Candidates of faith may be leaning more toward Louisiana’s ballots

By Jeremy Alford & Sarah Gamard

LaPolitics.com

A rather holy wave may be building for the 2019 election cycle in the form of pastors and faith-based advocates qualifying as candidates, according to Rev. Gene Mills, the executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum.

While Mills’ forecast applies largely to next year’s House and Senate races, along with a few down-ballot-items, there could be at least one statewide contest as well playing host to contenders from the forum’s flock.

“I have a number of friends who are considering running for office, a number of pastors from across the state who are even considering stepping down to step over,” Mills said during the season-closing episode of The LaPolitics Report podcast recently.

State Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, is among the latest to make the leap. Edmonds was formerly a LFF vice president — and Mills believes he could appear on other ballots sooner than later.

“I think Rick is going to get into the race,” he said of the fall special election to replace former Secretary of State Tom Schedler.

Meanwhile, former state Rep. Tony Perkins, who co-founded LFF and is now the president of the Family Research Council, was probably among the first from these far-right ranks to crossover in Baton Rouge.

Mills said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Perkins on a ballot again one day, too, although he clarified that Perkins has no such immediate plans.

Asked about party politics, Mills sought higher ground — much higher.

“I don’t trust the donkey,” Mills said. “I don’t trust the elephant. I’m here to represent the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God.”

Q&A: Former Congressman Billy Tauzin

LaPolitics: We understand that you are currently working on a book about your career in politics. Can you tell us about this and give us a little preview of what we will see in the book?

Former Congressman Billy Tauzin: “A lot of the book will talk about how things got so dysfunctional and how to get back to a functioning Congress, but it will also contain memoirs. I’ve been writing for Facebook on a lot of subjects, covering 35 years of public office, from the days I served in the Legislature as a floor leader for Edwin Edwards to the days I served in Congress, as a member of the leadership of both parties for 25 years. So there is a lot of great stories about a lot of events and a lot of things that happened — many of them humorous, many of them sort of inside stores of some important national events.”

LaPolitics: We’re a couple of months away from the congressional midterm elections, what are your expectations?

Tauzin: “Well, it’s very difficult to predict at this early stage in the game. The one thing I have learned is that in the last several weeks, prior to November elections in the midterm, is that waves develop. It’s either going to be a blue wave or a red wave. I don’t think there is going to be too much in-between. Somebody really is going to be surprised. The polls are now showing a very closely contested national race. History tells us that in the midterms, the party in power generally loses seats. But the polls are now showing, in the generic ballot at least, that it is a close contest. Anybody that makes a prediction today is either Nostradamus or a fool.”

LaPolitics: A big story in the news recently was President Donald Trump’s trip to Singapore to meet with the North Koreans. You’re a former member of Congress who was there during the 80s and 90s with the Soviets and it was a new era of foreign policy. What do you make of all of this?

Tauzin: “Well, I visited the Berlin Wall after Ronald Reagan encouraged Gorbachev to take the wall down. I’ve been on the Great Wall of China. It’s a part of my history. The one thing I do know is that these are major historical events when they happen. This is one. Anybody who is tuned in to gossipy stories this week instead of paying attention to what is happening in Singapore is making a big mistake. This is historic. It will be incredibly dramatic. If it leads to a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and an end to the war that never ended, that would be a situation where the whole world would be better off. It could be a prelude if we eventually have the same opportunities with Iran. So this is about world peace, this is about whether we have nuclear war or not. This is serious stuff.”

LaPolitics: You ran for governor in 1987. We’re a little over a year out from the next governor’s election. What’s essential to building a campaign early and do any contenders stand out to you?

Tauzin: “It’s a little early. But if you want to watch somebody, watch Steve Scalise as a potential contender. Obviously, the governor is going to run for re-election and he still has very high public approval ratings, so he will not be an easy target for an opponent. But if you thought of who would be an amazingly strong opponent right now, that would be Steve Scalise. He’s got his eyes set on being Speaker or at least being close the Speaker in the House, assuming that the Republicans maintain the majority. If they do not maintain control, then you have to watch. Maybe Steve Scalise wants to come home. We’ll have to wait and see.”

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