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July 31, 2018 — Issue No. 152

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

& Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com)

(Printable PDF)


Alexander Graham Bell,

an island of Looziana legislators,

loading the Labor Day starter pistol

& other random info for this final-day-of-the-month issue


Bell, Not Bel

We know from history (and The Simpsons) that Alexander Graham Bell assumed all telephone users would begin their two-way conversations the same way he did — with a hearty "ahoy-hoy," rather than the monotonous "hello" that eventually caught on.

The Bell-endorsed greeting was extracted from the nautical term "ahoy," used to signal others from a great distance and Dutch in its etymology.

The justification for bringing this up now should be obvious. Friday and Saturday will host another CCA Legislators' Invitational Fishing Rodeo!

The way this event has been growing in popularity, we figured it would be best to introduce some nautical terms in this issue, such as "ahoy," and offer a few rodeo tips throughout. So make sure you scope out our “CCA FYI & 411” suggestions below. 

Just like we did for last year's rodeo, photos and results will be featured in a special package next week for subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly.


Bishop & Chabert & An Island

The fishing rodeo will again be held in Grand Isle and the Fourchon area, and it has the same hosts as last year, too.

That means Rep. Stuart Bishop and Sen. Norby Chabert, the chairmen of the Legislature’s natural resources committees, are the headliners, although plenty of other gavel-holders will be in lower Jeff this weekend as well.


Waiting On Labor Day

As per political tradition, the unofficial start of the fall election season this year will be Sept. 3, which is also Labor Day.

For many, many moons, consultants, candidates and reporters have pointed to Labor Day as the launching point for media buys, key messaging and hardcore maneuvering. That hasn't always been the case, though, and recent years have seen campaigns unrolling critical operations long before September.

Will this year follow the long-standing pattern, or will we see candidates with significant TV buys and aggressive outreach prior to Labor Day? If donor fatigue becomes an issue, and it may very well, the action may come sooner rather than later.


Legislative Action

Are you itching for some committee votes, policy discussions and late-starting meetings? Of course you are!

Several senators will be moving through the Capitol soon. So if upper chamber conversations are on your to-do-list, or if you’re working issues connected to Medicaid or opioids, get ready to make a Red Stick appearance.

Here’s what to look for next week:

— The Senate Health and Welfare Committee meets next Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 9:30 a.m. in the Hainkel Room to discuss Medicaid. (Reports on provider data, MMC transparency and 2016’s medical loss ratio.)

— The Finance as well as the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committees will meet jointly next Thursday in the same room at 10 a.m. Members will hear a presentation by the Justice Department on recent legislative activity on opioid abuse and a status update on a related lawsuit by the state. Lawmakers will also kick off a study process that will make recommendations for how to use money resulting from the suit.


Random Stuff That You Totally Should Know About

— NO ONE WANTS TO RUN, via The AP: "A small Louisiana town is trying to figure out what to do after no one volunteered to run for police chief. KATC-TV reports that the police chief in Palmetto, a village of about 170 people, moved out of the village, meaning he can't run for re-election. But no one threw their hat in the ring to run for the job in the recent qualifying period."

— UNION NUMBERS DOWN, via The Shreveport Times: "In Louisiana, union membership peaked at 9.4 percent [of the state’s workforce] in 1993, but like the national trend, it has been steadily declining... The union membership in Louisiana was 4.4 percent in 2017, which is the lowest it has been since 1993."

— BREES AND BALLOONS, via Fox 8: "On the first day of fan access at Saints Training Camp [Saturday], dozens of kids took part in the challenge of throwing water balloons at quarterback Drew Brees."

— NOLA BIKER LADIES, via The New York Times: "Meet New Orleans’s All-Female Biker Club... With stilettos and magenta-hued burnouts, the Caramel Curves are hard to miss on the riding scene... The group is made up of 13 women brought together by their passion for motorcycles and their desire to bike with other women like themselves. On what are known as second-line Sundays (named for the city’s brass-band-led parades in the spring), the Caramel Curves can be spotted cruising around town. The ladies wear helmets ridged with fluorescent pink mohawks and matching vests bedazzled in blingy patches and sequins. Finishing the look are Barbie-pink stilettos. Their bikes are big Suzuki Hayabusas (that they call 'busas') and Gixxers, and Can-Am Spyders, airbrushed in shades of pink, with brightly colored rims to match. And when they stunt, with curving burnouts or wheelies, their tires send off plumes of magenta-hued smoke.”

A Message From Harris, DeVille & Associates

Shintech Announces $1.49B Facility Near Plaquemine

Shintech Louisiana, LLC executives last week announced the company will invest $1.49 billion to develop a new chlor alkali and vinyl chloride monomer production facility, and expand existing polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facilities in Plaquemine.

Construction of the expansion is expected to generate 2,000 to 3,000 jobs and create 120 new direct jobs once completed. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in approximately 100 new indirect jobs, for a total of 220 new jobs for Iberville Parish and the Capital Region. Shintech has operated in the area since 1999 and currently has 420 local employees at its facilities in West Baton Rouge and Iberville Parishes, where company operations also support more than 500 contractor jobs.

PVC is a versatile and durable product used in a variety of applications in the building and construction, health care, electronics, automobile and other sectors. Caustic soda is widely used in industries and utilities. As global market for the products continue to grow, Shintech is expanding facilities to keep pace with demand. The expansion will include development of an integrated PVC manufacturing facility that is expected to be completed in late 2020 and operational in early 2021.

To view the WAFB-TV article on the expansion, click here.


The Millionaire Mythos & The Race For Governor

Is he in? 

Is he out? 

Does it matter right now? 

Even if it doesn't, the possibility of millionaire investor and political flirt Jim Bernhard buying into the 2019 ballot has supporters of Gov. John Bel Edwards buzzing. But not exactly panicking.

Let’s start with what we actually know. Last week the team over at LaPolitics.com was able to confirm the following two political tidbits (because to normal, non-political human beings, the information isn’t much more than that).

— Political Tidbit #1: Bernhard, the former chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, has been quietly considering a bid for governor.

— Political Tidbit #2: Bernhard has also been meeting with political professionals known for their conservative credentials.

All the while, the natives of Capitoland have been growing increasingly restless. Some JBE boosters have even attempted to reach out to Bernhard — through backchannels and more conventional means — to advise against the move or to simply question his motives. 

You can't blame them. The last thing Edwards supporters want is a Fortune 500 darling jumping into the race with his own money and splintering the Democratic vote. And in case you don't know much about Bernhard, yes, he can afford such an endeavor.

— Political Tidbit #3: In 1987, Bernard and two other investors founded The Shaw Group, a corporation providing construction and maintenance services to energy companies. By the time Bernhard sold Shaw in 2013, it was worth $3 billion. The sale netted Bernhard $20.4 million in cash; $15.7 million in stock, which he eventually sold for $46 million; and $18.7 million in retirement benefits. 

Interestingly, there's also a Republican clique that views Bernhard as an answer to a few of its own prayers. But friends say selling Bernhard, a resident of Baton Rouge, on a party change would be a monumental undertaking. 

For now, most of this party-related chatter seems to be speculation only. Yet it would make sense if Bernhard indeed qualified and then adopted a Trump-like campaign strategy, which is another thread of conversation that's in heavy rotation in Baton Rouge. It's likewise a strategy we've seen before.

— Political Tidbit #4: Mike Foster, himself a successful businessman before going into politics, switched parties while qualifying for governor in 1995 and ultimately winning the post. It’s a seemingly timeless model that pre-dates Bernhard’s own abandoned political bids; runs for the U.S. Senate were explored in 2004, 2008 and 2010, and the waters for governor were tested in 2007 and 2015.

Having caught word of Bernhard’s most recent exploration, there’s another handful of GOP players, wishing upon a star that he flips his party registration, who see his candidacy as a way to potentially head off U.S. Sen. John Kennedy. The state’s junior senator remains a maybe-candidate who isn’t doling out many hints, but he’s also a heavy hitter who cannot be counted out until he’s actually out.

All of this noise (meaning the speculation, and even this column) is just that, and it’s mostly noise for political nerds, dedicated election-watchers and people who utilize background information to inform their understanding and opinions. An honest read on the developing field for governor, as August 2018 is coming into focus, would be less dramatic and more predictable.

— Political Tidbit #5: With no GOP-blessed challenger from the right, and really no announced opponents at all as of late July, Edwards, a centrist Democrat, has the clear advantage as the incumbent in this Louisiana race. But you can expect a full-throated challenge in 2019 from Republican forces. Viewed broadly, these forces can be divided into three distinct camps, each with its own class of contenders, including The Establishment Camp (Sen. Kennedy and Congressman Ralph Abraham); The Wildcard Camp (state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Landry and Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President Stephen Waguespack); and The Wait-And-See Camp.

Bernhard's storyline, along with its swirling rumors and election intrigue, most certainly falls into the latter camp. 

Is he in? 

Is he out? 

Does it matter right now? 

All we can do is wait and see — an approach worth taking if you’re unimpressed with the developing field.

In some respects, Bernhard's intentions and actions aren't representative of this unfolding Bernhard storyline. The gossip-fueled narrative has taken on a life of its own as it has snaked through Louisiana's political landscape, being bent and shaped to fit the needs of Republicans who want an fresh alternative and Democrats who want to upset the status quo.

Of course, if Bernhard follows tradition, he'll avoid the ballot altogether and continue succeeding in business. In the meantime, he's an important political tidbit — not for his rumored candidacy, but rather for what it says about the delicate balance of this race for both Republicans and Democrats.


The Conspiracist Vs. The Crooner

By 1973, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison was a well-known figure outside of his jurisdiction, due largely to the legal and political rabbit hole he followed down, down, down and further down in the wake of the assassination of late President John F. Kennedy.

By that fall, trapped in the shadow of a trial gone bad, the notoriously tenacious former FBI agent was desperately fighting for his political life. Four years earlier, Garrison and his prosecutors had staged the sensational trial of Clay Shaw, a prominent New Orleans businessman, charging that he been involved in the assassination.

The Louisiana-rooted case drew international press and attention, of course, bringing Garrison to such heights as Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. As for Shaw, he was acquitted after less than an hour of jury deliberations.

Garrison himself was also on trial in 1973. Federal prosecutors accused him of taking bribes from operators of illegal pinball machines — and keeping them in business by directing the efforts of his office elsewhere. In defense, Garrison said the government was out to get him for investigating the Kennedy assassination.

When reporters questioned him at a press conference, Garrison shouted, “The Department of Justice of the U.S. government is absolutely corrupt!”

Garrison was eventually acquitted that August, after the validity of some evidence was called into question. The lengthy criminal trial had eaten up most of the district attorney’s year, and his re-election campaign would begin in earnest in just a few short weeks.

His opponent was Harry Connick Sr., a former assistant U.S. Attorney who also moonlighted as a singer in the Crescent City. His son, Harry Connick Jr., then an aspiring musician, performed at his father’s campaign events. The candidate struck a memorable tone as well, calling the six-foot-six Garrison a “moral midget.”

It was Connick’s second race against Garrison, having last lost at the polls in 1969. But in the four years since, the incumbent’s political stock had plummeted. Even after Garrison was acquitted of bribery charges, many still seriously questioned his ethics.

Polls showed that most locals viewed Shaw’s trial as nothing more than a publicity stunt funded by their tax dollars. Both of the city’s newspapers, The Times-Picayune and The States-Item, endorsed Connick. Plus, Shaw had an extensive network of friends in the city’s business community, almost all of whom were happy to open their checkbooks to defeat Garrison.

After outspending Garrison by a wide margin, Connick narrowly defeated him on election day by less than 2,500 votes. Dejected, Garrison filed suit against Connick, alleging that voter fraud was responsible for his electoral loss.

The lawsuit, like the petitioner, was defeated. Connick would go on to hold the seat for another 30 years.

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

— The hottest chatter (Gossip?) in the race for governor

— Almost everything you need to know about Jim Bernhard

— Robocall regulations being reviewed in other states

— Acadian Ambulance coming to Ouachita Parish

— Why John Bel Edwards won't thump Donald Trump

— ACLU monitoring officials on social media

— An update on Senate District 26

Clancy DuBos kicks off our "Field Notes”

John Kennedy takes over "They Said It”

— Plus much 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

Tax Deferral, Not Tax Exemption

Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program incentivizes companies to invest in the state and provides jobs and economic input to our local communities. In turn, under the current rules, Louisiana invests in these companies by providing full property tax exemptions for one five-year term and the option to renew for up to three additional years with up to an 80-percent exemption.

According to noted economist Dr. Loren Scott, when those contracts run out, heavy ITEP-parishes will experience an increase of newly taxable chemical properties. During the next four years, for example, Iberville Parish will see nearly $4.3 billion in chemical industry investments come onto the tax rolls. Cameron Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish will each see bumps of more than $1.8 billion per parish. In total, parishes across Louisiana will receive tax revenues from nearly $14.6 billion in chemical industry investments during this time.

Providing incentives like ITEP helps businesses choose Louisiana. While they are receiving the benefit of ITEP, these companies are employing our neighbors, eating at our restaurants and contracting with Louisiana-based small businesses. Once the ITEP contract is over, local communities will see a rise in tax revenue that helps to support services like teacher salaries, law enforcement and public transportation.

That is why, according to Dr. Scott, the program could actually be called a tax deferral program instead of a tax exemption program.


The Advocate: “Animal welfare advocates aren't happy about the Tiger Truck Stop's recent acquisition of a camel and baby coati, but state lawmakers, Iberville Parish officials and the village's mayor say they are staying out of the fight.” (The coati is a member of the raccoon family. This particular coati, pictured above, is named Cody.)

The News-Star: “Another guard has been been arrested at Louisiana's most notorious prison in Angola, this time accused of smuggling drugs hidden in a Subway sandwich.”

— Gov. John Bel Edwards is in Shreveport today for a roundtable with local business leaders to talk about the outcomes of the session-palooza and the state economy.

— The U.S. Senate will vote today on another four-month reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires today.

— Congressional Aide Michael Willis’ BAD JOKE OF THE WEEK: “Why don't teddy bears get hungry? Because they are stuffed!”

— LABI President Stephen Waguespack’s latest: “Voters want to believe in something, but spin and sound bites won’t cut it anymore. They want a plan. They want a promise. They want a contract. It’s time to give them one.”

AP: “In small Louisiana village, no one wants to be police chief”

AP again: “Louisiana health and legal officials have failed to properly manage a fund that pays for investigations and prosecutions of health care providers accused of bilking the state Medicaid program, according to an audit released Monday, the latest of several reports criticizing Medicaid oversight.”

POLITICO: “House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is planning on moving up in the House GOP leadership if possible, is also very busy in August, despite the fact that he is still recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound last year. Scalise will be holding more than 30 fundraisers and political events during the recess. The Louisiana Republican will be traveling throughout the Southeast, in addition to events in Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, New York and Colorado.”

— ICYMI in NYTimes: “BP has effectively declared that it has recovered from the Gulf of Mexico disaster. The London-based energy giant said late Thursday that it would buy an enormous portfolio covering 470,000 acres of shale oil and gas properties in Texas and Louisiana from BHP Billiton of Australia.”

WalletHub: Louisiana’s school systems rank second worst in the nation, trouncing only New Mexico.

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 07/31: Acting Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Don Cravins Jr., Rodney Mallett, Julio Melara, Jimmy Lagarde and Barrett Murphy

— Wednesday 08/01: J Hudson, Sarah Louise Gaudet, Brad Lambert, Caroline Moses Spouse, and Rannah Gray

— Thursday 08/02: Talmadge Singer and Daniel Holliday

— Friday 08/03: Sen. Dan Claitor, Cher Taffaro Nungesser, Sidney Coffee, Roger Bergeron, Trae Welch and Garrett Monti

— Saturday 08/04: Former Jefferson Parish President John Young, Sara Landreneau Kleinpeter, William Broussard and John Binder

— Sunday 08/05: East Carroll Police Jury President Lee Denny, Cole Avery, Ty Bromell, Melissa Mann, Gary Wordlaw, Justin Centanni and Julie Baxter Payer

— Monday 08/06: Former Sen. Ed Murray and KATC’s Letitia Walker

— WHO WE MISSED: Adam Haddox (July 29)


 — Kim Carver and his wife Kristyn will celebrate 20 years together tomorrow.

— Sen. Wesley Bishop and his wife, Judge Shannon Bruno Bishop, notched 12 years of wedded bliss this weekend. (July 29)

— Former Gov. Edwin Edwards and his wife Trina reached year number five this weekend. (July 29)

— Rep. Clay Schexnayder and his wife Phoebe toasted to an anniversary as well on Saturday. (July 28)

— WHO WE MISSED: Ryan Gatti and his wife, Susan, marked 22 years of marriage this month! (July 20)


Elizabeth Gibbs Lagarde was born at 6:15 a.m. on Friday morning at a whopping 5 lbs, 1 oz and 19 inches. Welcome to the world, Elizabeth, and welcome to parenthood, Patricia and Jean-Paul!

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

Have a friend who should be reading The Tracker? Have them sign up here.

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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