The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates



December 4, 2018 

Issue No. 167

By Mitch Rabalais (

& Jeremy Alford (


Politicos running toward, away & around Gov2019

You know the score already.

You wouldn’t be reading a political trade publication late on a Tuesday afternoon if you weren’t already tracking one of the kookiest (ALREADY!) races on next year’s ballot.

So here’s the stuff we know that we’ll need to better understand later after embracing this reality now, in order to, you know, get to there from here, wherever there is these days:

— With JBE at fighting weight, the Dem side of the marquee race is settled. Worse-case scenario would be a straw-man, straw-woman or straw-person meant to divide the incumbent’s base. We wouldn’t want the short end of the straw on that one.

— A void is assumed on the GOP side, even though Eddie R. has the bench (and his 5 million reasons to run) to himself for the time being. He is the leading Republican candidate.

Everything else is a guessing game, so we’re keeping it simple this afternoon. We asked a few top bananas and a handful of big cheeses for straight answers. Here’s what we were able to cobble together on the record over the past 36 hours…



— Gov. John Bel Edwards (Tune into LaPolitics Weekly on Thursday to find out why Team Edwards may look stronger than you think.)

Eddie Rispone (AKA Eddie R., AKA Fast Eddie, AKA Eddie Rabbit)



— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy

— House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

— Congressman Garret Graves

— Attorney General Jeff Landry

— Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain

— Public Service Commissioner Craig Greene

— Sen. Bret Allain

— Sen. Conrad Appel

— House Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry

— Rep. Alan Seabaugh

— LABI Prez Stephen Waguespack

Businessman Jim Bernhard



— Congressman Ralph Abraham (Likely)

— Treasurer John Schroder (“With Congressman Scalise out and with Sen. Kennedy out, I definitely think this creates an opening for another person,” Schroder told LaPolitics.)

— Sen. Sharon Hewitt (A wildcard, she was recently recognized as ALEC’s “Legislator of the Year” and spoke to a group of female candidates in New Mexico.)







— Businessman John Georges

— Attorney Tony Clayton

Anyone from Jefferson Parish

— Former Gov. Edwin Edwards

— Real estate agent Trina Edwards

— Five-year-old child Eli Edwards

Anyone from Tangipahoa Parish

A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates


HDA client FG LA LLC (FG) is in the permitting phase for The Sunshine Project, an estimated $9.4 billion industrial complex to be located on the west bank in St. James Parish, Louisiana. FG is committed to listening to the community, hiring locally and supporting education.

Listening to the Community

FG is committed to developing programs that meet real community needs. Residents expressed a need to widen Hwy. 3127 to alleviate traffic congestion, and FG recently unveiled a project to do just that. This project will enhance road infrastructure in the community and help minimize traffic impacts during construction and operations.

Hiring Locally

The Sunshine Project is expected to generate widespread economic benefits for the local area and the state. FG’s “Think Local” policy solidifies the company’s commitment to hire local residents and use local businesses as much as possible throughout construction and operations. Visit the project’s Think Local page to learn more about opportunities to work with the project.

Supporting Education

FG has met with local teachers, principals and staff and provided in-service sessions for these educators. In May, FG funded a science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) grant for West Bank schools: St. Louis Academy, Sixth Ward Elementary and Vacherie Elementary. FG is committed to supporting educational initiatives that equip the workforce of tomorrow.

View the project’s recent newsletter for more information about FG’s commitment to the community.



(Awarded for excellence in the category of announcers

who make announcements about announcements)

Late Hammond attorney C.B. Forgotston, a go-to source for reporters and state legislators during the Jindal and Foster administrations, would have worn out his keyboard over the last few weeks if he was still with us.

I do know, however, what the columnist and blogger would have said this week when U.S. Sen. John Kennedy announced, after much speculation, that he would not be running for governor. That’s because C.B. already wrote it, seven years ago.

So here it is, and yes, his sentences are definitely worth cutting, pasting and repeating.

Making a decision of what one is NOT going to do is NOT something one takes lightly. After NOT conferring with my family, friends and supporters I have reached a final decision about what I am NOT going to do.

Among the many things that I am NOT going to do, I am NOT going be a candidate for governor in this fall’s election.

I know that this decision will NOT be a surprise to anyone… However, my failure to announce what I was NOT going to do has prevented others from announcing what they are NOT going to do.

This decision to NOT run should NOT be interpreted as I have ruled out future consideration of NOT running for political office.

Finally, I will NOT be accepting requests for interviews from the media about my decision NOT to run. I’ve already taken too much time away from my primary focus. As such, I intend to get back to the business of deciding what else I am NOT going to do.

With that out of the way, we know two things to be certain heading into December 2018. For starters, Forgotston was on to something. (Seriously.) Secondly, Kennedy must be happier than a hound dog sitting on a porch chewing on a catfish head. 

The senator artfully captured the pervious week’s news cycle by promising to announce his decision on the 2019 governor’s race by last Saturday. He then changed his mind and punted to Monday (Dec. 3), which, in turn, extended the Kennedy mania into this week's news cycle. 

Such control and patience, coupled with a complete disregard for the rest of the field, the donor class, and the Republican Party’s desire to get the ball rolling ahead of 2019, would have made him a heavy and unpredictable hitter. But what role will he play now from the sidelines? Does Kennedy have the stuff to be a kingmaker? Or does he hold firm to his designation of lone wolf?

Kennedy remains a provocative wildcard that the working press and the middle class electorate cannot get enough of, even in today’s jam-packed media landscape. Kennedy is, after all, the P.T. Barnum of modern Louisiana politics — that is, he’s a master marketer and a professional promoter. Whatever he wants to do, he'll do, and my fellow reporters and I will be around to tell you about it, whether you need to know or not. Such is the way of our political circus.

The senator's decision leaves Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and businessman and education advocate Eddie Rispone, a Republican, as the only announced candidates for the next year’s big race. Meanwhile, Congressman Ralph Abraham of northeast Louisiana is seriously considering the contest, along with Treasurer John Schroder and state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, both from St. Tammany Parish. All three are with the GOP.

All other major Republicans are steering of clear of the developing fray. For now, at least. If another pair of hardline conservatives do eventually jump in, though, more could follow suit. With a crowded field, 18 percent to 22 percent of the vote could be enough to make the runoff. That sort of math will likely sound appealing to some. Yet it could also mean a primary where the Republicans would be aiming water balloons at each other, rather than the Democrat. If that sounds familiar, that’s because the 2015 race for governor was exactly that kind of balloon fight.

Of course, it didn’t have to go down this way for Republicans. Kennedy saying no to the 2019 ballot amounted to returning a silver platter without the receipt. The race, at least on the Republican side, was being served up for Kennedy to a certain degree, even if the field wasn’t perfectly clean. Not since 2007, when former U.S. Sen. John Breaux took to flirting with the state’s premier office, has a gubernatorial bid been offered up so freely by a party apparatus and its mainline soldiers.

Kennedy could have simply turned his back on the race, rather than turning up the noise. Then again, as C.B. Forgotston put it, making a decision of what one is NOT going to do is NOT something one takes lightly.


So are the days of our REC

One week after a meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference got bogged down amid debate over a projected surplus, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne announced his plans to hold another gathering Monday, Dec. 10.

At the meeting on Nov. 27, economists recommended raising the state’s projected income for the fiscal year. Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry, however, serving as a proxy for Speaker Taylor Barras, blocked the measure.

Henry’s move, a political play in what had traditionally been a fairly nonpartisan territory, angered both the Edwards Administration and President John Alario.

Teacher pay raises, which the governor has called his “top priority” for the 2019 regular session, are being linked in various ways to the surplus. In addition, the Fourth Floor has other priorities for the current fiscal year.

By contrast, Henry and House Majority Leader Lance Harris said any surplus should be used for a rollback of the state sales taxes passed in recent special sessions.

The budget for Fiscal Year 19-20 is set to be presented to JCLB on Feb. 22.


Recalling Bush’s NOLA triumph

The world mourned the passing of George Herbert Walker Bush this week. He was the 41st president of the United States, which trailed a long and decorated career in public service.

But many folks don’t realize that the one of the late president’s most iconic moments occurred in the Bayou State.

During the 1988 election, the Republican Party decided to hold their convention at the Superdome in New Orleans. It was set to be a political coronation of sorts for Bush, the sitting vice president, who had defeated a whole host of GOP rivals to officially claim the mantle as Ronald Reagan’s heir.

New Orleans went full out for the convention. According to reports in The Times-Pic, delegates were greeted at the airport by a jazz band and hurricane drinks from Pat O’Brien’s. Mardi Gras floats helped escort President Reagan’s motorcade through downtown, and the nominee himself arrived in the city on the steamboat Natchez.

Once the delegates were situated in the Superdome, then-Gov. Buddy Roemer welcomed them to Louisiana. Many of them responded by shouting “switch” at the Democratic governor, an old friend of Bush’s.

Reagan’s remarks were the highlight of the first day, and he payed tribute to the host city with his trademark humor. “I always feel at home here in Louisiana because, you know, I'm the fella that talked Tom Jefferson into buying it,” he quipped.

On the following day, Bush announced then-U.S. Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana as his running mate in a speech along the Mississippi River. According to Destiny and Power, historian Jon Meacham’s biography of Bush, New York real-estate developer Donald Trump was also in town for the convention and made overtures to the nominee about joining his ticket in the No. 2 spot. Bush politely declined.

The convention, of course, was not without a local incident as WWL-TV anchor Garland Robinette was briefly detained by the Secret Service for attempting to enter the Superdome with a gun that he had accidentally left in his briefcase.

On the convention’s final day, however, the attention solely belonged to Bush. His acceptance speech would later become infamous for the candidate’s pledge of, “Read my lips… No new taxes.”

But it was Bush’s rousing closing in that speech that continues to draw inspiration, especially as we remember the late president’s memory this week.

“I will keep America moving forward, always forward — for a better America, for an endless enduring dream and a thousand points of light,” Bush said during his stop in New Orleans. “This is my mission. And I will complete it.”


With the death of former President George H.W. Bush this week, Congress is holding off on any votes and actions until after his funeral services. President Donald Trump has declared Wednesday as a national day of mourning, closing all federal offices.

The House will not resume work until next week, while the Senate is expected to return to session on Thursday.

— U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s bill to honor former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal has now signed on 55 co-sponsors in the House, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond. Cassidy’s bill recognizes Gleason’s advocacy for ALS since he was diagnosed with the disease in 2011.

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy will be meeting with House members this week, trying to build support for his bill giving a six-month extension to the National Flood Insurance Program. The legislation is expected to be heard when the lower chamber resumes work next week.

— House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will be spending a large portion of his week, actively participating in the funeral services for President Bush as a member of the Congressional leadership.

— Congressman Clay Higgins will be spending the week in his Acadiana district, meeting with constituents. Back on Capitol Hill, Higgins’ staff will be preparing to move, as the congressman is getting a new office in the Cannon House Office Building.

— Congressman Mike Johnson will be officially receiving his gavel as chairman of the Republican Study Committee this week. He will also be participating in scheduled hearings with former FBI Director James Comey on actions during the 2016 presidential election. Johnson’s staff is also getting ready for a move as well, as he is also getting new digs in the Cannon House Building, directly across from his fellow North Louisianan, Ralph Abraham, and down the hall from Higgins’ suite.

— While Congressman Ralph Abraham is still weighing a run for governor, his bill to provide financial relief to soybean farmers is expected to get some movement next week. In addition, the conference committee he sits on is expected to take up the Farm Bill then, meaning that Doc will likely have a full legislative plate until adjournment.


Kennedy now carrying the main flood insurance bill

— What are Ralph Abraham’s prospects in the governor’s race

— Changes coming to Team Rispone

— Former Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley still looks to make an impact in the race for his old job

— A former top Kennedy aide joins McGlinchey Stafford

— How one former candidate for secretary of state is now working for Treasurer John Schroder’s office

— A very panicky  “They Said It!” feature

Get on the inside today with a subscription to LaPolitics Weekly!


— NEWS WE DIDN’T TWEET: Gannet’s Greg Hilburn tells LaPolitics, “I will not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of the capitol press corps for governor.”

— STORMY WEATHER COMING TO THE CAPITOL: Adult entertainer Stormy Daniels, the Baton Rouge native famous for her alleged relationship with President Donald Trump, will be at the Capitol on Sunday, Dec. 9, to protest the state’s law requiring adult entertainers and exotic dancers to be at least 21 years old.

The Advocate: “One year after a gas tax hike died in the Legislature, trade groups and others are kicking off a $500,000 campaign to force another legislative debate on the issue, possibly in 2019.”

— The American Tort Reform Foundation has again ranked Louisiana as one of the top “judicial hellholes” in the nation. In a statement, the organization’s president, Tiger Joyce blamed many of the state’s current laws on the books as well as what they classify as a saturated market of trial lawyers.

— CABL is having their annual meeting and luncheon tomorrow at L’Auberge in Baton Rouge. The event will feature a keynote speech from Charlie Cook, the editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report. Cook’s talk, Understanding the Political Divide and What It Means for the Future, is set to begin at noon. In addition, CABL will also be hosting a membership meeting and panel discussion. Tickets are still available.

— Next Thursday, LaPolitics deputy editor and resident historian, Mitch Rabalais, will be speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Acadiana at their monthly meeting in Lafayette. He will be touching on what to expect in the upcoming election year, what’s next in the regular session and along with plenty of his Huey Long and Edwin Edwards stories for color and humor. 

AP: “Louisiana is receiving $11 million as its share of a multistate settlement with Deutsche Bank over the manipulation of a key benchmark involving global interest rates.”

— Dr. Tommy Middleton, the executive director of the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, will serve as the U.S. Senate’s guest chaplain on December 6th.

— Last Thursday, incumbent Mayor Ollie Tyler and challenger Adrian Perkins faced off in their only debate of Shreveport’s heated mayoral runoff. The two mostly sparred over the direction of the city’s police department and crime, but both got in a few personal barbs for good measure.

KALB: “Last week, Amy Hirata, an interior designer, and Fort Polk military spouse headed to Washington, D.C., as part of the select group of volunteers chosen to decorate The White House for Christmas.”

A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates

Tax Deferral, Not Tax Exemption

Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) 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.


— Tuesday, Dec. 4: Roland Dartez and Josh Stockley

— Wednesday, Dec. 5: Former Congressman Rodney Alexander, Charles Landry and late Baton Rouge Councilman Buddy Amoroso

— Thursday, Dec. 6: Sen. Dale Erdey, Rep. Dodie Horton, Luke “Boss Hog” Letlow, Liz Murrill, Ginny Martinez and Brinkley Maginnis

— Friday, Dec. 7: Amy Jones and Blake Cooper

— Saturday, Dec. 8: Former Rep. Brett Geymann and Cayman Clevenger

— Sunday, Dec. 9: Rep. Rodney Lyons, former Sen. Jody Amedee, Jolan Jolivette, David Zoller, Erin Buchanan Mills and Lara Sonnier Venable

— Monday, Dec. 10: Butch Plauche

Copyright © 2018

Jeremy Alford/Louisiana Political Review

All rights reserved.

Tuesday Tracker



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