The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

October 23, 2018 — Issue No. 162

By Mitch Rabalais (mitch@lapolitics.com)

& Jeremy Alford (jja@lapolitics.com)


SO SAYETH THE LOUISIANA KENNEDY

The junior senator speaks (sorta)

Plus Abraham buying big

A bare-bones memo from the home team

TO: All the Trackers out there

FR: LaPolitics HQ

RE: Fear & loathing on the 2019 gubernatorial campaign trail

DA: See above

It’s happening again. Movement in the governor’s race that matters. Here’s the down-low, lowdown download:

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has announced he will make an announcement prior to Dec. 1. While it might seem like an aggressive form of foreplay, it just means Kennedy is in. Don’t take your eyes off of him for a second.

— Kennedy also released an internal poll. The USA Today Network carried the poll in its story. The Associated Press story did not.

— Gov. John Bel Edwards and businessman and education advocate Eddie Rispone are both still candidates… As you surely know. For the latest on their campaigns (if you care about this race, you’ll care about these stories), look to Thursday’s edition of LaPolitics Weekly.

— Source close to Congressman Ralph Abraham: “Doesn’t change anything on our end. We’ll decide whether or not to make the race after midterms.”

— Abraham is out this week with his re-election media buy. His ad, which is largely a biographical spot, will be playing in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Alexandria and Monroe. While the ad is for the congressman’s bid for a third term in the House, it definitely leaves the door open to a run for governor next year.

— Media consultant Lionel Rainey III said, “Congressman Abraham has an incredible bio and an incredible story to tell. We’re excited to have the chance to tell it.”


A Message From Harris, DeVille & Associates

50 YEARS OF COMMUNITY COMMITMENT

NOVA ESTABLISHES NEW SCHOLARSHIP

Those pictured with the NOVA Chemicals Day resolution during the Ascension Parish Council Meeting include (left to right) Council member John Cagnolatti, Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa, Geismar Olefins Integration and Change Leader Scott Kay, Geismar Olefins Maintenance Manager Thomas Cannon, and Council members Randy Clouatre and Todd Lambert.

On October 23, 2018, at ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Geismar Olefins facility, HDA client NOVA Chemicals Corporation (“NOVA Chemicals”) announced the establishment of a $50,000 endowed scholarship at River Parishes Community College. The scholarship will support local students pursuing degrees in process technology (PTEC), instrumentation and electrical studies.

NOVA Chemicals acquired the Geismar Olefins facility in 2017.The facility began operations in 1967 with start-up and first ethylene production in 1968.Today, the company employs 130 people in the production of ethylene, polymer grade propylene and various co-products. The establishment of an endowed scholarship at RPCC is part of the NOVA Chemicals’ commitment to being a socially responsible neighbor and to supporting area science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education.

“The chemical industry is critical to the state’s economy in terms of dollars and jobs. The commitment that NOVA Chemicals has made here today to RPCC is another example of how facilities such as NOVA contribute to our state’s economic health now, as well as into our future,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. The Lieutenant Governor was the featured speaker at the anniversary event.

In recognition of the milestone, the Ascension Parish Council and its president also proclaimed October 23 as “NOVA Chemicals Day” in the parish. He presented NOVA Chemicals representatives with a plaque commemorating the occasion during a meeting of the parish council earlier in October. 


Political Ads Changing Channels

JJA on the future of TV and other media trends

Let’s turn our attention for a moment to some political news.

A study conducted by Iowa State University has confirmed what many of us already believed to be true. The study found that the candidates who spent the most cash on television leading up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses received more votes than their thrifty, TV-free competitors.

Well, who could have guessed…

*CLICK*

If you’re just tuning in, we’re reviewing ad spending in battleground states.

During an election cycle that's hot enough to melt snow, Minnesota candidates have spent $22 million this year on 171,000 TV ads, while political action committees have dropped $49 million on 164,000 ads.

If you were to watch all of those ads back to back it would take you…

*CLICK*

Right. I understand your point, but just let me finish! Can I get a word in here?!?

Thank you.

No matter how you slice and dice it, there are more ads popping up from a variety of sources. The current 2018 election cycle has produced more than 2 million congressional and gubernatorial ads valued at $1 billion, which is a 70 percent increase compared to the 2014 midterms.

Now if you dive deep into those spending trends you’ll see that…

*CLICK*

Hey. I get it.

There’s nothing sexy about political ad spending. But if you keep changing channels, you’ll never get the full story.

Yes, there’s still a ton of cash being pushed around to get political messages on television, and it can be beneficial to candidates, as evidenced by the Iowa State University study. But that doesn’t mean a win can simply be purchased, according to the academic team that was charged with conducting the study.

“We think political advertising is all-powerful, but it’s not,” said Jay Newell, an associate professor of advertising in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. “Candidates who buy the most ads tend to get the most votes, but that could be drawing conclusions from coincidence. Those leading in the polls get more resources. So the additional advertising being purchased is essentially insurance and not as much to move the meter.”

And yes, the media buys in Minnesota look impressive, but the snowy battleground state is an outlier in terms of media trends nationally. While a new report by the Wesleyan Media Project and the Center for Responsive Politics found more midterm ads than ever are being aired this cycle across the nation, it’s not exactly what you think.

“Part of the reason for the increased volume this year may be that the cost of broadcast TV advertising is down,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. “Dollars spent on TV stretch further this year, and the consequence is that Americans are seeing many more ads than in 2014 at this same point.”

So what’s going on? Why is TV so cheap right now? Why are university-backed studies question the value of TV?

For the first time in recorded political history, spending on online ads has topped the landmark figure of $100 billion. According to a study commissioned by Bloomberg News, digital ad sales now constitute over half of the American advertising market.

Bloomberg’s findings show that spending on traditional TV media, both nationally and locally, has dramatically decreased over the last few years. This change in the advertising industry begs a question or two. Will we soon see an exodus of TV-based political ads in Louisiana as more messaging travels into cyberspace? Is this the beginning of the end for the traditional 30-second spot?

The Bloomberg study points out that television audiences themselves are shrinking, with more people opting out of traditional TV services for internet streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. Political advertising has started to seep into some of those online platforms, but it’s far behind the saturation that remains on traditional TV and radio.

"If I’m doing a campaign on the I-10/I-12 corridor, then I’m spending more on digital. But if I’m trying to reach voters in a place such as Vernon Parish or Webster Parish, I’m sticking with TV,” consultant James Hartman told LaPolitics’ Mitch Rabalais in an interview. "TV is still the most effective way to reach people, but it all depends on the area and the race."

Change, however, is inevitable, particularly for a medium that Louisiana politicians were already mastering more than six decades ago. During his 1956 gubernatorial campaign, Earl K. Long purchased hour-long blocks of airtime to articulate his platform to voters. While modern audiences enjoy watching the archived footage of Uncle Earl, it’s obvious that the tactic is dated.

Then again, even Uncle Earl would have a difficult time surviving the mud-fests that pass for advertising campaigns these days. And until voters start changing politicians like they do channels, things will likely stay that way — only the revolution won’t be televised. Rather, the revolution will be Netflixed and Facebooked.


YOUR POLITICAL HISTORY

Jimmie Davis’ St. James Sunshine

& the Birth of “the Bridge to Nowhere”

Last week in the Tuesday Tracker, we mistakenly placed the Sunshine Bridge in Ascension Parish, instead of St. James Parish, its correct location. While drafting the correction this week, we realized that we just couldn't pass up this opportunity to recount the colorful political history of this iconic structure.

As the name suggests, the Sunshine Bridge was the brainchild of late Gov. Jimmie Davis, the Bayou State governor who moonlighted as a country and western singer. In fact, Davis’ classic hit, “You Are My Sunshine,” is one of the top selling songs of all time.

In 1960, Davis put music aside and returned to the Governor’s Mansion for a second term. Once back in office, he began pushing for a solution to a glaring need he had noticed while campaigning.

In South Louisiana, you could only cross the Mississippi River on the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish and its’ twin in Baton Rouge. The nearly eighty mile gap was a major problem, especially when the state was trying to lure business to the River Parishes and the Acadiana region. “We couldn’t get industry to locate on the west side of the river until we had a bridge,” Davis later recalled.

The Sunshine Governor gave the green light for the project, and sent his engineers out to work. After considering their options, the highway department picked a prime spot on the Ascension/St. James parish line, nearly halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

There was only one problem — there were no connecting roads even close to where the bridge was going to be located. According to The Advocate’s coverage at the time, the bridge started in a cane field and ended in a swamp. Lawmakers opposed to the project started calling it “the bridge to nowhere.”

Despite the less than promising prospects, the governor pushed through the $30 million appropriation through the Legislature. According to You Are My Sunshine, a biography of Davis  by Gus Weill, as the project neared completion, floor leaders wanted to name the new bridge after the governor, as Long had done before. Because existing law prevented them from directly naming the structure after a living person, they adopted the “Sunshine” moniker instead as a tribute to Davis.

When a reporter asked the governor what he thought about the new bridge’s name, Davis played coy. He claimed to not know the specifics but added, “I think its’ because the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.”


THE TRACKER Q&A

A conversation with Congressman Ralph Abraham

LaPolitics Deputy Editor Mitch Rabalais: As a conferee on the Farm Bill, you have been directly involved in the negotiations around the bill. What, in your opinion, is the biggest impasse that is preventing passage of this legislation?

Congressman Ralph Abraham: We passed it on the House side and there was of course, some controversy on the work requirements for SNAP. As you know, I’m a big advocate of people that can work need to work. We certainly want to take care of those who are disabled, we want to take care of those who are pregnant and certainly the children. But those who are in that 59 to 18 year old age group, that have none of those physical or mental disabilities or don’t fall into any one of those categories, I want them to work a little bit. We’re not asking them to work a lot. If they can’t find that good job, we’re going to give them money to help train for that good job. So that was one of the things on the House side that we were butting heads with the Democrats on but we prevailed. Now, it’s over on the Senate side now and unfortunately you have one or two members on the Democrats side blocking the Farm Bill simply because they think that with Congress returning after the elections, that the Democrats are going to control the Senate. That’s not going to happen, so I do have a problem when you have one member that is able to stall a very good bill for the rest of America.

MJR: You said it yourself, you are a big advocate for these work requirements. This is something that Republicans as a whole are very much for, and we’ve seen the White House and President Donald Trump get behind this. Are the work requirements a deal breaker for Republicans?

RLA: Well, no, not at all. Look, I mean everything is on the table. But not only are Republicans for these work requirements, if you poll any group, including Democrats, you get over 80 percent favorable polling on this one particular issue. Look, we all want to help those that need the help. I certainly don’t mind my tax dollars going for those who have true food insecurity. I don’t want anybody in America to be hungry, but at the same time, those that are gaming the system and those that can work that are not working, they need to go to work. We have over seven million living wage, not minimum wage, jobs that we can’t fill right now because this economy is so good. And as I said, if they don’t have the education or the training to get that good job, in this particular Farm Bill, we are going to allow them to go and get that training on the taxpayers’ money and hopefully get that good job. So it’s a win-win, as I call it in my arena, an on-ramp to success. Everybody who needs a job should be able to get a job. Everybody that can work, needs to work.

MJR: Something else you mentioned is the timetable on the Farm Bill. Some are thinking that this is going to happen when Congress comes back. In your opinion, is this something that will be handled in December, or are we going to have to wait until new members take office in January?

RLA: I think what will happen — we’re going to keep the House and we’re going to keep the Senate - that is certainly my prediction. Sometime between the election and the first of the year, I think we will get this Farm Bill voted on, on the Senate side. They’re going to pass it over there, it will come back to us in the House as what we call a “conferee bill” and we’ll get it to the president’s desk. The president has said that he wants to sign this bill. This is a good bill, not only for our young farmers, it’s a great bill for conservation programs, it’s a great bill for giving our farmers a safety net. Right now, we’re into a soybean crisis because we don’t have anywhere to store soybeans and unfortunately, because it’s been such a wet harvest season, a lot of these are damaged soybeans. So this Farm Bill is a win-win for our farmers. I guess if there is any light at the end of the tunnel, as far as some of these programs expiring, those that are supported by the Democrats are going to run out of money before those that are supported by the Republicans are going to run out of money on this current Farm Bill. Right now, we’re working under the 2014 Farm Bill. So like it or not, the Democrats are going to have to come to the table to get this thing done. But I do predict with us holding the Senate on the Republican side, you will see this happen very quickly when we return after the elections.

MJR: I want to go back to the soybean farmers for a minute. This is something that we have heard a lot about recently. We recently saw (U.S. Agriculture) Secretary Purdue come down to Louisiana, and you’ve introduced some legislation to offer assistance to the farmers. Do you believe that we will see some federal dollars coming to assist them in the near future? 

RLA: Well, we have to. Right now, what we call the MFP, the Market Facilitation Program that was allowed by Secretary Purdue from the USDA, the way that is structured now, those soybean farmers actually have to get and harvest those soybeans out of the field. Again, that’s almost impossible now for two reasons; one, it’s too wet to cut the soybeans and secondly if they do, we don’t have an elevator that has any room to take the beans. Now, saying all that, we’ve got to help these farmers at least be bankable when they go back to borrow money next year. If we don’t, they go bankrupt. It’s bad for everybody in America when we can’t supply the soybeans that we need to supply for our nation and the world.

MJR: You’ve expressed interest in running for governor, and you’ve said that you are looking at the race. With these big ticket legislative items on your plate, how does that effect your thinking about the governor’s race?

RLA: Well, it effects it a lot. My passion is military and agriculture and those are two things right now on the national front are two things that are on the front burner. Luckily, we’ve given a lot of money to our military in this year coming up, Fiscal Year 19, to plus up our troops and plus up our equipment because we have threats on just about every level that you can look at. On the agricultural side, just as we have been talking, we’ve got some issues that we must get resolved for these farmers to be survivable for another year. So does that impact my thinking? You bet it does. I’m not going to leave these people high and dry, you know, holding these things. I’m going to help them get over that. Now, looking forward down the road, we don’t know yet what decision we’re going to make. We’ve got to get through this election, we’ve got to get through this agriculture crisis and then, and only then, will I look down the road to see what I might be further down.


WHAT YOU MISSED IN THE WEEKLY

— A special #lalege edition

— Who’s in and who’s out in more that two dozen legislative races

— Will Alario and Thompson lead former colleagues back into the House?

— Capitol comebacks possible for Stephen Gunn, Tim Burns and Randy Roach

— All in the Family

— Rep. Julie Stokes’ campaign for SOS leads off our “Field Notes!” segment

— A lot about Cajuns drinking beer in our “They Said It” feature

— Plus more!


POLITICAL CHATTER

— Both U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy joined bi-partisan a group of senators, pushing for harder regulations against Vietnamese catfish processors threatening the fishing industry in Southern states. The group sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pushing for his department to enforce existing seafood processing rules in place. (THE LETTER)

— Congressional aide Michael Willis’ BAD JOKE OF THE WEEK: “What is the difference between a poorly dressed man on a tricycle and a well dressed man on a bicycle? Attire!”

— Attorney General Jeff Landry has drawn the ire of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Twitter. Schumer, who has undertaken a social media campaign against all attorneys general suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act, said that Landry was “trying to gut protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions through the courts.”

— PAGING ROBERT MUELLER: James Carville, the noted political strategist who now teaches at LSU, has a new op-ed out questioning possible collusion between SEC officials and the University of Alabama. Carville’s comments have been echoed by both Gov. John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry.

@MelindaDeslatte: “Dispute about Louisiana college admissions criteria escalates, after LSU President F. King Alexander challenges Board of Regents' authority and @LouisianaGov backs Regents”

— The Times-Pic: “Fantasy sports betting companies have launched a political advertising campaign to try to get daily online fantasy sports games legalized in Louisiana. Voters will have a chance to allow online fantasy sports apps, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, through a proposition appearing on the Nov. 6 ballot.”


A Message From Harris, DeVille & Associates

THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY

The Key to Louisiana’s Economy

The chemical industry is the no. 1 provider of jobs in Louisiana’s manufacturing sector, supports more than $79.7 billion in annual sales for businesses in our state and contributes more than $1.1 billion yearly to the Louisiana treasury, according to a report conducted by noted economist Dr. Loren Scott.

Employing more than 29,000 people with an average salary of $106,600, the industry is one of the best-paying, most reliable employers in Louisiana. However, it’s widespread effect on the job market doesn’t stop there. For every job created in the industry, an additional 8.3 jobs are created in other sectors – these are small business owners, contract workers and other occupations integral to our state.

With this type of footprint, it’s clear that the chemical industry is the key to Louisiana’s economic success and future growth. We need to encourage investments so that our businesses, communities and workforce can continue to thrive.

To follow the Louisiana Chemical Association on Facebook, please visit: www.facebook.com/LAChemicals/


HBD TRACKERS!

— Tuesday, 10/23: Former Sen. Ben Nevers, Hayden Haynes, Ann Silverberg Williamson and Wendy Waren

— Wednesday, 10/24: Sen. Wesley Bishop

— Thursday, 10/25: James Carville, Preston Robinson, Elizabeth Crisp, Rodney Hyatt, Alisha Prather and Kevin Morgan

— Friday, 10/26: Sen. Troy Carter, former Sen. Julie Quinn, Katherine Mosely Smith, Burton Guidry, Korey Ryder, Kelly Connelly Spires and Tyler Bridges

— Saturday, 10/27: John Paul Funes and Ayn Stehr

— Sunday, 10/28: Chad Olivier

— Monday, 10/29: Sen. Francis Thompson, Rep. Steve Carter and Bryan Jeansonne


Copyright © 2018
Jeremy Alford/Louisiana Political Review
All rights reserved.
Tuesday Tracker
Web: www.LaPolitics.com
Email: JJA@LaPolitics.com
Phone: 225-772-2518
Mail: Post Office Box 44511, Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Fax: 225-612-6408
Twitter: @LaPoliticsNow
Facebook: Maginnis-Alford

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