Is race for Senate president starting early?

One of the more substantive issues looming over the next term of the Louisiana Legislature is who will succeed Senate President John Alario to lead the upper chamber.

Alario, R-Westwego, has held the post since 2012 and prior to that was a member of the House since 1972, a span during which he served as speaker twice.

That approaching exit will leave a major void in the Legislature, but much more so in the Senate.

He hasn’t said anything official yet, but Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, is certainly looking like an early candidate running to replace Alario for Senate president.

At least that’s the portrait being painted by the spending in his Bayou Leadership PAC, which is Allain’s leadership committee.

The PAC received a hefty $25,000 contribution in April from Galliano shipbuilder Gary Chouest and the money has been circulating ever since.

Over the past two months Allain’s PAC has given $2,500 to Sen. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, for his recent campaign for the upper chamber; $1,000 to Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, who’s running for the Jefferson Parish Council; and $1,000 to Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, who’s running for state treasurer.

Others said to be favored contenders for the Senate president’s race next term are Sens. Page Cortez of Lafayette, Ronnie Johns of Lake Charles and Rick Ward of Maringouin.Competition for HigginsWhile it might be a while until we start hearing more chatter about 2018’s congressional races, speculation is already stirring in the 3rd Congressional District.

That’s where freshman Congressman Clay Higgins of Port Barre may face some opposition.

Republican attorney Josh Guillory of Lafayette has been raising money since January and has $46,000 in his campaign war chest, according to the FEC.

Guillory describes himself as a “constitutional and family law attorney.”

That tally normally wouldn’t catch a second look, but Higgins himself had just $44,000 in the bank as of June 30, with an additional $10,000 in debts owed by his committee.Not to be outdone in the 3rd, Democrats are making a hard push for Dr. Phillip Conner of Lake Charles, a family medicine and sleep specialist.

He is said to be seriously considering the race, but would only do it with a “first rate campaign team.”

An endorsement for  treasurer The first notable endorsement of the election season has finally arrived.

The Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee has given an official nod to former state Rep. John Schroder’s campaign for state treasurer.

There were 89 members voting and Schroder, a native of Covington, received nearly all of them.

Schroder’s endorsement could be an early sign that he has infiltrated Jefferson Parish politics, which was important in the wake of state Rep. Julie Stokes of Kenner dropping out the race prior to qualifying.

It’s a GOP-heavy parish with a lot big boxes in conservative precincts.

Schroder made the decision at the start of his campaign to have a political director focused only on Jefferson and Orleans parishes.Political History: A state senator with artificial armsIn 1876 the ultra-conservative Redeemer Democrats were only one vote away from having control of the Louisiana Senate. As a means to bringing about that majority, the most radical members of that faction targeted for assassination then-Sen. Marshal Harvey Twitchell, a Republican and former Union Army soldier.Twitchell was a carpetbagger from Vermont who represented Red River Parish in the upper chamber. He was elected largely because of strong support from the black community in his district; Twitchell considered many free men of color his personal friends.

The assassin hired by the Redeemer Democrats went after Twitchell with a rifle and put six rounds into the senator.

His brother was murdered during the attack, but Twitchell managed to play dead so convincingly that the assassin made his exit without firing another shot.

Twitchell’s two arms took on most of the bullets somehow, and both had to be amputated above the elbows. Surprisingly he finished his term with a pair of wooden artificial arms, both of which were fashioned to hold a pen or a fork.Twitchell eventually returned to his home state of Vermont and married his second wife, who was also his childhood sweetheart.

He also went on to be appointed by both President Rutherford B. Hayes and President Grover Cleveland as the American consul to Kingston in Canada, where he died at the age 65. His memoir, “Carpetbagger From Vermont,” was published in 1989.They Said It“If you always win, you probably haven’t addressed the hardest issues.”—Former One Acadiana CEO Jason El Koubi, revealing one of the nuances of public life upon resigning his position, in The Advertiser“I would couch this as a just-in-case resolution.”—Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, to the Bond Commission, explaining the early steps for a possible $500 million short-term loan for the state


About Jeremy Alford 211 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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