Governor to steer clear of special elections

By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais

 The first major Louisiana election of 2018 takes place on Saturday and it doesn’t appear as if Gov. John Bel Edwards is going to get involved — even though the contest is taking place in his backyard, literally and figuratively.

There’s a special election in House District 86, with candidates from the Amite-Hammond region on the ballot. It’s in the governor’s home parish of Tangipahoa, and it’s for a seat in the Legislature, where Edwards would certainly prefer to have a few more allies.

But don’t hold your breath for an endorsement.

“The governor has no intentions of doing that,” a spokesperson said.

There’s a vacancy in House District 86 due to the resignation of Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond. Andy Anderson, Hammond attorney Nicky Muscarello, Michael Showers and Tangipahoa Parish Councilman David Vial are all candidates. All are Republicans, save the Democrat Showers.

Another special legislate election is set for March 24 in New Orleans’ House District 93, which Rep. Helena Moreno, a Democrat, will soon vacate to become a city councilwoman. Again, Edwards is expected to remain hands-off.

The entire field is made up of Democrats from the city, include El Anderson, Kenny Bordes, Royce Duplessis and Daniel Faust. Duplessis, in particular, has earned the endorsement of the Alliance for Good Government.

Another Henry in the House?

In 2019 election news, the chief of staff to U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, and the brother of state Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, may seek the seat that Rep. Henry will be vacating at the end of this term.

Should he decide to run and then win, Charles Henry would actually be making a return to the Capitol in Baton Rouge. He has been with Scalise since the whip’s state House days.

Friends say Charles Henry, an attorney, is open to the idea and interested, but he’s 100 percent focused on his job with Team Scalise and has the question on the back burner. For now.

LaPolitics is tracking more than 50 legislative seats ahead of next year’s elections. (

Understanding Scalise’s Fundraising

If you want to see the kind of fundraising boost that comes along with being a member of the congressional leadership, look no further than the various campaign finance reports connected to U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson.

While a review of only the standard candidate committees shows a somewhat robust fundraising operation for Scalise, it’s only a small part of a larger picture.

The joint fundraising committee structure employed by Scalise’s team offers not only an inside look at modern campaigning, but it also serves as a reminder of why the whip’s combined efforts far outpace his Louisiana contemporaries.

His primary fundraising vehicle, the Scalise Leadership Fund, serves as a clearinghouse for everything moving in and out. It feeds Scalise for Congress (the principal campaign committee that was featured in the fundraising breakdown in last week’s report), the Eye of the Tiger Political Action Committee (Scalise’s leadership PAC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (the GOP hub for protecting incumbents and recruiting new conservative members).

The contributions last year to the Scalise Leadership Fund alone topped nearly $4.5 million. When coupled with other contributions deposited directly into the other accounts that are part of the joint fundraising committee, the total haul for Scalise in 2017 comes to more than $5 million.

Political History: Dutch and the no-roll Mardi Gras

Throughout history, only cataclysmic events such as invading Yankees, Yellow Fever, and World Wars have able to call off the annual revelry of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. But in 1979, a political firestorm canceled the Crescent City’s celebration of Fat Tuesday.

Less than one year in office, Mayor Dutch Morial was facing daunting fiscal problems. Struggling to make the massive municipal payroll, Morial and the City Council decided to reform the salary structure for city workers. Their plan called for a 5-percent pay raise, but with a reduction in benefits and an increase in the number of hours in the workweek.

Seeing Morial’s plan as unfair, city employees were outraged and began talking of a work stoppage. Union organizers for the police department planned their action for the Carnival season, knowing that the pressing need for extra officers with the influx of tourists and crowds would give them leverage in negotiations.

However, the talks reached an impasse when the city refused to reinstate benefits.

On Feb. 8, 1979, with two weeks to Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Police Department went on strike. Morial initially threatened to fire any officer who did now report to work, while then-Gov. Edwin Edwards called out the National Guard and State Police to patrol the city.

With their backs against the wall, Morial and the City Council tentatively agreed to some of the demands and the officers returned to work. Teamsters Union officials flew down to assist the police with the negotiations, but the talks got bogged down again.

On Feb. 16, the NOPD went on strike for the second time. Gov. Edwards recalled the State Police and National Guard to the city, but warned officials that they were ill-equipped to handle the crowds and parades of Mardi Gras. In response, Morial cancelled the first week of festivities.

Supporting Morial, the remaining Krewes announced that they would be suspending activities or relocating to suburban Jefferson, St. Tammany and St. Bernard Parishes. Locals were outraged, but the majority blamed the police and the Teamsters Union.

The streets of New Orleans were empty on Mardi Gras Day 1979. The strike ended days later, with the police winning only nominal concessions from the city.


They Said It

 I have no confidence in anything right now.”

—State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, on the upcoming special session, in The Times-Picayune

 “You can’t fake the numbers.”

—State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, on the governor’s proposed budget, on KEEL radio



About Jeremy Alford 227 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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