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July 24, 2018 — Issue No. 151

By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com), Sarah Gamard (Sarah@LaPolitics.com),

& Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com)


  1.) A Group Of Fine Fellows

I had the opportunity this morning to meet and chat with a group of 10 college students this morning from the governor’s new fellowship program. Participants are shadowing department heads, and a couple have been placed in the office of Gov. John Bel Edwards. They’re young, aggressive and bright. It’s a terrific program, too, one I would have enjoyed participating in when I was at that age — a zillion years ago.

Take some time today to learn about the program. Hopefully this will be the first of many years when young fellows will be dropped into the heart of state government and tasked with learning and sharing.

2.) Big Tease: The Rumor That Burns As Bright As Sunshine

There are whispers, growing more audible by the day, about a Big Name jumping unexpectedly into a statewide race next year. These aren’t vague suggestions, either, but rather specific…

To go into any greater detail would be a disservice…

Actually, just forget this item ever showed up in The Tracker. There’s nothing to see here. Move along.

3.) Drop The Mike

My homie down the hall, Melinda Deslatte of The AP, baked this tweet today for public consumption: “@RepMikeJohnson says he is a candidate to be chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, the GOP's conservative caucus in the chamber. Vote will be in mid-November.”

Johnson has been a politico on the move since he showed up to the Legislature in Baton Rouge, and this bid is another bold step. It’s a great gig to have, and one Majority Whip Steve Scalise leveraged into a leadership job oh-so many moons ago.

4.) Hilburn Visits Capitol

No, not that Hilburn, although Greg was south of north Looziana today, in Red Stick. I’m talking instead about Shutterbug Shyla Hilburn, a third generation journalist, or photojournalist in her case. She’s doing great work for the USA Today Network of Newspapers. Take a look at a few of her more recent shots.

(Shyla joined her father, Melinda, LSU’s Bob Mann and myself this morning for a media panel with the governor’s fellowship program.)

5.) Jeff & John Bel

They’re at it again… As you know.

But you probably need a break from it for a bit. We have an item about it below anyhow.

Instead, accept these actual UPI headlines in place of any actual related information:  

— Naked yoga man said he thought gym was 'judgment free zone'

— Bear breaks into New Hampshire home, eats bird seed

6.) Do You Even NFIP, Bro?

Will they or won’t they? Hold onto your flood policies, because the U.S. House may vote as soon as tomorrow on extending the nation's controversial insurance program. The deadline to do something, anything, expires in exactly one week.

A Message From Harris, DeVille & Associates

Sasol Reaches 600 New Hires, Plans Start Up

Sasol delivering on its commitment to hire local for its new, full-time U.S. manufacturing positions

Sasol has hired 600 of the more than 700 direct jobs the company expects to hire for its new $11.13 billion ethane cracker and derivatives project under construction adjacent to its existing facility near Westlake in Calcasieu Parish. Eighty-five percent of those hired to date are Louisiana residents.

These new, quality jobs have an average salary of $80,000 and are in addition to the more than 450 full-time positions that support Sasol’s existing operations near Westlake. This will bring Sasol’s employment to over 1,150 in Southwest Louisiana by 2019. That is in addition to the 1,500 contractors who will support the facility on a daily basis once operational.

“We are thrilled to be delivering on our Louisiana First commitment with these outcomes, outcomes we attribute to strong partnerships at the local and state level,” said Mike Kane, vice president of Sasol North American Operations Lake Charles West Plant.

Sasol still expects to startup the first three units at the end of this year, with the remaining four units starting up in 2019.

Visit www.SasolNorthAmerica.com for more information about the project.


Five Trends & Takeaways From Qualifying

For an election cycle that’s expected to be bland, last week’s qualifying process opened up an impressive spread of statewide, regional and multi-parish positions — 68 total, not including local-level posts.

If you missed the action on these major races, either intentionally or accidentally, here are five trends and takeaways from this most recent qualifying period for our 2018 election cycle.

1.) Apathy Continues

One-third (33.8 percent) of the statewide, regional and multi-parish offices that were slated for the Nov. 6 ballot drew just one candidate each.

That means they’re in line to be decided without an official vote of the people. These lone-candidate races are part of an unnerving trend where citizens are not only showing a lack of interest in voting, but also in running for office.

The politicos who scored easy and cheap victories last week probably don’t mind. But voters should.

2.) Who Didn’t Get Free Passes

Each and every members of the Louisiana’s U.S. House delegation will have to strap on gloves this cycle. There were plenty of challengers to go around and each congressman has at least one.  

3.) Who Did Get Free Passes

Still new to the Public Service Commission’s 2nd District following a special election, Dr. Craig Greene’s bid for a full term ended successfully before it started at all. His lack of opposition can be credited to the $1 million, 20-month fundraising haul that was finessed by Greene’s campaign.

State Supreme Court Justice Jeff Hughes got his robe and gavel back for the cost of qualifying as well, and Sen. Jonathan Perry is probably going to get a new set for being the lone qualifier for a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal seat.

With $264,000 in the bank, Hughes spared the state a repeat of his last election, which pitted business interests against members of the trial bar. The latter has again emerged victorious, but there is another active Supreme Court race in the 1st District to keep tabs on. Two Republicans, Richard Ducote of Covington and Greg Guidry of New Orleans, are on the ballot.

Like Greene, Hughes and Perry, there were another 20 lone qualifiers who won their major races in the best way possible — without opposition.

4.) BR’s Revolving Door

That list mentioned above of opponent-less candidates includes Rep.-elect Wayne McMahen, who is positioned to become the newest member of the Legislature following his lone qualification for the special election in House District 10. That victory also means that one of the three special House elections on the November ballot has already been decided

Plus, yet another special election will need to be called in the state Senate. Like McMahen, Sen. Jonathan Perry was the only contender to sign up for a vacant seat on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal.

5.) SOS Is Numero Uno

The race for secretary of state still tops the ballot as the only open statewide elected position.

To be certain, it made the biggest splash during the qualifying period last week. As the final moments ticked by, interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin unexpectedly qualified for the race after telling reporters and lawmakers he would do no such thing.

If you believe the chatter from the Capitol class, Rep. Julie Stokes of Kenner is the early favorite, with her cancer-beating story of personal triumph, a war chest holding more than $184,000 and a base that’s flowering out of the voter-rich region in and around Jefferson Parish.

Others signed their names to state documents as well, including Turkey Creek Mayor Heather Cloud; former Sen. A.G. Crowe; Rep. Rick Edmonds; and Reneé Free, who’s on leave as the attorney general’s public protection director.

Edmonds will have a finely-tuned fundraising operation that will be worth watching, but he’ll also have to unite his fellow pastors from around the state to show he can generate the kind of support needed to win.

Expect a serious effort from Crowe, who isn’t doing any favors for Stokes by mounting a bid out of St. Tammany, which the representative will need to complete her collection of must-win GOP parishes. While the southeast will be a key area for conservative candidates, keep an eye on Acadiana, which has failed to come through for any particular candidates of late despite it having the capability.

One reason oddsmakers like Stokes is because she’s a woman who can talk about women’s issues in any environment. That’s important in an election to replace a man who was chased out of office by sexual harassment allegations. The election seems built for a female candidate, which is probably why there are four women running, including Stokes, out of the nine-person field.

It’s rare that so many qualified women would appear in the same race — serving as either further confirmation of how ripe the contest is for gender politics or proof that more women are taking an interest in politics. Given that men still outnumber women nearly three-to-one as candidates in these races, the most likely explanation could be the former.

Also running in the SOS election are Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democrat from Clinton who in 2015 ran for East Feliciana Parish clerk of court; attorney Matt Moreau, a medical equipment business owner and cannabis activist; and Thomas J. Kennedy III, a real estate developer from New Orleans who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2007.

The primary elections are scheduled for Nov. 6, with runoffs as needed Dec. 8.


Landry Calls Governor A "Crafty" Obstacle

The latest in the weeklong back-and-forth between Attorney General Jeff Landry and Gov. John Bel Edwards over the death penalty is a letter from Landry: “You make the unremarkable observation that other methods of execution ‘are not allowed by Louisiana law,’” it reads. “While this is true, you avoid the simple truth that the law can be changed.”

The governor’s office counters that Landry “has not offered a single bill” since 2016. “We are pleased that he (Landry) has conceded that current law, not the governor, is standing in the way of the state resuming executions," wrote the governor's chief of staff, Richard Carbo, in a reply to the letter. "We will review his suggestions and hope to re-start a constructive dialogue.”

For some background on this one, Mark Ballard has the story for The Advocate. And in case you missed Landry yesterday in an on-air interview with 101.7/710 KEEL, here's some of Landry from that conversation:

— On legal action: "Back in 2016, when we took office, the suit had been dragging on. We had not carried out an execution since 2010. When we got involved, we looked at the case, we listened to what the lawyers at the time, who had been involved in the case, were saying. In an effort to try to get our hands around the issue, we agreed to an extension to the state. Which was back in 2016. From that point forward, we had numerous conversations with the Department of Corrections to outline paths forward in methods under which we could go back in carrying out these executions. Each and every time, when we laid those out, we understood, and — look, I respect that, that (sic) the secretary of the Department of Corrections has to answer to the governor. That’s who he’s appointed to. That’s who is boss is. So, ultimately, he had to get signed off on for us to move forward. That never occurred. Then, fast-forward, we don’t hear anything, there’s no movement, nothing’s going on. They decide — they did not communicate with us — to an additional extension… That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

— On the death penalty: “We have laid out a multitude of possible solutions. Other states all around us have worked through the same particular issues and have been able to carry out their executions. Here’s my concern: My concern is for the public safety. It’s for the safety of our citizens. When you have a rule of law, when you have sentences and you don’t carry them out, that is not in any way a deterrent from crime. That is an encouragement of crime… Right now, we have over 70 people sitting on death row and we haven’t carried out an execution since 2010. The state of Arkansas, several months ago, a number of months ago, a good friend of mine, the attorney general for them, Leslie Rutledge, was able to break through the legal blockades and put seven up them up in 24 hours. Now, not all of them were carried out, but I think they carried out two or three of them, okay? And speaking of, she tells me that it absolutely made a difference.”

— On the governor: “The media has consistently asked him (the governor) about it. He has never answered the question of, ‘Do you or don’t you support the death penalty?’... He is a complete obstacle. Here’s the interesting point: The governor, he is so crafty. I’ll give him that, you know? He is so crafty at convincing the public as to what they want him to do, while he does the opposite, okay? Because he was like, ‘Well, the attorney general never put forth the legislation.’ The governor put the legislation in session a record number of times to raise taxes when he wanted more money out of the taxpayer. The governor, with his leadership, put forth all of his criminal justice reinvestment bills out there, that let all these people out of prison in early sentencing. His Pardon and Parole Board, if you go back and look at the number of pardons and commuting of sentences — and this is, again, he said, ‘I’m for taking care of nonviolent offenders.’ I would beg to differ that his record shows differently. So right now, he’s saying, right now he has admitted since I raised this issue, that (sic), ‘Well, you know, we need a legislative fix.’ Well, let me tell you, where has he been?”


LBJ: “You Don’t Reward Shreveport”

In January of 1965, U.S. Sen. Russell Long heard that the Appropriations Committee, when preparing the upcoming congressional budget, had killed his pet project.

Long had wanted to build a new post office in Shreveport, bringing federal jobs and money into the city. When he was told that the cut had been ordered by the White House, the senator picked up the phone and called President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Long and the president, having been freshman senators together, were old friends. When Johnson had risen through the upper chamber’s ranks and became majority leader, the Bayou State’s junior senator had been one of his most reliable votes. LBJ often spoke about his admiration for the late Huey Long, Russell’s father. When he was a young congressional staffer in the 1930s, the future president frequently slipped away from his desk to watch the Kingfish’s tirades on the Senate floor.

In between appointments in the Oval Office, Johnson took Long’s call. Their conversation, which was secretly recorded, is a powerful example of LBJ’s domineering personality and brash political style. (The audio can be accessed here.)

After exchanging pleasantries, the senator explained his predicament. The president,fresh off of the largest electoral victory in American history and days away from his second inauguration,was not in a conciliatory mood. Instead of the friendly chat Long probably expected, he found himself on the receiving end of one of Johnson’s legendary harangues.

The president immediately made it clear that the removal of the post office project in Shreveport was made out of political animosity. Despite winning 44 states the previous fall, he had lost Louisiana to Barry Goldwater by a wide margin. Caddo Parish, in particular, had been a hotbed of anti-Johnson sentiment. Word had gotten back to the White House and it stuck in LBJ’s craw. “Those are some of the meanest, most vicious people in the United States,” Johnson told Long. “Now you help those folks that vote for you and stay with you. You don’t reward Shreveport.”

Long then tried to reason with the president, telling him that getting the post office built had been his own campaign pledge and therefore could hurt his chances for re-election. “I told those people I was going to get it for them,” he said.

The president was undeterred — he would be happy to approve federal projects in Louisiana to help the senator politically, he told Long, but anything in Shreveport was out of the question. When Long mentioned recent job losses at Barksdale Air Force Base, the commander-in-chief said he was considering shutting down the whole installation.

Frustrated, Long started pleading before LBJ cut him off. “I know your daddy must be turning over in his grave,” he said. “He didn’t reward people that way.”

The president knew his history well.

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Here are the headlines subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly received in the issue that was published five days ago:

Kyle Ardoin to qualifying processing: SURPRISE!

— Third of major races already decided

— Free passes for Craig Greene, Jeff Hughes, Jonathan Perry & others

— But not our congressmen; they’re gonna have to earn it

— SURPRISE 2.0: GOP flips House seat

— An advance review of Bob Livingston’s forthcoming book

Billy Nungesser on the future of ticket politics and an unseen term limits angle

— Legislative turnover positioned to worsen

— Reviving a 40-year-old educational program

— A handful of “Field Notes!”

— Our regular “They Said It!” feature

— Plus more!

For 25 years LaPolitics Weekly has been Louisiana's premier trade publication for elected officials, lobbyists, campaign professionals, journalists and other politicos.

Become a part of this elite community by subscribing today!

A Message From Harris, DeVille & Associates

Sasol To Begin Phased Commissioning, Encourages Residents To Sign Up For SasolTEXT Alerts

Commissioning activities are underway at Sasol’s U.S. $11.13 billion Lake Charles Chemicals Project in Southwest Louisiana with several systems and machinery to be tested over the next few months in advance of startup.

Beginning in late July, activities will involve testing of safety devices such as flares as well as process, utility, electrical and instrumentation systems. Throughout the process, Sasol will continue to notify the community of its ongoing activities through its SasolTEXT system. Local residents can sign up for these alerts at www.SasolNorthAmerica.com.

As of March 31, the project reached 85 percent complete and a cumulative capital spend of $9.19 billion. Sasol plans to start up the first three new manufacturing units by the end of 2018 with remaining units expected to start up in 2019.

“Protecting people and the environment is our priority, and our commissioning process is a safety exercise in itself,” said Sasol spokesperson Kim Cusimano. “A team of experienced engineers, process technologists and industrial safety experts have worked for several years, in parallel to construction activities, to outline in great detail the commissioning activities.”

Learn more about the project at www.SasolNorthAmerica.com.


— Not dead last! Louisiana is outpacing the national rate of economic growth, Sam Karlin reports for The Advocate. Meanwhile, Melinda Deslatte writes for the AP that Louisiana’s job market “slackened” in June, as unemployment rose and employer payrolls fell.

Greg Hilburn gives us the best zingers from the election qualifying marathon in The News-Star.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee member John Kennedy met with Supreme Court judicial nominee Brett Kavanaugh this afternoon in the junior senator’s office.

Joe Gyan for The Advocate: Baton Rouge lawyer Niles Haymer is asking the town of Clinton to remove a statue of a Confederate soldier from its perch just outside the East Feliciana Parish courthouse.

— House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in the New York Post: “No, I’m not running for speaker, and I’ve been clear. We all need to be focused on keeping this majority. I mean, if we don’t have the majority, then Nancy Pelosi takes over and we lose complete control over the direction of the country, and we can’t let that happen.”

— Scalise talked more about the GOP’s strategy to Fox Business.

— Sen. Conrad Appel, former Rep. Austin Badon and actor Spud McConnell are just some of the names slated for radio talk show host Jeff Crouere’s “Politics With A Punch” this Thursday at the Eiffel Society in New Orleans. GET TICKETS

The Lens and attorney Scott Sternberg are hosting a public records workshop with a focus on criminal justice tomorrow evening in New Orleans. REGISTER

The New York Times: "Because state governments control redistricting, new Democratic governors could help cement the House gains, or at least block Republicans from repeating the post-2010 gerrymandering that helped entrench their power in Congress.”

Attorney Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti): “My client Stormy Daniels and her husband Glen have decided to end their marriage. A petition for divorce was filed last week, the accuracy of which is vehemently disputed. Stormy’s daughter remains her number one priority.  She kindly asks for privacy for the sake of her family.”

— Stormy, about 5 hours later: “I don't need or want privacy. I want truth. And it will come out. I'm not afraid.”

— Congressman Clay Higgins “spills the beans” in KADN News15's new show (which, if you like Jerry Seinfeld, appears to be the Louisiana-focused version of the comedy legend’s Netflix series, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”). Higgins: “You know, we watched these TV shows back then, man. ‘The Rifle Men’ and ‘Have Gun will Travel’… What little kid, growing up back then, didn’t want to be the marshal or the sheriff?”

— Nine candidates have qualified across the state for the Nov. 6 elections following training from the Louisiana chapter of Emerge, which recently planted roots in the Bayou State with the goal of putting more Democratic women in office. They are: Tammy Savoie, challenging incumbent House Majority Whip Steve Scalise for the First Congressional District seat; Teri Johnson for House District 33 (former Rep. Mike Danahay spurred a special election after being sworn in as Sulphur mayor in May); Sumer Cooner for Caddo Parish School Board; Laura McLemore for Shreveport City Council; Wanda Porter Johnson for St. Martin Parish School Board; Theresa Rohloff for Scott City Council At-Large; Michelle Charles for Jefferson Parish Juvenile District Court; Chelsey Richard Napoleon for Orleans Parish Civil District Court; and April Williams for Jefferson Parish School Board.

— Massachusetts Democrat U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond will speak at Dillard University in New Orleans on Aug. 3.

— Warren, New Jersey Democrat U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Emerge and others will be in New Orleans from Aug. 2 through 4 for the Netroots Nation Conference, the “largest annual conference for progressives.”

— The Louisiana Municipal Association 81st annual convention is July 31 through Aug. 2 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Delegate and hotel reservations are now open. REGISTER

Political tidbit? Let us know about it at news@LaPolitics.com!

Have a fundraiser or event? Send it to news@LaPolitics.com!

Career move? Political appointment? Send word to news@LaPolitics.com!


— Tuesday 07/24: Rep. Katrina Jackson, Camille Ivy-O’Donnell, William Beau Clark, Chris Bond and Silas Lee

— Wednesday 07/25: Tammy Dupuy Langlois, Shala Carlson and Taylor Smith

— Thursday 07/26: Former Rep. Jeff Arnold and Joshua G. Hollins

— Friday 07/27: Celeste White, Steve Maher and Randall T. Hayes

— Saturday 07/28: Rep. John Bagneris, Lee Schilling and Raymond Allmon

— Sunday 07/29: Former Rep. Herbert Dixon, Scarlet Callicoatte, Steven L. Windham, Diane Long, Jason F. Emert, Aidan Reynolds and Cherry Fisher May

— Monday 07/30: Rep. Tanner Magee, Adam Eitmann, Ashley Frugé, Mike Bayham and Roderick Hawkins

Birthdays, anniversaries, birth announcements, you name it. We want to know about your special day. Send those dates to news@LaPolitics.com!

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Got a hot tip? Send it to news@LaPolitics.com!

Copyright © 2018

Jeremy Alford/Louisiana Political Review

All rights reserved.

Tuesday Tracker

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Mail: Post Office Box 84779, Baton Rouge, LA 70884

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