Recreational fishing lobby hopeful after Melancon exit


After a year of fighting the former wildlife and fisheries secretary on a number of fronts, recreational interests are hopeful for 2017 as state Rep. Jack Montoucet of Crowley takes over the top hunting and fishing regulatory job in Louisiana.
Montoucet, an alligator farmer by trade and a former fire chief, replaces Charlie Melancon, who was forced out of the secretary position after getting crossways on red snapper management issues with the Edwards Administration, Congressman Garret Graves, the Louisiana chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association and others.
Melancon had also made a big issue out of past fiscal management practices at the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which is something Montoucet has said he will zero in on.
“I understand the seriousness of the issues raised by a recent audit, and the governor and I are committed to making the necessary reforms to this agency,” Montoucet said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has the authority to appoint the secretary, and he served in the House of Representatives alongside Montoucet.
For recreational interests, who complained that Melancon was taking the side of commercial fishermen on matters like red snapper management, there’s a growing optimism about a more even-handed political approach from Montoucet — a commercial harvester of alligators.
Right now Patrick Banks, assistant secretary of the Office of Fisheries, is serving as the interim-secretary.
Montoucet will officially take over Jan. 16 and his seat in House District 42 will become vacant, requiring a special election.
In that House race, Jay Suire, a Republican attorney with the Glenn Armentor Law Corporation, has announced he will be running.
The Acadiana House seat, held during the last three terms by Montoucet, a Democrat, has long been targeted by the Louisiana Republican Party.

Emerson gig temporary
Freshman Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro, has been spending time in Washington, D.C., while leading the transition for Congressman-elect Clay Higgins, who will in January begin representing the 3rd Congressional District.
Politicos, though, probably shouldn’t hope for a special election in the state House.
Emerson said recently via text that there’s “no chance of resigning or anything of that nature.”

3rd Circuit race shifts
The open seat on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal being vacated by state Supreme Court Justice-elect Jimmy Genovese is starting to shape up — beginning with a quick exit from Judge John Trahan, who was expected to run.
The field now has two new maybe-candidates, including former Judge Susan Theall and assistant district attorney Roger Hamilton Jr.
Already announced with a campaign staff is Candyce Perret, a Lafayette attorney and small business owner.
But the most interesting twist in this developing race comes courtesy of state Sen. Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville, whose name was included in a recent telephone poll.
Perry said he was not involved in the poll, although he is being encouraged to consider the race.
“Which is always very humbling,” he added, “but I’m not seeking that vacant seat. I’m happy to continue my representation of Senate District 26.”

More on Lake Charles mayor
A new month brings another update on the developing race for mayor of Lake Charles.
There were a few announcements before the holiday break, including from Police Juror Tony Guillory and Rev. Joe Banks. Former state representative and Judge Wilford Carter is said to be thinking about the race as well.
So far, with the exception of Police Juror Nic Hunter, all of the announced candidates are Democrats. E
ligha Guillory Jr., a former assistant city administrator, is in the running too. Others said to be at least thinking about it include Lake Charles City Councilman Dana Jackson, Police Jury President Chris Landry and attorney Marshall Simien.

Political history: Louisiana's
missing electoral votes
In President-elect Donald Trump we finally found out who would get Louisiana’s eight electoral votes — not that the November election left much of a mystery in its wake.
But did you know there were actually two years from Louisiana’s colorful political past where there no presidential candidates receiving the state’s electoral votes?
In 1864, when Louisiana left the Union during the Civil War, the state didn’t even participate in the presidential election. Ten other states offered up zero electoral votes as well. But in the end, Abraham Lincoln was still re-elected president by a very healthy margin.
And then in 1872, Louisiana’s electoral votes were actually rejected by the federal government due to irregularities. As such, the state’s votes were not included in the final electoral tally, although the state did technically support incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant, who went on to win re-election.
The disorder came largely from the election for governor that year and related accusations of votes being fabricated. Voters, in response, turned violent, thus prompting the federal government to get involved.

They said it
“I smell the food, I look at the fried chicken, I look at the greens, and you just talked about how damn good the gumbo is. … Tomorrow I’m taking my very first ever colonoscopy, and I can’t eat today.”
— Gov. John Bel Edwards, during an event at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, in The Advocate
“Sometimes you get the sense, as I travel around the country, that people think getting elected to office is a low-grade reality-show job.”
— National Urban League president and former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, at the same event, in The Advocate
For more Louisiana political news, visit or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.

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