Governor being watched closely as exit approaches

LA Politics notebook by Jeremy Alford

Special to the Herald-Guide
August 29, 2014 at 1:06 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.

“Things are in motion. The announcement is coming,” said a senior-level source in the cabinet. “It’s no secret that he’s not around, but some of the people close to him are keeping their plays close to their vest and trying to figure out where they’re going to land. But you do have a few people who are willing to die on the sword for him and will ride it out in hopes they can come along.”

Another source with the state Republican Party said an official announcement is expected after this current election cycle wraps up and Jindal indicated the same during a recent interview on MSNBC, while qualifying he’s still undecided.

“You’re going to start to see some shuffling around of players sooner than later,” the party official said. A longtime lobbyist added, “Cabinet-level people are already starting to make moves and inquire about positions. Not necessarily on the secretary level, because some of them have retirement and other issues, but definitely with the deputies and those in proximity.”

Just last week Jindal announced that Stafford Palmieri has been moved from the position of policy director to assistant chief of staff. Natalie LaBorde has taken Palmieri’s spot, having previously served as senior policy advisor.

This kind of situation is routine toward the end of a governor’s final term, but Jindal’s political schedule is moving it up by a few months.

As for the 2015 regular session, lawmakers say there’s a real appetite growing for cutting tax exemptions in order to create revenue, despite Jindal’s long-held stance that such policy maneuvers equate to tax increases.

“None of us want to run for re-election next year on cutting higher ed and health care to the bone,” said a lawmaker. “A lot of things will be on the table in 2015: the e-fairness tax, the film tax credits, the cigarette tax. We’ll see if they actually move. The game of chicken I see playing out is Jindal preserving his anti-tax pledge and the Legislature overriding him.”

Even though sources contend Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield has been encouraging the governor to find a peaceful middle ground, Jindal can probably avoid an override, which is probably unlikely anyhow, by simply stalling the bills he opposes during the short two-month session.

Jindal may still have sway over three very important pressure points in the process, according to lobbyists, that include House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles; Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego; and Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Chairman Neil Riser, R-Columbia.

Regardless, Jindal will have skin in the game since he will have to propose a 2015-2016 budget that could have a hole as large as $1.2 billion or more, based on the short-term financing used in the current budget and predictions released recently to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

The further reddening of Louisiana

The Louisiana Family Forum has released its latest scorecard on the 2014 votes taken by state legislators.

While it shows how legislators match up with the faith-based group’s policy priorities, the scorecard also offers a glimpse of just how conservative the Legislature has become over the past 10 years.

“When we started this in 2004 there were about 26 lawmakers in the House and Senate who voted pro-life and pro-family, in general,” LFF president Gene Mills told LaPolitics. “This year the number is about 83 or 84.”

The real milestone belongs to Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, who, for the 10th consecutive year, has scored 100 percent on the scorecard.

One issue not included in the rankings was the surrogacy births bill.

“We left that off because there may have been some confusion on what our position was,” Mills said.

At its September reception, the Family Forum will present a slate of Republicans with Life and Liberty Awards, as well as two Democrats: Reps. Neil Abramson of New Orleans and Katrina Jackson of Monroe.

“That’s not unusual anymore,” said Mills. “There are usually a few stalwarts.”

On the horizon, the Family Forum is working on election guides for the federal races and maybe judicial contests, too. Candidates will not be endorsed, but rather quizzed on important issues. Like the scorecards, the election guides will be distributed to pastors around Louisiana.

New PACs surface in Senate race

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a New Orleans Democrat, and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge are running close together when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to the Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.

In what will be a tight election that’s tracked nationally, however, it’s doubtful money will be an issue for either candidate.

To that end, the most recent fundraising news comes from the side of Landrieu, who has joined with other Democratic women, including senators up for re-election, to form a joint fundraising committee called Blue Senate 2014.

Cassidy, meanwhile, has received a financial from Citizens for Conservative Leadership, a super PAC that’s new to the Louisiana fray.

Its six-figure effort includes a television ad, which mirrors big budget movie trailers, that is running statewide on both broadcast and cable outlets. The digital advertising plan went live a couple weeks ago with the launch of SenateMatch.com, a unique take on dating sites that will be marketed using web spots.

Spokesman Scott Hobbs said, “In the statewide television campaign, we take the dramatic, movie trailer route with an ad that will cut through the back-and-forth clutter, and clearly encapsulate what this one Senate seat could mean to our country.”

Citizens for Conservative Leadership is headed by Josh Robinson, a longtime political consultant and Cassidy’s former chief of staff. Hobbs and Jason Hebert of The Political Firm created the television ad and Harris Media is handling the digital campaign.

They said it

“We have a saying: No permanent friends. No permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.”

—Kenneth L. Campbell, president of the Black Alliance, which is funding a pro-Common Core lawsuit in Louisiana against his former ally Gov. Bobby Jindal, in The New York Times




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