington hailed Chandler's victory. "As a Democrat, Billy Chandler displays the moral values that we all share: helping the less fortunate, providing for our families and caring for our seniors. He will fight hard in Baton Rouge to provide better schools for our children, create good-paying jobs for our working men and women, and secure retirement benefits for our seniors," Whittington said.
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