Angelle still feeling out statewide races

LA Politics notebook by Jeremy Alford and John Maginnis

Special to the Herald-Guide
March 21, 2014 at 9:49 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Friends of Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle say the Breaux Bridge Republican is continuing to consider a potential run for governor, with an eye to lieutenant governor as a possible back-up plan. He currently represents both Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes on the PSC.

“He wants to be able to make a good showing. He said if he ends up running at 4 percent, he’ll wonder why he didn’t wait,” said a source. “Right now Scott is focused on visiting people and selling himself for the job. He wants to make sure checks can be written and he’ll have the resources he needs to get up on television and stay on the airwaves.”

With the Acadiana region once again shaping up as a likely swing vote in the race for governor, some supporters are telling Angelle that the numbers could shake out in such a way to land him a runoff spot. But speculation is cheap this early in the game, with voters not going to the polls until October 2015.

If Angelle, 52, does decide to run, he may be taken to task for campaign promises to finish out his term on the PSC. But boosters contend that could be overcome by Angelle’s public speaking skills and quick wit-characteristics that usually come to define Louisiana’s most iconic Cajun politicians.

In that vein, Angelle could be hoping to build off of the regional models built by politicians like Kathleen Blanco, John Breaux, Edwin Edwards and others who managed to perform well statewide, in addition to their bases in Acadiana.

Angelle wouldn’t directly comment on his decision-making process, but said he is being emboldened by supporters to show up on the 2015 ballot.

“The most encouraging thing is the that the support is not limited to the Cajun Nation, but is statewide,” Angelle told LaPolitics. “I think there is still enough time for a passionate candidate that is Louisiana through and through.”

In his latest campaign finance report covering calendar year 2013, Angelle shows $155,000 raised and $175,000 on hand.

While that’s an OK showing for the PSC, it pales in comparison to what will be needed in the multi-million dollar race for governor.

Elected in 2012 to the PSC, Angelle still manage to spend $22,650 on consultants in 2013, an off-year, including payments to Arsement Media, the Bautsch Group and Roy Fletcher.

Strain could have role in weed debate

In the coming debate over medical marijuana, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain could find himself in a pivotal role.

That’s according to Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, who is sponsoring SB 541 to further define how medical marijuana can be obtained by certain patients after it’s prescribed by a doctor.

Mills, a pharmacist, said Strain’s department will be needed to make sure marijuana plants have the right kind of potency and are checked for quality control. The legislation brings Strain into the picture as a member of the Therapeutic Marijuana Utilization Review Board that would be created. But there’s also more of a direct oversight role.

“I’ve spoken to my counterparts in other states about what’s going on. We’ll have to make sure it’s grown under the proper conditions and it’s not sprayed with pesticides,” Strain said. “The people who might be using this already have pre-existing conditions.”

The bill would allow for six growing facilities, one for each congressional district. Producers would also have to come up with $2 million in escrow.

“You would have to have a pretty good production facility that would be tightly controlled,” Strain said.

While the commissioner couldn’t provide any numbers for how much of a cash crop it might become, he said it would initially be a “small to medium sized production where the volume wouldn’t be that great.”

Chairman urges caution on supplemental pay

There are a number of proposals filed for the regular session to increase state supplemental pay for firefighters and police officers. It’s a boost lawmakers haven’t implemented since the early 2000s, so the reaction from these communities could send hundreds in full uniform to lobby the Legislature, which would in turn put lawmakers in a tight spot.

Saying no to a bureaucrat is one thing. Denying your neighborhood police officer is another.

“The Legislature is going to have be careful about getting on a spending binge,” said Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro. “The normal stream of revenue is not supporting what we have in the budget right now. What we’re doing is spending based on amnesty money that’s going to go away. We’re spending on the pharmaceutical settlements, which is money that will go away the next year. If you look at the (Revenue Estimating Conference), there’s not a lot of growth expected.”

As for whether the issue could balloon, sending hordes of uniforms to the Capitol to pressure lawmakers, like in previous years, Fannin said it’s a possibility. Especially with a proposed constitutional amendment to add municipal EMS workers to the list of those who can receive state supplemental pay.

“It might be like that. But there’s always people coming up the steps,” he said. “We need to remember that if we increase supplemental pay, the increase is going to be there every year.”

For a breakdown of all the various supplemental pay bills that have been introduced, visit

They Said It

“I’ve never seen an issue create such an upheaval and no one knows what it is.”

-Pollster Bernie Pinsonat on questions surrounding Common Core†

“We’ll have a lot of recovering to do and it wont be from Hurricane Katrina. It’ll be from Hurricane Jindal.”

-Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party †

“Everybody likes to follow the money.”

-Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue

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