Former state Sen. Edgar “Sonny” Mouton Jr., a popular politician and attorney who represented Lafayette in the Legislature for 16 years and made an unsuccessful bid for governor, died early Thursday.

Mouton, 86, also served as legal counsel to former Gov. Dave Treen and briefly as an adviser to Edwin Edwards at the beginning of the former governor’s third term in 1985.

“Edgar was a true, dedicated public servant who was probably the foremost Senate member of his time,” said Billy Broadhurst, who has been deeply involved in state politics for decades and was a longtime friend of Mouton. “If you needed something done in the Legislature, and Sonny would support and accept what you needed done, you could be assured of its success. He was a true gentleman and a loyal friend.”

Mouton first came to the Legislature in 1964, serving two years in the House before his election to the Senate.

He ran for governor in 1979.

Treen won the election but brought Mouton into his administration as executive counsel.

“There is no doubt he was truly a public servant in every sense of the word. He was a people person. He cared about every person, whatever their plight was,” said longtime Louisiana lobbyist Randy Haynie, who got his start in politics working with Mouton as a Senate staffer and then on Mouton’s 1979 gubernatorial campaign. “He is the one individual in my 36 years (in politics) that I’ve worked with who could relate to the brightest person in the room and the most common person in the room.”

Haynie said he spent countless hours with Mouton on the campaign trail and recalled a man of great intellect and of great religious conviction.

“No matter where we were in the state of Louisiana campaigning, in whatever town we were in, whatever community, one of my jobs was to find out where the nearest Catholic church was,” Haynie said.

Mouton also was known as a bit of a character, and he once floated a legislative proposal to name one of his colleagues the official “state fossil.”

“They don’t make folks like him anymore. He was as colorful and as intellectual a person that I’ve ever met,” said Lafayette City-Parish Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, a former legislator who recalled going to visit with Mouton in 2003 when preparing his first run for state office.

“His personality wasn’t that he wanted to be a kingmaker,” Robideaux said. “He just wanted to help anybody who wanted to run for office.”

Delhomme Funeral Home, of Lafayette, is handling the arrangements, which were pending as of press time Thursday.