Governor may steer clear of legislative races

As January reaches its midpoint, Gov. John Bel Edwards hasn’t decided who he might support in the Legislature’s upcoming special elections in north and south Louisiana.

It’s possible that the governor, a Democrat, could potentially avoid the races for these legislative seats altogether, especially since all of them are located in districts that lean conservative.

Edwards made a small handful of endorsements last year, helping Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome get elected but falling short on his other nods for the U.S. Senate, Congress and Public Service Commission.

Now there are three special elections slated for March 25 to fill seats in the House of Representatives.

Candidates have already signed up for the House District 8 race in the Bossier City region, where newly-seated Congressman Mike Johnson vacated the post, and for the House District 92 contest in the Kenner area, which was prompted by the election of former Rep. Tom Willmott to the City Council there.

The race in the Acadiana-based House District 42 will be open to qualifiers beginning next week, from Jan. 25-27. It was made vacant when Jack Montoucet was appointed as the new wildlife and fisheries secretary by Edwards.

Runoffs in all of these special elections, as needed, are scheduled for April 29.

The legislative seats will remain vacant during the Legislature’s next special session, which the governor is expected to call for mid-February.

The governor has said that the special session will be needed to help address a $313 million deficit plaguing the current fiscal year.

This year’s regular session will convene on April 10, which means new lawmakers elected via special elections may miss a few weeks of the action if runoffs are needed.

The regular session is expected to host discussions on tax reform and a contentious budget debate for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

GOP headed to Supreme CourtThe Louisiana Republican Party finally filed its appeal last week with the U.S. Supreme Court for a challenge to the ban on unlimited donations to political parties.

A three-judge D.C. District Court decided against the state GOP last year, holding that traditional party activities may “benefit” federal candidates.

“While super-PACs may receive unrestricted funds to do independent activities, political parties are severely limited in their participation by funding restrictions,” said lead counsel James Bopp Jr. “Fairness and the First Amendment require that political parties be liberated from the ‘soft money’ restrictions on their independent activities so they can effectively participate in our political system by resuming their traditional voter-mobilization activities.”

Scalise delivers for D.C. Mardi GrasAs chairman of Washington Mardi Gras this year, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, has secured a top advisor to President-elect Donald Trump to address the gathering’s annual economic development luncheon.

Stephen Moore, Trump’s economic advisor and a Heritage Foundation fellow, will deliver the keynote at the event hosted by the Jefferson Chamber on Feb. 10 at the Washington Hilton.

Business leaders are already eager for the networking opportunity, which will come within the first 100 days of the new administration.Washington Mardi Gras is a three-day event organized by the non-profit Mystick Krewe of Louisianians in conjunction with the state’s congressional delegation and others. Political History: Hattie and HueyLast week marked the 85th anniversary (January 12, 1932) of Hattie Caraway of Arkansas becoming the first women ever elected to the United States Senate — an accomplishment that was greatly aided by then-Sen. Huey Long of Louisiana.

Caraway was actually the second woman to serve in the Senate, having been appointed to the seat when her husband Thaddeus Caraway died in office. According to congressional archives, her first remark upon entering the upper chamber was, “The windows need washing!”

As a temporary appointment, she had to immediately begin running in a special election, for which the Arkansas political establishment wanted someone else to win.Enter the Kingfish.

Long, who at the time was mounting an upstart presidential bid, was eager to prove his prowess outside of Louisiana. So he secured a fleet of vehicles and relocated dozens of state employees (from Louisiana) to launch a canvassing operation.

Long gave nearly 40 speeches in Arkansas that election cycle with Hattie at his side.

“We’re out here to pull a lot of pot–bellied politicians off a little woman’s neck,” Long told Arkansas voters during the 1932 cycle. “She voted with you people and your interests in spite of all the pressure Wall Street could bring to bear. This brave little woman senator stood by you.”

Caraway cleaned up in the primary, garnering about 45 percent in a seven-candidate field. And then she won in the runoff by a landslide.They Said It“Anything I win past this point is icing on the cake.”—State Rep. Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia, after qualifying for the 2017 International Practical Shooting Confederation Handgun World Shoot in Paris (he previously won a gold medal), in The Advertiser“I’ve eaten a lot of gumbo this year, and I’ve seen a lot of gumption.”—Gov. John Bel Edwards, during his one-year-in-office press conference


About Jeremy Alford 212 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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