Political History by Mitch Rabalais: When Duke and Shaq Clashed

In 1991, the LSU Basketball team was one of the best squads in the country. Featuring the nation’s top player, Shaquille O’Neal, the Tigers appeared poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

But as basketball season tipped off, it wasn’t exciting games in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center that drew national attention to Louisiana.

State Rep. David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, had made a runoff in the hotly contested race for governor. With his well-known past, Duke had become the subject of international media attention, basking in the spotlight.

Increasingly worried about how Duke’s image was hurting the state’s ability to attract economic development, New Orleans businessman Dave Dixon paid for a series of TV spots. In them, he explained how David Duke in the Governor’s Mansion could negatively effect LSU’s ability to attract top athletes.

Dixon’s ads were effective and generated a fair bit of attention, and sportswriters covering LSU began asking players and coaches for their thoughts on the governor’s race. When approached, O’Neal said, “I’m not into politics. I looked at LSU as a school when I came here. Now if David Duke were the coach and trying to recruit me, I'd have told him to take a hike.”

Days later, a WAFB reporter asked Duke about Dixon’s ads. Having caught O’Neal’s response, he said, "Shaquille O'Neal on the LSU basketball team said my being governor wouldn't affect the state at all. He said unless I was perhaps the coach.”

O’Neal instantly caught backlash for Duke’s remarks. Coach Dale Brown, never shy with his political opinions,  was outraged by the politician’s spin on his player’s words. He helped O’Neal draft a statement denouncing Duke and calling the candidate a liar.

Duke, an LSU alumnus, supposedly made plans to attend the Tigers’ next home game. Brown told LSU administrators that if Duke was in the crowd, he and the team would walk off the court in protest. On the day of the game, police were stationed all around the PMAC, determined to intercept Duke. He never showed.

Alford: Why LaPOLITICS Needs Your Help

A Personal Appeal from Jeremy Alford You may have heard about a fundraiser scheduled for next week (on Tuesday, March 27) for CC73, a

Rabalais: Hale Boggs Runs Afoul of Hoover and the FBI

In the spring of 1971, Congressman Hale Boggs of New Orleans, then the House majority leader, was making moves on Capitol Hill. A well

Waiting on HB2

Louisiana’s annual construction bill is expected to be read into the House later today, kicking off a process that is just as riddled with

Political Chatter

— Rep. Jay Morris is stepping up and speaking out about his concerns about a proposed constitutional convention. And he has a slick web

AS SEEN ON TWITTER: Lawmakers Split On Convention

— Rep. Jay Morris (@JayJaymorris3): Beware of a new constitution. All those pushing for it are aiming at the middle class. Noticeably no one

Alford: Looking for a Little Womentum

I was sitting inside Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge 11 years ago this week, holding my newborn daughter, Zoe, while watching then-Gov.

Gamard’s Beltway Beat

— U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy has had a busy week. He sent several messages across federal agencies, including one asking for healthcare payment


— Tuesday 03/20: Rep. Sherman Mack, John Williams, Tony Perkins, late Gov. Oramel H. Simpson (1870) and Blake Corley — Wednesday 03/21:

LOWDOWN: Our Jailhouse Politicians

These days, it seems there’s always either a politician going to prison or getting out of prison. As the saying goes, half the state is

POD: New Kids on the Block

In this week’s episode of the LaPOLITICS Report, we talk to members of the Louisiana Republican Party about the future of the GOP and the

SPONSORED: The Picard Group Welcomes Hunter Hall

We are proud to announce that Hunter Hall has joined the federal affairs team at The Picard Group. Hunter brings a wealth of knowledge on

What’s Up With Session Stuff and What It Means for Politics and Stuff

1.) The news: Gov. John Bel Edwards is asking Speaker Taylor Barras and President John Alario to pass a resolution that sets an early or

A Conversation With Wildlife & Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet

Jeremy Alford: I do want to talk fees with you, but I have to ask…  Do you miss it (serving in the Legislature) at all? Secretary Jack

Political Chatter

— The five managed care organizations (MCOs) that are contracted with the state to provide Medicaid benefits and services have created a new

Alford: The Pace Of Things To Come

What happens when you take a Louisiana Legislature that’s earning a reputation for disfunction and tell its members that they have just nine

Rabalais: Plaquemines Parish’s “Little War of 1943”

On June 1, 1943, the Sheriff of Plaquemines Parish, Louis Dauterive, died suddenly. Instead of an orderly transition amid a period of

Gamard’s Beltway Beat

— U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is one of the lawmakers sponsoring a “school safety and mental health” bill that directs federal dollars for


— Tuesday 03/13: Former Congressman Joseph Cao, Rep. Valarie Hodges, Donald Hodge, Jessica Starns Debetaz and Phil Ranier — Wednesday

LOWDOWN: Louisiana’s Talented Politicians

We’ve finally reached the talent portion of The LaPolitics Lowdown. Which is fortunate. Because, believe us, you do not want to see all of

SPONSORED: Public-private hospital partnerships and their utmost importance to our state

Funding for Louisiana’s public-private hospital partnerships is in question, and it could have a dramatic effect on healthcare in Louisiana.

A Conversation With House Clerk Butch Speer

Jeremy Alford: So… Now what? House Clerk Butch Speer: Well, it’s true that legislatures all over the country — but this one in particular,

Rabalais: Rodrigue’s Reluctant Legacy

RABALAIS’ POLITICAL HISTORY Before George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog made Louisiana’s “I Voted” sticker a hot item, the late artist’s iconic

Political Chatter

— Andrew Bautsch is the new executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party. He was most recently with Causeway Solutions. — Former

Gamard’s Beltway Beat

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has introduced the Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act, named after a synthetic drug found in heroin: “We are at war

#HBD Trackers!

— Tuesday 03/06: Lauren Hebert Lee, Greg Meriwether and Jackie Tisdell — Wednesday 03/07: Julie Adams — Thursday 03/08: Former U.S. Sen.