10 Things You Didn't Know About Charlie Melancon

The Louisiana Democrat is challenging David Vitter for his Senate seat.

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1. Charlie Melancon (mah-LAW-sohn) was born October 3, 1947, in Napoleonville, Louisiana, a town with a population under 700. His father Charles managed a sugar mill, and mother Nicee "Brownie" was an active volunteer in their small community.

2. He earned a B.S. in agribusiness from University of Southwestern Louisiana-Lafayette in 1971.

3. After graduating, Melancon was executive director of South Central Planning and Development Commission, an economic development group.

4. On August 19, 1972, he married Alida Blanche Clark, known as Peachy, and they now have two adult children and one grandchild.

5. Melancon became a successful businessman in the 1980s, owning Melancon Insurance Agency and several Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops.

6. He served as a representative in the state legislature from 1987 to 1993.

7. In 1993, Melancon, grandson of a sugar farmer, became president and general manager of the American Sugar Cane League, a nonprofit industry group supporting Louisiana sugar cane growers and processors.

8. In 2004, he was elected to the U.S. House as a Democrat by a runoff-election margin of just 569 votes (out of 114,653) over GOP rival Billy Tauzin III, son of the retiring longtime incumbent, Democrat-turned-Republican Billy Tauzin.

9. Calling himself a "pro-life, pro-gun, fiscal conservative," Melancon is the only Democrat representing Louisiana in the U.S. House.

10. After the BP oil spill in April 2010, Melancon broke into tears while discussing the disaster at a House Energy subcommittee hearing.