The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

November 27, 2018 — Issue No. 166

By: Mitch Rabalais (mitch@lapolitics.com) and Jeremy Alford (jja@lapolitics.com)


UNWRAPPING LOUISIANA’S XMAS POLITICS

Forget about Santa & the Grinch.

We’re all watching JBE & Eddie,

& waiting on JNK & Doc.

Politicos are filled with the spirit of the holidays in Baton Rouge, particularly off of Interstate 110, just down Capitol Access Road at the Governor’s Mansion. That’s where the Christmas trees and garland are being pulled out of storage in an effort to spread December cheer and prepare for Gov. John Bel Edwards’ annual red and green get-togethers.

Despite the festive environment, the governor’s mind has probably already skipped over the holiday season and is plunged directly into the 2019 election cycle. But before we even get to open presents, we’ll get some kind of political gift from U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, who’s poised to be JBE’s Grinch this Christmas. Is he running? Is he out? We should know in a matter of days, possibly Thursday or, more likely, Friday.

Should Kennedy run, don’t expect too big of a splash. The developing trend, specifically among conservative candidates it seems, has been to announce via email or video. Sometimes a larger, more formal announcement is held during the actual campaign cycle. (As LaPolitics Weekly subscribers learned in August, Kennedy’s media consultant, Fred Davis, has spent the past few months working on ads for 2019. Just in case. “My gut feels he’s pretty serious,” Davis said a couple months ago.) 

When Kennedy released his last poll on the governor’s race, he set an announcement deadline for himself of Dec. 1, which means we’ll know by Saturday if he’s officially in or not. While Kennedy’s staff acknowledged that their boss will be spending the majority of this week in Washington, he is expected to return to the Bayou State before Friday.

Both Attorney General Jeff Landry and LABI President Stephen Waguespack, meanwhile, have already declared their intentions to NOT run. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be hearing from them again. Gator and Wags, and their respective election operations, will a notable impact on next year’s cycle.

Kennedy’s entrance could knock a few more ornaments (read: candidates) off the election tree, but not to be counted out quite yet is Congressman Ralph Abraham. During his November re-election campaign, Doc waded into the gubernatorial waters with a sizable media buy that covered most of the state and several regions not in his district. But you should probably anticipate an announcement later than sooner. He’ll have his hands full on Capitol Hill over the next few weeks as he helps oversee the passage of the Farm Bill and a sprinkling of other minor ag legislation.

As for actual campaign activity, Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone went live with his campaign website over the Thanksgiving break. Rispone’s digital launch also included the campaign’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.


A Message From Harris, DeVille & Associates

HDA and the Louisiana Chemical Association Salute Veterans Everywhere

This is a belated tribute to not only the brave men and women who have fought to preserve our way of life, but it is also a tribute to the men and women on the homefront who assisted in their victories. Many Louisianians do not realize the significant role that our state played in helping win World War II. Out of that era also came the emergence of the Louisiana chemical industry. Sit back, relax and click here to watch Heroes on the Homefront.


The LaPOLITICS Q&A

With Congressman Mike Johnson,

the House freshman who snagged a gavel

LaPolitics (MJR): You’re someone who has a keen interest in the nuts and bolts of policy, going back to your days in the Legislature and even earlier than that. How does this interest in policy fit into your new role as chairman of the Republican Study Committee?

Congressman Mike Johnson: Well, let me just tell you what I have said to all my colleagues over the last few months as I campaigned for this position. I said that I really feel like in the 116th Congress, which starts in January, I think RSC will arguably have the most important moments in its history to provide a steady voice and what’s always been known as the intellectual firepower to defend and advance our core conservative principles. I think the American people need and deserve our clarity and our conviction and our consistency now more than ever. So my background in policy and law, in writing law and defending it in courts, advancing messaging for the conservative cause, I think all of that comes into play and will really come in handy in this position. Obviously, I think my colleagues recognized that, and that’s why we got elected to the position. It was a bit unusual, I think, for a freshman to run for chairman, but I guess my background really leant itself to this position. We’re looking forward to it.

LaPolitics: Some of your predecessors in this new position have included Vice President Mike Pence, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Congressman Jim Jordan and former DHS Secretary Tom Price. Have you heard from some of your predecessors and, if so, what kind of advice and insight have they been offering?

Johnson: I sought that out, of course. Many of those former chairmen are close friends and confidants of mine already. Jim Jordan is a very close friend of mine in Congress and, of course, Steve Scalise and I go back a quarter century. It’s good to have close friendships and advisors like that. I have already spent time with several of those guys, sort of grilling them on their thoughts and ideas. We’re entering unchartered waters in so many ways. It’s just a very unusual time in our national politics. You know, the culture is divided, our politics are divided and increasingly divisive. Of course, we’re moving into the minority position, so it changes the role of what we do, and in some ways the strategy about what we do as Republicans in the Congress. So it’s good to bounce ideas and thoughts by people like that. We’re all working on the same goals and it’s good to have close allies who have done it before, so that I don’t have to re-invent the wheel on everything.

LaPolitics: Two big-ticket items for Louisiana, the flood insurance extension and the Farm Bill, are on the table before the 115th Congress wraps up business. Are you confident that both of these measures will get resolved before the term ends?

Johnson: I certainly am. Obviously, it’s critically important to Louisiana that we get both of those items accomplished. You know, with the Farm Bill, the conferees from the House and Senate are currently debating discrepancies between the House and Senate bills still. I think it’s held up, on a couple of big provisions, primarily in the House bill. We added work requirements for SNAP benefits for able bodied adults. We’re trying to repeal the Waters of the U.S. legislation from the Obama Administration era. One of the hangups right now is the forestry regulation and wildfire prevention, which is a big issue. I think that the conferees will be able to work through those things and they’ll put together a final bill that meets all the criteria that all of us have demanded and fought for. With the flood insurance program, I do think that an extension will be voted on before Nov. 30, that’s the deadline that we have to meet so the coverage doesn’t lapse. But we’ve been working on a long-term reauthorization and that’s desperately needed, because we have got to provide certainty for individuals who want to buy or sell or build a home or business. We filed in a bill in 2017, the SAFE Reauthorization Act, which would have given a long-term reauthorization of six years and protect policyholders from excessive rate hikes and the rest. So this is some important provisions, there is a lot of dialog, there is a lot of negotiations still going about the long-term fix, but I’m very confident that we will get a temporary reauthorization before Nov. 30 so nobody is left hanging on it.


MJR: THE BELTWAY BEAT

Last-minute bills & the politics of the next term

are hogging all of the attention in Washington

This week, Congress comes back to work after its Thanksgiving break. The nation’s lawmakers are trying to get their last few pieces of legislation through before the calendar reaches the end of this term.

The most pressing issue for both the House and Senate is obtaining passage of a continuing resolution which would keep the federal government funded past Dec. 7. In addition, President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is expected to be debated, and an extension of the flood insurance program and the Farm Bill are both still on the table as well.

— The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Reform Act, a bill by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, is expected to be heard by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources’ Energy Subcommittee Thursday. The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Energy to lease unused oil storage space in two Louisiana sites to private industry and foreign governments.

— While U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is expected to return to Louisiana Saturday or before to announce his decision on the 2019 gubernatorial race, he will be spending the majority of his week in Washington. With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanting to get as many judicial nominees as possible through before adjournment, Kennedy’s work with the Senate Judiciary Committee will be a major focus for him over the next few weeks.

— House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will be working both chambers, as well as both sides of its aisles, this week while trying to broker a compromise on an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. Congress must get a bill on President Trump’s desk before the program expires on Friday.

— Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond’s name will be mentioned quite a lot this week as House Democrats elect their new leaders. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to shake up her team as the party transitions into the majority. That means that the New Orleans rep could be in line for a plum post, but even if he doesn’t get a shiny gavel, big office or new title, Richmond will nevertheless be a mover and shaker in the new regime in the lower chamber.

— Congressman Ralph Abraham has filed legislation to bring relief to soybean farmers negatively effected by both bad weather and tariffs. Abraham’s bill would amend the existing formula used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture when calculating financial assistance for soybean farmers under their Market Facilitation Program. Abraham’s change would allow the farmers to receive assistance based on “planted acres” of crops instead of “harvested acres.”


JJA: A PRE-RUNOFF LOOK AT THE 2018 PRIMARY

Law enforcement candidates are dropping party affiliations

With roughly a week or so to go until Louisiana voters weigh in on our Dec. 8 runoff ballots, let’s take a quick look back at the November primary results to better understand what we’ll be walking into to kick off the Christmas season.

If you’re in a parish with law enforcement-related races pending, you may want to pay particular attention to the party affiliations of those candidates. There could be a notable trend building. For example, in the primary race for sheriff in St. Mary Parish, three of the top four finishers held no party affiliations, including one of the runoff contenders. The second round pits Scott Anslum (no party/34 percent) against Blaise W. Smith (Democrat/23 percent). In the state's other 2018 race for sheriff in DeSoto Parish, Jayson Richardson (no party/62 percent) beat out Gary Hobbs (Independent/38 percent).

These races don't exactly make for a trend, but local officials do seem to be dropping party labels at an accelerated rate. While this could be particularly important to watch among the ranks of sheriffs, a few police chief runoffs, such as those in Acadia, Bienville and other parishes, feature a handful of no party candidates. 

Noticeably absent from the December runoff ballot will be constitutional amendments. There were six on the primary ballot, and all passed with margins ranging from 56 percent to 72 percent. If you’re a supporter of another constitutional convention, then there's some relatively bad news in those results. As long as the voting public is content with incrementally crafting fundamental law via amendments, momentum will be difficult to build. (The 1973 con-con caught fire three years earlier when voters rejected all 53 amendments that appeared on a single ballot.)

With minimal deviations, voters also apparently lost interest in actually voting the further down the ballot they went. The constitutional amendments served as another reminded of this sad trend. There were 1.46 million votes cast for the first amendment, then 1.45 million for the second, and further along the fifth and sixth amendments listed notched 1.41 million and 1.40 million votes, respectively. 

Likewise missing from the December runoff ballot will be congressional races, thanks to a clean sweep of wins by the Bayou State delegation. Here are some takeaways:

— No one received more votes (192,526) in a Louisiana congressional race this cycle than U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

— Congressman Garret Graves can bring in a crowd, as evidenced by the 53.2 percent turnout in the 6th District. When compared to Louisiana’s five other seats in the House, it had the highest level of voter engagement.

— Congressman Clay Higgins has his foothold in the 3rd District. He karate-chopped six opponents in the primary with 56 percent of the vote. (A couple of the challengers had money, and one attempted to benefit from his connections to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who recorded robocalls.)

Ryan Trundle is a north Louisiana Democrat who you've probably never heard of. But he does hold the distinction of receiving the most votes in a Louisiana congressional race this cycle for a non-incumbent. Trundle notched 72,923 votes in the 4th District. So who is he? Trundle is a Shreveport resident and an environmental activist. He also worked on the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

As for the Louisiana Legislature and it’s never-ending supply of special elections, it’s now down to one for this calendar year. The last contest of 2018 is taking place in House District 90 in St. Tammany Parish. First-place Republican Mary DuBuisson has advanced to the second round against preacher and reality TV personality John Raymond. Democrat Sean Morrison was squeezed out of the runoff by five votes, and could become a major factor.

The only statewide race of the year is also the marquee race of the runoff cycle. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, is trying to keep hold of his job against a challenge from Democrat, "Gwen" Collins-Greenup. In eight parishes, this matchup for secretary of state is the only race on the ballot. Another nine parishes have the SOS election on their ballots as well, alongside a limited number of propositions.

But that doesn’t mean turnout should suffer. The remaining parishes have all of the proverbial bells and whistles on their ballots, from the secretary of state race to local elections. Plus, early voting is already underway — it convened last week, on Nov. 24, and concludes Saturday, Dec. 1. You also have until Tuesday, Dec. 4, to request a mail ballot. So vote! Fill out a ballot or two. (Just kidding. Please vote only once.)

Interest should be high for our December runoffs, even if turnout fails to top the 50.8 percent engagement rate from the November primary. I’d love nothing more, however, than to be proven wrong on that assumption.


POLITICAL HISTORY

When Coozan Dud Met The Pope

In the wild world of Looziana politics, there has never been, and probably never will be, a character quite like Dudley Joseph LeBlanc, Sr., who late Gov. Earl K. Long claimed could never be bought — only rented.

Vermilion Parish’s favorite son, or rather cousin, was known back home as “Coozan Dud.” But across the country in the 1940s and 1950s, he was pop-culture famous for his supposedly magical medical elixir, Hadacol, which was promised to cure any and all ailments. Hadacol’s alcohol content, however, was the real selling point.

To say that LeBlanc was an expert promoter for his product would be an understatement. Writing about the wily Cajun in 1951, Time magazine called him “a stem-winding salesman who knows every razzle-dazzle switch in the pitchman's trade.”

LeBlanc also had a political life. He served in both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature, was a member of the Public Service Commission and ran for governor three times. He was a funny and dynamic speaker — in both French and English — with a talent to hold an audience spellbound. If you wanted to run for statewide office in Louisiana in the middle of the 20th Century, you had to go through LeBlanc to buy into the Acadiana region.

It was during the 1960’s that LeBlanc, then a state senator, decided to run again for his old seat on the PSC. While fundraising was not a problem, Coozan Dud desperately needed fresh endorsements and new support behind his campaign.

Hat in hand, he went to the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge to ask then-Gov. John McKeithen for an endorsement. “Big John,” however, found his hands politically tied in the race. Both LeBlanc and his opponent, incumbent Ernest Clements, had been major supporters of McKeithen. The governor didn’t want to take a chance on making an enemy out of either one.

LeBlanc, after being told that an endorsement was impossible, instead asked McKeithen for a favor. Could the governor arrange for him to have an audience with Pope Paul VI in Rome?

McKeithen tasked his top aide, Gus Weill, with the job of getting Coozan Dud a meeting with the pope. In his book, The Weill Side of Louisiana Politics, Weill recalls McKeithen telling him, “I can’t do it, I’m a Methodist.”

Flipping though the governor’s rolodex, Weill put in a call to Cardinal John Cody in Chicago. The cardinal, who had perviously been archbishop of New Orleans, was familiar with LeBlanc and his huge personality. Eager to help out Louisiana’s governor, Cody put in a request at the Vatican.

“The next thing we knew there was a press association photo of the Holy Father meeting with Senator Dudley J. LeBlanc,” Weill wrote.

Whether or not Coozan Dud left behind any Hadacol in St. Peter’s Basilica remains a mystery.


WHAT YOU MISSED IN THE WEEKLY

The Official #LaLege Crib Sheet

Print it out, stick it to your wall, share it with your clients or memorize every word!

PNG Image file (4MB) / Smaller PNG image file (2MB) / One-page PDF (3MB) / Two-page PDF (5MB)

Other stories from our pre-Thanksgiving issue:

— Why legislative turnover is a bigger deal than you think…

— Garret Graves & the Looziana Legislature…

— A youthful fundraiser for Gov. John Bel Edwards…

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy & Congressman Ralph Abraham are under watch…

— Major candidates announce for open legislative seats…

— The book that sheds new light on David Duke….

— Words from Edwin Edwards’ former defense attorney…

— Tons of “Field Notes!” you should have seen…

— Our regular “They Said It!” feature…

— A special “They Said It!” dedicated to JNK…

Get on the inside today and subscribe to the political trade publication that elected officials, lobbyists, journalists and campaign professionals have depended on for 25 years!


POLITICAL CHATTER

— WILL MITCH RUN? The New York Times is out with an new opinion piece by Charles Blow, a Louisiana native, on former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s contemplation of a presidential campaign and his views on race. Landrieu’s new foray into racial reconciliation with the E Pluribus Unum Fund is explored as well.

— After weeks of speculation, Ruston businessman Chris Turner has officially declared to run in the special election in HD 12. The seat was vacated by former Rep. Rob Shadoin, who resigned to take a position in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

— In the Shreveport mayoral race, former candidate Lee O. Savage is facing questions around a potential job tied to his endorsement. Savage, who endorsed incumbent Mayor Ollie Tyler, allegedly asked her challenger, Adrian Perkins, for the position of chief administrative officer in a new administration. In an interview with KEEL, Savage denied the charges.

George Jones for JBE, Meat Loaf for JNK - find out who The Daily Advertiser says are the favorite musicians of some elected officials.

Gov. John Bel Edwards will be delivering the commencement address at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s fall graduation ceremonies on Dec. 14.

— On Monday, Dec. 3, LABI will be hosting their “Beyond the BAR” seminar. Among the events included are; a discussion with Congressmen Garret Graves and Cedric Richmond on the partisan divide in Washington, LABI political guru John Diez giving his outlook on the 2019 races, House Clerk Butch Speer talking rules and procedure and Reps. John Stefanski, Neil Abramson and Gary Carter discussing a future constitutional convention. Tickets are still available.

Jason Redmond had joined the government relations team at McGlinchey Stafford. 

The Advocate: “Louisiana legislators earlier this year quietly approved a new law meant to establish protections for "skilled" gamblers, including those who count cards when playing Blackjack — a practice made popular in films like 21 and Rain Man.”

The Times-Pic: “After decades of local domination, New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV ceded its ratings crown to WVUE-Fox 8 during the November 2018 sweeps period, Nielsen ratings figures show.”

@KevinFreyTV: “Reading thru the federal climate report released Friday, Louisiana's 2016 floods are cited as examples of extreme inland flooding: "Events of such magnitudes are projected to become more likely in the future due to a changing climate”

— Congressional Aide Michael Willis’ Bad Joke of the Week: “What type of keys don't open doors? TURKEYS!!”


A Message From Harris, DeVille & Associates

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As HDA client Sasol progresses through the commissioning phase of its world-scale petrochemical complex in Louisiana, the company is also building careers for Louisiana residents.

"What I like best about Sasol is the safety aspect. Before getting hired on with Sasol, they had a reputation of being a very safe company and when I arrived, that was very much the case. There’s a safety first attitude here.”

Jason Bland, a McNeese State University graduate from DeRidder, Louisiana, is a processor at Sasol’s Lake Charles West Plant. His career with Sasol started in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at its GTL pilot plant. Bland then transferred to the Lake Charles Utilities, Offsites and Infrastructure area as one of the first processors on the Lake Charles Chemicals Project. One of Bland’s goals is to create more youth programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Junior Achievement to help Lake Charles youth lead successful lives.

Hear Jason’s story.

Learn more at http://www.SasolNorthAmerica.com/WeAreBuilding.


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#HBD TRACKERS

— Tuesday, Nov. 27: Former Rep. Bryan Adams

— Wednesday, Nov. 28: Late Congressman Clyde Holloway, Sen. Norby Chabert, Rep. Johnny Berthelot, former Rep. Nick Lorusso, T. Brad Keith, Annabelle Armstrong and James Fox-Smith

— Thursday, Nov. 29: Ravi Sangisetty

— Friday, Nov. 30: Former Attorney General Charles Foti, Ashlee McNeely, Randal Johnson, Lionel “Roll Tide” Rainey, Brent Littlefield, Joel DiGrado and Malcolm Richard

— Saturday, Dec. 1: Rep. Frankie Howard, Jason Amato, Marty Maley and Billy Tauzin III

— Sunday, Dec. 2: Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, Josh Borill, Kim Callaway and Mike Shepherd

— Monday, Dec. 3: Former Speaker Chuck Kleckley, Anna Leigh White and Walt Handelsman


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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* * * * *   S P E C I A L   H O L I D A Y   I S S U E   * * * * * The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille &

SPONSORED: Fostering A Healthier Community One Step At A Time

TPG recently attended the Acadiana Culture of Health Summit, an event that brought together healthcare professionals, local leaders, and

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SPONSORED: Cheniere Energy Makes A Generous Donation In New Apprenticeship Program

The new program will launch in January 2019, and eligible students will take what they have learned in SOWELA’s classrooms and apply it to

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  ALERT: TO ALL VOTING ADULTS & PEOPLE WITH HEART CONDITIONS OR YOUNG CHILDREN…. THE SILLY SEASON IS UPON US… THERE IS NOWHERE

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It’s an exciting time for the Lafayette Regional Airport and the Acadiana region. After many years of planning and raising funds, the new

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As Chair-Elect of the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and member of the Committee of 100, Tyron Picard recently participated in a

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SPONSORED: TPG Attends Microsoft Consultant’s Retreat

TPG’s Mike Michot and Evan Boudreaux recently attended the 2018 Microsoft State Governmental Affairs Consultant’s Retreat, providing an

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SPONSORED: LPCA Hold 35th Annual Conference

TPG’s client Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA) held their 35th Annual Conference last week at the Shreveport Convention Center. LPCA

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October 16, 2018 — Issue No. 161 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com) (Printable

CORRECTION (LaPolitics Weekly 10.12.18)

In a “Field Notes” brief from yesterday’s LaPolitics Weekly, we erroneously reported that the Plaquemines Parish Council voted 4-3 to remove

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October 10, 2018 — Issue No. 160 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com) RISPONE IS IN Fast

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October 2, 2018 — Issue No. 159 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com)  IT AIN’T

SPONSORED: Honoring Former Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

The Picard Group was honored to attend the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center gala on Friday, September 21, supporting UL

SPONSORED: Franco-Fête 2018 Fundraising Luncheon For Scholarship Program Of CODOFIL

Each year, Franco-Fête raises funds to support French education in Louisiana, especially through La Fondation Louisiane’s “Escadrille

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