The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker,Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

January 15, 2019 - Issue No. 171

By Mitch Rabalais (mitch@lapolitics.com)

& Jeremy Alford (jja@lapolitics.com)


ROLL CALL: John Fleming may make gubernatorial bid... Alan Seabaugh on backing away... John Alario & LaToya Cantrell were spotted... Your political history lesson is all about tracking Donald Trump... The Saints & the Kathleen Blanco lobby... Anthony Ramirez takes a new gig on the campaign trail... The SRLC is in Kenner, bruh... Happy birthday to radio show host Jim Engster, and many others… HDA on ITEP and Ochsner...


Fleming Considering Governor’s Race

John Fleming, the former 4th District congressman and current deputy assistant secretary of health information technology reform, is seriously considering jumping into the developing race for governor, according to several sources. Friends of the Minden resident add that he has not yet set a timetable for making a final decision. 

His ability to engage in political activities is limited due to his current job in President Donald Trump’s administration. If Fleming were to run for governor, he would have to resign his post before building any kind of a campaign apparatus. 

Last year, Trump nominated Fleming to a post in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The nomination did not receive a confirmation vote in the Senate and was returned to the president upon adjournment of the 115th Congress. The White House has yet to re-submit Fleming’s nomination. 

Fleming will be in Louisiana this week to participate in a panel discussion on health care with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and Congressman Ralph Abraham during the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.


BACKGROUNDER: Dr. John C. Fleming, Jr.

  • John Fleming is a native of Meridian, Mississippi, and received both his bachelors and medical degrees from Ole Miss.  
  • After graduation and completing a tour of duty in the Navy, Fleming moved to Minden and opened a medical practice in 1982. 
  • Fleming’s other business venture, The Fleming Group, currently owns 38 Subway restaurants and 168 UPS stores. 
  • From 1996 to 2000, he served as Webster Parish’s coroner. 
  • In 2008, Fleming won the race to succeed retiring Congressman Jim McCrery. During that campaign, Fleming was endorsed by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who made an appearance in Shreveport. 
  • During his time in the lower chamber, Fleming was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus. 
  • After four terms, Fleming vacated his House seat in 2016 to run for the U.S. Senate. He finished fifth in the primary, but carried Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, Sabine, Vernon and Grant parishes. 

A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates

ITEP: Making Louisiana Better

The Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) is the most important tool Louisiana has in bringing new investments to the state. In exchange for bringing jobs and economic ventures, ITEP provides incentives for companies to invest in Louisiana. When companies choose to put roots down in Louisiana, they bring jobs, taxes and assets to the parishes. In fact, for every job created in the chemical industry, more than eight jobs are created elsewhere in the state.

Parishes with ITEP have higher teacher salaries, higher employment and higher annual salaries. For example, St. Charles Parish receives the third highest value of ITEP and ranks fifth in teacher salaries. Iberville Parish receives the fifth highest value of ITEP and ranks sixth in teacher salaries. East Baton Rouge Parish teachers are paid $2,000 more than the state average.

After the investment incentive is over, 100 percent of property taxes flow onto the local tax rolls. In fact, over then next four years as ITEP contracts expire, more than $14.5 billion in industry investments will come onto the tax rolls of local governments across Louisiana. 

Watch this video to learn more about how ITEP helps businesses choose Louisiana and the benefits industry brings to our state.


The Seabaugh Q&A

LaPolitics: You announced your decision to withdraw your nomination to a federal judgeship last week. What led you to make this decision? 

Rep. Alan Seabaugh: A couple of things. I was actually picked by the White House in February of 2018. It drug out last year, but I really didn’t care, because I wasn’t in a hurry to do anything. As we went into 2019, the timing does make a difference because we have another legislative session, but more importantly, we have re-election. It was time to make decisions. I haven’t had a fundraiser since February of 2018. I had one that occurred about a week after I was selected by the White House. It’s not illegal for me to have fundraisers while the nomination is up, but I just didn’t feel right about it. I kinda had a self imposed fundraising ban during that time period, which obviously I wouldn’t be able to continue and still run. It was kind of, ‘do I want to sit around and wait for this?” I had to accept the fact that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go. About a week before Christmas, my wife, my kids and I kind of had a heart to heart and we weren’t sure that it was a rabbit that we wanted to chase. 

LaPolitics: What is it like to go through the process of trying to get confirmation from the U.S. Senate? 

Seabaugh: I mean, I can’t say anything bad, it was kind of fun to the extent that I had to go to. I had to get in touch with all my college roommates because I had to call and tell them why the FBI was going to call and ask them questions. So I had to track down several people that I haven’t talked to in quite a while, which was fun going down memory lane. We had to give them a video of everything I have ever said in the Legislature, wether it was in committee or on the floor. It is all stored and archived, so I had to go through and put all that together and it was like 40 pages of links. But it was fun to go back and watch my first floor appearance during the redistricting session in 2011. It was kind of nostalgic. So, from a nostalgia standpoint, it was actually pretty cool. It is a little weird - I think they called some ex-girlfriends - and they knocked on all my neighbors’ doors and they didn’t tell them why they were knocking, so my neighbors all thought I was about to be indicted. To some extent it was funny and it was just a weird process to have every aspect of your life combed through by strangers. The rest of it, the vetting process from the senators, it really was not that big of a deal. I had a couple of interviews, I got to fly to D.C. and got to the White House for an interview with the White House counsel, so that was kind of cool. Overall, I would say it is a 98 percent positive experience. 

LaPolitics: After you withdrew from consideration, you announced that you will be running for speaker in 2020. Did you consider seeking any other offices?

Seabaugh: Not since I removed my name for the judgeship. I had considered running for the Senate against John Milkovich for a couple of years. I still live in the same house that I lived in when I ran for that seat in 2007, but in 2011 I got drawn out of the district. So when Milkovich won that district, I saw him as a very vulnerable incumbent and I spent a couple of years actively campaigning and planning to run against him. But I would have had to move across the street. The dividing line of the district literally goes down the middle of my street. I would have had to move across the street. I had planned to do so, but with the judicial nomination came down and they were doing all of the background checks. I would have had to have moved in the summer of 2018. I was in the middle of it all by then and I wasn’t moving, especially since I would have had to move to Alexandria if I got confirmed. I really didn’t want to have to move and then move again. So I did consider the Senate before the judicial nomination. I will tell you, I did have several people from around the state reach out to me and encourage me and nudge me to run for governor and I considered it for about 48 hours, but that is not something that I am ready to do. 


Spotted…

  • MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU: New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was seen in the Central Business District dancing with a street performer dressed as a Saints-themed Darth Vader. 
  • Sen. Ronnie Johns, Reps. Paul Hollis and Joe Marino were seen chatting with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie after his talk about legalized sports betting at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States. 
  • Backstage at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain were seen sharing a laugh about not challenging each other this fall.  
  • CPRA officials were seen in Jefferson Parish Saturday, discussing the agency’s 2020 plan with Senate President John Alario and other members of the JP legislative delegation. 
  • Reneé Fontenot Free was seen moving furniture into her new office at the Capitol. Free is joining Treasurer John Schroder’s office as executive counsel. 

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!


Political History: Tracking Trump

Monday, President Donald Trump visited the Bayou State to speak to the American Farm Bureau’s convention in New Orleans. A full complement of Louisiana’s elected officials, including Gov. John Bel Edwards, Senate President John Alario and the state congressional delegation were on hand for his visit. 

However, this was not Trump’s first adventure into Louisiana politics with Alario and a Gov. Edwards. 

In 1993, Trump was at the height of his business success, owning a huge empire of high-end real estate properties and Atlantic City casinos. 

With gaming just starting to expand into Louisiana, Trump wanted to buy-in on the action. 

According to author Tyler Bridges in Bad Bet on the Bayou, Trump unveiled plans for a riverboat casino, the Trump Princess, which was set to be docked on the Mississippi River in New Orleans. 

To handle his lobbying in Baton Rouge and the casino licensing process, the New Yorker hired Bob D’Hemecourt, a close friend of then-Gov. Edwin Edwards

D’Hemecourt was able to secure Trump an invitation to dine with Edwards at the Governor’s Mansion, along with then-Speaker John Alario and several other lawmakers. 

Trump arrived in Baton Rouge on the evening of Aug. 25 - but unfortunately for him, the message from the governor was not as good as the food at their dinner. 

“I told him I was sorry, it wouldn’t be in the cards,” Edwards later told The Advocate. 

Despite a later lawsuit, Trump’s attempts to build a casino in the Bayou State were unsuccessful.


Political Chatter

  • The lobby of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was named in honor former Gov. Kathleen Blanco Sunday. In a pregame ceremony attended by Gov. John Bel Edwards and Saints owner Gayle Benson, Blanco was saluted for her work rebuilding the stadium after Hurricane Katrina. 
  • Speaking of governors and Saints playoff games, Edwards will soon be receiving a box of TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf as part of a bet on the Saints-Eagles game.
  • Judge Edwin Lombard of New Orleans will be joining the Political Hall of Fame’s 2019 class of inductees.
  • The Revenue Estimating Conference’s next meeting is set for Thursday, Jan. 17. 
  • With her decision in the governor race coming soon, Sen. Sharon Hewitt is receiving national recognition from the Republican State Leadership Committee. 
  • Baton Rouge Area Chamber CEO Adam Knapp will be speaking to the Press Club at their weekly luncheon on Jan. 28. 
  • New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams and Councilman Joe Giarrusso will be the celebrity bartenders for the Press Club of New Orleans’s monthly media night. You can see the two council members slinging drinks Thursday evening at Molly’s on Decatur Street.
  • Mark Romero has officially taken over as the new chairman of the UL Board of Supervisors, presiding over his first meeting last Friday. New members Jimmy Clarke, Mimi Methvin and Kristine Russell were sworn-in at the meeting as well. 
  • Former Sen. Marty Chabert has been sworn-in as the new chairman of the Board of Regents. 
  • The legislative auditor’s office has released a fresh batch of 244 reports. 
  • Congressional aide Michael Willis’ Bad Joke of the Week: “What was the world’s first ground-breaking invention? The shovel!” 

Staff Shifts

  • Anthony Ramirez, a former Jindal Administration aide and campaign staffer, has joined Eddie Rispone’s gubernatorial campaign as communications director.
  • Chris Bond, Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s communications director, has left the Whip’s office for FP1 Strategies, a D.C. consulting firm. 

News Shaping Our Politics

  • The News-Star: “President Trump told American farmers here Monday he will boost their profits with new trade deals and make it easier for them to secure migrant labor while giving "Who Dat Nation" a shout-out for the Saints playoff win Sunday.” 
  • The Advocate: “In her push to find money to improve New Orleans’ decrepit infrastructure, Mayor LaToya Cantrell is targeting a share of the $160 million in sales and hotel taxes that are collected each year to promote the tourism industry.” 
  • Gambit: “The Southern Republican Leadership Conference won't generate the national media buzz that it engendered in years past when it opens in Kenner next Friday (Jan. 18), but conference chair Roger Villere Jr. says the gathering will make news nonetheless. At a minimum, it will attempt to rally Louisiana Republicans in advance of the 2019 statewide elections.” 

The Countdown

  • 17 days until Washington Mardi Gras 
  • 39 days until the special elections in HD12, HD47, HD18, HD 26, HD 27, HD 62 and HD 17 
  • 83 days until the start of the regular session 
  • 203 days until qualifying opens 
  • 270 days until the primary elections 
  • 305 days until the runoff elections  
  • 363 days left in the term

Beltway Beat

With President Donald Trump in New Orleans to speak to the American Farm Bureau’s convention, the Louisiana congressional delegation found themselves bringing the Beltway to the Bayou State this week. 

  • The seating arrangement for the president’s speech raised some eyebrows, as Congressman Ralph Abraham was placed next to his 2019 gubernatorial rival, Gov. John Bel Edwards. Congressman Garret Graves later tweeted out a picture of the odd couple with the caption “Trying to hear POTUS speak...these guys next to me keep arguing. #noisiestneighborsever” 
  • Graves also greeted the president with a cream-cheese filled king cake at Louis Armstrong Airport.  
  • During his remarks, the president took time to salute the members of the congressional delegation in attendance. “You got a lot of good politicians down here,” the commander-in-chief said in closing. 

What You Missed in the Weekly

— Welcome to the Year of the Pig  

— Candidates in the speaker’s race are PAC-ing 

— Sen. Sharon Hewitt will be making a decision in the governor’s race soon 

— House rules mean a new name for the lower chamber’s dean next term 

— Shifts and changes in the political team at LABI 

See what are the 2019 plans for House Majority Leader Lance Harris, Col. Rob Manness, Rep. Reid Falconer, Sheriff Jeff Britt and Jeff Crouere in the Watchlist. 

— How Trent Lott, NASA & the Need for Profits Collided to Help Mississippi Steal the Saints

— President Donald Trump leads off our “Field Notes” 

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy talks about mules, bubble wrap and parachuting in from other planets in our “They Said It” feature 

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


A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates  

HDA Client Ochsner opens Medical Complex High Grove in Baton Rouge

Ochsner Medical Complex High Grove, a $116 million medical center featuring a multi-specialty clinic and surgical hospital, will open this week in Baton Rouge, serving as an “anchor site” for the New Orleans-based health system’s operations in the Capital Region.

Ochsner closed its existing medical complex on Summa Avenue to patients, as it moved to the new complex, near the Mall of Louisiana. The new facility is expected to serve 2,000 patients a day, up from around 1,300 patients currently served each day at the Summa location.

Patients will have access to a retail pharmacy on-site, an “O Bar” for health tech and an MRI machine that plays music and features customizable lights and even beach scenes. The sleek new office building has a host of other features that are designed to make things as easy as possible on patients. It also has a pool for aqua-therapy, and a new bridge connects the complex to apartments and a retirement community on the other side of a creek. 

To view a video of the new complex, click here


#HBD Trackers! 

— Tuesday, Jan. 15: Jim Engster and Ruth Ward

— Wednesday, Jan. 16: Peggy Cromer and Kyle Gautreau

— Thursday, Jan. 17: Former Congressman Don Cazayoux, political pro Bud Courson and Sid Arroyo

— Friday, Jan. 18: Amy Charrier

— Saturday, Jan. 19: Ashley Credeur

— Sunday, Jan. 20: Thomas Damico

— Monday, Jan. 21: Former Rep. Jane Smith, Abhay Patel, Kris Kimball, Pat Englade and Jack Hughes


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 © 2019

Jeremy Alford/Louisiana Political Review

All rights reserved.

Tuesday Tracker

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