In recent internal House elections, at least, the job of speaker has been filled by a few unlikely contenders, or rather the guy no one saw coming.
That’s why the decision by Rep. Johnny Berthelot, R-Gonzales, a quiet and unassuming maybe-candidate for speaker, to not run for re-election helps solidify the developing field perhaps a little better than when the summer started.
To be certain, House Natural Resources Chairman Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, continues to raise money aggressively heading into the peak of election season. The chairman held a fundraiser in Lafayette last week that was attended by roughly 250 people, including a few government relations pros who made the drive over from Baton Rouge.
Sources close to Bishop’s bid say more than $100,000 was for his re-election campaign, but the event served as a venue for the chairman to discuss his real goals.
Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Albany, is said to be making some inroads in his quest for the big gavel. A handful of prominent business leaders have taken an interest in his candidacy and some of those boosters are beginning to meet with lawmakers on Mack’s behalf. The real factor to watch for is when the leading candidates and their backers start merging with the interests and intentions of the gubernatorial candidates, which may already be happening at least on some level.
Also said to be looking at the top post are GOP Reps. Lance Harris of Alexandria, Alan Seabaugh of Shreveport, Barry Ivey of Central and a host of others. In an unexpected twist of legislative politics, a state House seat based in Lafayette will not have an incumbent in place by the time this fall’s elections roll around. Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, has resigned from her post and is now the new chief of staff for Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.
Already there are three contenders eyeing the seat, including former candidate and businessman Gus Rantz, energy executive Jim Dore and Jonathan Goudeau, a former law enforcement official and entrepreneur.
Rantz has decent name recognition from being on the ballot previously, but Dore is said to be wearing out his shoe leather. This could be a heated contest, with Goudeau serving as the wildcard.
Either way, it looks like Republicans will retain House District 31.