The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 19, 2019    |    Issue 179    |    |    @LaPoliticsNow    |     

Your Roll Call

RGA takes shots at John Bel Edwards… Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in town… New poll shows political feelings in EBR… Beth Mizell talks session… A look back at Elaine Edwards’ epic Gridiron response… Bobby Jindal has been spotted… tax bills are on the docket… a challenger emerges for Joel Robideaux in Lafayette… Billy Nungesser is hot on the money trail…    

Capitoland Countdown

11 days until the special election runoffs in HD 17, HD 18 and HD 62... 20 days until the start of the regular session... 140 days until qualifying opens... 207 days until the primary elections... 242 days until the runoff elections... 300 days left in the term...


Why Looziana Ain’t Mississippi (or Texas) 

The Republican Governors Association flexed their muscle in the gubernatorial race Monday, dispatching two members, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi, to the Bayou State for a little politicking with the two GOP candidates, Congressman Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.  

Unlike 2015, when they largely took their cues from former U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s camp, the RGA is not yet officially behind one campaign. Both Rispone and Abraham received top billing alongside the two  governors at a business forum in Baton Rouge and a New Orleans fundraiser

Insiders say that while the RGA and other similar groups have not yet decided on which candidate to back, they will be getting involved immediately, focusing their resources on attacking Gov. John Bel Edwards while waiting to see when either Abraham or Rispone emerges as the stronger candidate.

The RGA is already hitting Edwards over the tax hikes enacted during his term, even launching a website and putting out a few digital ads. The visit by the neighboring governors was meant to highlight the GOP’s anti-tax message, which centers on the idea that Edwards’ fiscal policy is driving business across the Sabine River into Texas. 

“Part of our success is businesses having second thoughts about Louisiana,” Abbott told the AP while in Baton Rouge Monday afternoon. 

Having Abbott and Bryant come to Louisiana was an effort to bring a governor vs. governor dynamic to the race, with two nationally-known chief executives lending their support to the GOP efforts to recapture the Governor’s Mansion.

While they are also running competitive races in Kentucky and Mississippi, the Democratic Governors Association has made supporting Edwards’ re-election their top priority this fall. However, unlike their GOP counterparts, DGA officials tell LaPolitics that they will be functioning largely in a support role, taking their cues from the Edwards campaign and supporting their efforts where needed.

For their part, Edwards’ camp doesn’t believe that the Republicans’ argument holds water, pointing to things such as Century Link’s announcement that they will stay in Monroe through 2025. “Unfortunately for them, Louisiana is moving in the right direction under Gov. Edwards and the facts are on his side,” said Edwards spokesman Eric Holl in a statement. 

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HDA Client Sasol Featured in 

OFFI Thrive Report for Community Impact 

The Organization for Foreign Investment recognized Sasol’s workforce initiatives in its 2019 Thrive Report. The OFFI comprises numerous international companies with interests across America, and promotes its members’ contributions to their communities.

Sasol was honored for its work to help underemployed and unemployed South Louisianans get qualified and find work with industry through its Southwest Louisiana Workforce Resource Guide and Scholarship Program, which launched in 2015.

The Workforce Resource Guide is a step-by-step guide to choosing a career path, acquiring training, certifications and basic life skills, preparing a resume and ultimately securing a job in support of area industry.

The program connects local residents with job training and social service resources, one-on-one mentorship and career counseling services. Following the successful launch of the resource guide, Sasol and its community partners expanded the program to provide financial assistance to cover tuition, transportation, childcare and other costs associated with educational advancement.

Sasol has invested over $740,000 in the guide and associated support services.

The scholarship program has helped more than 170 recipients graduate from technical programs. Furthermore, more than 200 people have participated in Sasol-sponsored Workforce Readiness Seminars, which provide information on topics including career planning, resume preparation and communication. 

Those interested in attending seminars, applying for a scholarship or becoming a mentor can learn more on the Foundation for SWLA website.

Learn more about Sasol’s Corporate Social Investment.

View the full OFII Thrive report including Sasol’s spotlight.

EBR Poll: JBE, Broome, Gautreaux & Moore

Note: While this story was set to run in last week’s edition of LaPolitics Weekly, it was accidentally omitted from the email newsletter. If you still get LaPolitics by fax or use the PDF, you received this story on Thursday. 

Pollster Greg Rigamer has a new snapshot of the political leanings in East Baton Rouge Parish with just seven months remaining before the fall elections. 

Rigamer polled more than 300 high frequency voters in the parish from Feb. 24-26. The poll was paid for by a group of local businessmen including lobbyist Alton Ashy, a prominent supporter of the Gov. John Bel Edwards

According to the findings, Edwards had a 65 percent favorability rating in East Baton Rouge Parish. By comparison, his unfavorables only clocked in at 21 percent. Additionally, 61 percent of the surveyed participants said that they would vote to re-elect the governor in October. 

The poll also found that Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome’s favorability was at 60 percent, just a few points shy of Edwards. Only 23 percent of respondents said that they had an “unfavorable” view of Broome. She is not up for re-election until the fall of 2020. 

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux had the highest favorable to unfavorable ratio in the poll, as well as the lowest approval and disapproval ratings. Roughly 49 percent of the poll’s respondents had a favorable view of Gautreaux, while just 7 percent had an unfavorable view. Meanwhile, 60 percent of those surveyed said that they would likely vote to re-elect the sheriff in October. 

District Attorney Hillar Moore, who is also on the ballot in October, had a 50 percent approval rating, with roughly 11 percent of voters disapproving of the job he has done. Another 58 percent of the respondents polled said they would probably be casting their ballots for Moore in the upcoming election. 

As far as the overall direction of East Baton Rouge Parish, 50 percent said that they felt that EBR was headed in the right direction, while 29 percent disagreed.


Sen. Beth Mizell

LaPolitics: We understand that you will be authoring legislation this session in regards to State Parks. What is the overall goal of your bill? 

Sen. Beth Mizell: The Washington Parish Reservoir Commission will be repealed by my Senate Bill this year and it will apply their remaining funds to expansion of recreation at Bogue Chitto State Park, also in Washington Parish. This Commission was put in place in 2003 and has gotten no approval to proceed on the project since that time.

 Why is the State Park such a priority for you this session? 

Bogue Chitto State Park expansion would build on the growth of the park here, but it also allows a positive to come from the frustration felt by many in our area toward the reservoir project, the silk purse out of the sow’s ear kind of thing. The audit conducted by the Legislative Auditor two years ago showed major issues with the overall project and the over $2 million dollar expenditures have been a hard pill to swallow in an area as needy as Washington Parish. Our state cannot afford to spend taxpayer money on pie in the sky.  

What are some of your other legislative priorities for this session? 

I’ve been a staunch supporter of expansion of early childhood education and I hope to see that materialize this year. So much of what we want to see happen in Louisiana depends on a better environment for our children and their educational outcomes. Early childhood opportunities can make a huge difference throughout our state. Besides repeal of the Reservoir Commission my bills this year will pick up from last year and will focus on human trafficking and protecting the unborn. There is also a bill to address an issue with the DMV and my first bill to name a road will be in my five. I am anxious to support legislation that will reduce the costs of insurance to Louisiana citizens and improve the business climate for economic growth in our state.

How do you believe that this session will play out, especially in regards to the budget and the teacher pay raise? 

As this is an election year, the selection of bills should be even more interesting than usual. The budget is debated each year from all sides with numbers that typically do not match and I doubt if this year is any different. Depending on the form it ultimately takes I see no opposition to the teacher pay raise at all.  No one wants to see our teachers shortchanged and we must put value on those we want to bring quality to education for our children.

What, in your view, is the biggest challenge facing lawmakers when they return?

Our challenge this year in the midst of the election buzz, is to stay focused on what we know our citizens need from us and how we can best improve the economic climate for our state, outside of the bubble of Baton Rouge.  


Elaine Edwards gets laughs at Gridiron

This week, elected officials, staff, journalists and other members of the Capitoland chattering class will make the trek to Baton Rouge’s American Legion Hall for the annual Gridiron Show. While the funny sketches and humorous songs preformed by the reporters are all meant in good fun, there was a time when the jokes about politicos were a little more biting. 

In 1978, then-Gov. Edwin Edwards was plagued by reports of corruption in his administration and the publication of Just Takin Orders, a book by former gopher Clyde Vidrine. While the author was far from a reliable source and the manuscript had many glaring errors, much of the colorful information contained in the book provided the material for that year’s edition of Gridiron. 

Writing about the show in The Last Hayride, LaPolitics founder John Maginnis said, “There was no lack of bad taste that night on the part of the reporters as they reenacted the spicer tales from the book. The governor sat through the show poker faced as usual, but his wife appeared far less amused.” 

According to Maginnis, when Edwin Edwards was called on-stage for the traditional gubernatorial rebuttal, he shocked everybody by pulling out a copy of Vidrine’s book and asking the first lady to join him. 

With the audience sitting in stunned silence, the normally shy and diminutive Elaine Edwards strode to the mic and started reading from a particularly salacious passage that involved Vidrine’s recollections of one night when her husband allegedly took multiple women into his hotel room for sexual liaisons. 

“Well, of course, that’s untrue,” she said. “Anyone who knows my husband knows he would have been asleep after the first one.” 

Laughter broke out almost immediately and the first lady received a standing ovation from the audience. The governor stood next to his wife, beaming with delight. 

S P O T T E D !

—Former Gov. Bobby Jindal was seen catching up with Gannett’s Greg Hilburn and the AP’s Melinda Deslatte at LPB on Thursday. 

—Congressman Ralph Abraham was seen in Jefferson Parish on St. Patrick’s Day, marching in Metairie’s annual parade.  

—Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser was seen visiting with Congressman Garret Graves at Baton Rouge’s Wearin’ of the Green parade. 

—Minority Whip Steve Scalise was seen enjoying lunch with Rep. Tanner Magee and other elected officials in Lafourche Parish Monday afternoon. 

—Rep. Steve Carter was seen at the official campaign kickoff for Rep. Rick Edmonds’ re-election campaign, officially offering up his support. 

—Southeastern President John Crain and UL System President Jim Henderson were seen visiting with a group of lawmakers including Sens. Bodi White, Jack Donahue, Beth Mizell and Reps. Reid Falconer and Nicholas Muscarello during a visit to the Hammond campus. 

—St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne was seen at the White House on Friday, standing alongside President Donald Trump in the Oval Office as he vetoed the Congressional resolution revoking his emergency declaration on border security.

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I ’ M  J U S T  A  B I L L

With just over two months remaining until the start of the regular session, lawmakers are already filling bills for consideration when members convene. Since legislators are limited to only five instruments this session, everybody will be carefully considering what measures they are choosing to introduce. Here are some of the bills filed within the last week: 

HB76 by Rep. Mark Abraham: “(Constitutional Amendment) Establishes an ad valorem tax exemption for property subject to a cooperative endeavor agreement requiring the property owner to make payments in lieu of taxes.” 

HB68 by Rep. Polly Thomas: “Creates the 'War of 1812’ specialty license plate.” 

SB21 by Sen. Barrow Peacock: “Phases in the dedication of the temporary sales tax levy to the Transportation Trust Fund.” 

P O L I T I C A L   C H A T T E R

—MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The first gubernatorial forum for this cycle featuring all three candidates will be held at PAR’s annual conference on April 11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge. 

Carlee Alm-LaBar, Lafayette’s former development and planning director, announced that she will challenge Mayor-President Joel Robideaux’s bid for a second term this fall. 

@GregHilburn1: “Longtime @LaFarmBureau Ronnie Anderson says rumor he’s running against Ag Commish @MikeStrain4LA false. ‘Mike called me himself to ask. It’s out there but I’m not considering it,’ Anderson says #lalege #lagov” 

—Strain was the substitute teacher for Dr. Jim Richardson’s economics class at LSU last Friday.

@MelindaDeslatte: “Senate President John Alario says he hopes to have another Revenue Estimating Conference meeting next month, for House Speaker Taylor Barras to consider changing his position and increase the forecast. #lalege #lagov” 

—Gov. John Bel Edwards’ House liaison Adam Keyes has departed the Fourth Floor. Keyes’ new role will be as Valero’s state governmental affairs manager in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

—Former Board of Regents Chair Richard Lipsey is calling upon LSU to dismiss President F. King Alexander and Athletic Director Joe Alleva.

—After decades in print, both The Bastrop Daily Enterprise and the North Ouachita Weekly News will officially close up shop on March 29.

—CBS News recently visited with New Orleans Saints wide receiver Austin Carr, who is spending the offseason interning with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s office on Capitol Hill. 

—Former Democratic National Committee Chair and New Orleans native Donna Brazile has joined Fox News as a contributor.

—A St. Landry Parish judge has delayed the criminal trial for former Opelousas Mayor Reggie Tatum until July. 

—Sunday, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation

Pre-orders are being accepted for Bob Mann’s latest book, Becoming Ronald Reagan: The Rise of a Conservative Icon

—Baton Rouge’s annual Gridiron Show is set for this weekend. For the first time ever, tickets can be purchased online through their new website.

T H E   W A R   C H E S T   W A R

—Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser will be holding his “Louisiana Takes the Stage” fundraiser at Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge on April 10. According to Nungesser’s Facebook page, the food for the event will come from a variety of local chefs and restaurants such as Drago’s, Acme Oyster House, Zea Rotisserie and Hooters. 

Nungesser will also be having a fundraiser at the Capitol Hill club in Washington, D.C. on March 26. The event’s invitation lists U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, RSC Chair Mike Johnson, Congressman Clay Higgins and Congressman Ralph Abraham as hosts. 

—Covington Mayor Mike Cooper, who is running for St. Tammany Parish President, will be having a fundraiser at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville on March 28. 

N E W S   S H A P I N G   O U R   P O L I T I C S

The AP: "Louisiana’s two Republican candidates for governors started Monday to stake out modest differences on business tax breaks, teacher pay and the state’s Medicaid expansion program, at an event called to tout their differences from Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards on economic policy.” 

The Advocate: “Two groups — one created by the mayor and the governor, the other consisting of tourism and business leaders working behind the scenes — are zeroing in on sources of money that could help address the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board’s immediate and long-term spending needs.” 

Gambit: “New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has drawn her first electoral battle lines since taking office last year. She opposes a new 2-mill property tax for senior services while she leads the effort to renew an existing 6.31-mill levy for parks and recreation. She says the difference between the two propositions is the level of accountability each offers.” 

—Catch the latest political analysis from Jim Beam, the dean of the Capitol press corps. 

B E L T W A Y   B E A T

This week, Congress heads out on recess with both the House and the Senate taking a break after weeks of contentious debate. While on break from the D.C. grind, most members are returning back home to meet with constituents and address pressing business. 

—Before they left Washington, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy met with HUD Secretary Ben Carson last week to discuss the delay with the implementation for duplication of benefits. While both senators called the meeting productive, Kennedy told reporters that there are still many hoops to jump through before the deal is completed. In particular, the process still needs approval from the Office of Management and Budget. Kennedy added that he would personally ask President Donald Trump to intervene on the matter if needed. 

Cassidy is hitting the road this week, speaking to groups in Avoylles Parish, Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Gonzales. 

—Majority Whip Steve Scalise is out traveling in his district for most of the week. Monday, he met with local elected officials in the Houma-Thibodaux area to discuss federal hurricane protection projects. 

—Assistant House Majority Whip Cedric Richmond is partnering with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to introduce the American Housing & Economic Mobility Act, a bill designed to build 3.2 million new housing units and address issues with high rents. The New Orleans pitching ace was also recognized by Sports and Industry Fitness Association as their 2019 “Champion of Health and Fitness.” 

—Congressman Ralph Abraham has asked President Donald Trump to consider putting the new headquarters for the United States Space Command in Louisiana. 

—Last week, CBS News profiled Congressman Garret Graves and his work on Capitol Hill addressing land loss and coastal restoration, as well as the new national role that his committee work has taken. Wednesday, Graves will be joining U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island on a tour of the Davis Pond diversion project in St. Charles Parish. 


In Last Week’s LaPolitics Weekly

—Welcome to the re-election session 

—Will fiscal year policies take a backseat to election year politics? 

—What will be the top bills for the regular session? 

—Homestead Exemption, Death Penalty, tobacco sales and term limits are on the table 

—A look at the new members joining #LaLege 

—Senate Committee Chairs talk about their expectations for session 

—Is Steve Scalise still considering a bid for governor? 

—A look at two big St. Tammany Parish fundraisers in Inside the Rails

John Kennedy talks cable news and Billy Nungesser dishes on crawfish in They Said It! 

—Plus more! 

Get on the inside today with a subscription to LaPolitics Weekly!

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Louisiana’s Chemical Industry: Providing Opportunities for Young Louisianians

As an employer of more than 29,100 Louisianians across 53 of the state’s 64 parishes, the chemical industry has maintained its ranking as the no. 1 producer of direct jobs in our state’s manufacturing sector. 

Since 2012, there have been $160 billion dollars worth of announcements in new chemical plants and expansions. If all of these projects come to fruition in Louisiana, there is estimated to be at least 19,055 jobs created for people across the state. 

As the industry continues to thrive in Louisiana, the demand for skilled workers needed will increase. However, receiving specialized training to pursue a career in the industry sometimes requires a different pathway than the traditional four-year college degree. Although not always emphasized, high school students have many options following graduation, including attending technical schools to prepare them for careers in the chemical industry. 

Jeremie Fontenot, a 2018 graduate of SOWELA Technical Community College and recent hire at Sasol, is one example of a young Louisianian who has benefited from the opportunities that technical colleges and the local industry provide for high school graduates. 

The two-year process technology (PTEC) degree Jeremie earned through SOWLEA’s technical program will be instrumental throughout his career as the industry strengthens both statewide and local economies.   

Learn more about Jeremie’s story here.

# H B D ,   T R A C K E R S !

—Tuesday, March 19: Zoe Alford, Sen. Barrow Peacock, Jim Kitchen and Alice Knight Reed

—Wednesday, March 20: Rep. Sherman Mack, John Williams, Tony Perkins, late Gov. Oramel H. Simpson (1870) and Blake Corley

—Thursday, March 21: Leslie Leavoy

—Friday, March 22: Former Rep. Chris Broadwater, Lauren Estopinal Chauvin, Jennifer Marusak and Jess Schmeeckle

—Saturday, March 23: Maya Lau

—Sunday, March 24: Brent Roy

—Monday, March 25: Matt Moreau, Dennie Williams and Jonathan Diez

Birthdays, anniversaries, birth announcements, you name it.

We want to know about your special day.

Send those dates to

Copyright © 2019

Jeremy Alford/Louisiana Political Review

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