Louisiana Politics: Big Louisiana names still have a shot at Trump cabinet
President-elect Donald Trump still has some top jobs to fill and there are a few Louisiana politicians who are about to be jobless.
So it’s only natural that the rumor mill is still churning out possibilities, starting with outgoing U.S. Sen. David Vitter.
Would Vitter make a good fit for a gig in the Treasury D epartment? That’s the suggestion from Fortune journalist Chris Matthews, who wrote Vitter into one his stories a couple weeks ago.
“One avenue Trump might take to strike a balance would be to nominate a high-ranking Republican Congressmen with a history of taking a skeptical stance toward Wall Street,” wrote Matthews, “like Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who has supported measures that would break up too-big to fail banks, and is planning to retire from the Senate this year.”
Not to be outdone, outgoing Congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, is reportedly a on a shortlist to possibly be Trump’s chief U.S. trade negotiator, according to Politico.
The insider D.C. publication noted that Boustany “has long been a trade advocate in Congress and sits on the House Ways and Means Committee… The lawmaker has had a keen interest in the issue, especially as it relates to the oil and gas interests of his south Louisiana district.”
Plus, there are those who helped Trump on the ground in the Bayou State.
Two of those top players were Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, chairman of the Louisiana for Trump campaign, and Louisiana for Trump Executive Director Ryan Lambert.
Skrmetta said he sent Trump’s transition team “the names of highly qualified individuals from Louisiana who are interested in serving the nation and our 45th president.”
Then there’s retired U.S. Navy commander John Wells, a Slidell-based attorney whose practice focuses on military and veterans issues. Following Trump’s election, a grassroots efforts was launched to have Wells appointed as veterans affairs secretary.
The executive director of the nonprofit Military-Veterans Advocacy, Wells has the support of some members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation and his bid has been endorsed by the St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee.
“There’s no doubt Cdr. Wells would represent the president-elect’s vision and help fulfill Mr. Trump’s promises of reform in the V.A.,” said St. Tammany RPEC chairman Larry Frieman. “Our servicemen and women and our veterans have given their best to the United States, and they need representation from someone like John to ensure we give our best back to them.”
As of Thanksgiving weekend, Trump had made several White House hires already and nominated a number of cabinet heads already, including philanthropist Betsy DeVos for education secretary.
While not from Louisiana, DeVos does have firm political ties to the Bayou State. In addition to donating money to candidates in Louisiana, she heads the American Federation for Children, which is the parent organization for the Louisiana Federation for Children.
Trump has also nominated the following individuals:
— South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations
— Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas as CIA director
— Investor Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary
— U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama for attorney general
JBE for president?
At a meeting hosted two weeks ago, on Nov. 14, in Lake Charles by the Southwest Louisiana Republican Roundtable, Calcasieu Clerk of Court Lynn Jones made a bold prediction.
“John Bel Edwards is going to end up running for president,” Jones said. “You watch. Democrats are going to have to start looking elsewhere for a new kind of candidate. If he can get re-elected governor, there’s going to be a push.”
Maybe the Boston Globe was listening to Jones that night, because two days later reporter James Pindell posted a story online entitled “20 candidates who could run in 2020 — Democrats and Republicans.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards was the first name on the list.
“If Democrats believe they need the ‘bubba vote’ — a.k.a. white, working-class men — they could look to Edwards, who was elected last year as Louisiana’s governor,” Pindell wrote, adding, “Edwards would also run into the same bad timing that former governor Bobby Jindal faced: He would need to figure out how to seek reelection in Louisiana in 2019 and essentially run for president at the same time. Jindal passed on 2012 for this reason.”
Political history: from
La. to the White House
November not only saw the election of Donald Trump, but it also marked the 168th anniversary of Zachary Taylor becoming the first president ever elected from Louisiana.
Actually, Taylor’s election on November 7, 1848, remains the only instance on record where a Louisiana resident managed to be selected to become commander-in-chief.
What was remarkable about that 1848 election was the fact that it was the first presidential contest to be held on the same day in every single state. It was a new law at the time — that presidential elections must be held on Tuesdays.
Abraham Lincoln campaigned on behalf of the Louisiana politician, who in turn offered only vague replies to questions about foreign and domestic policy. Taylor got elected largely on his reputation as a war hero.
Taylor also became only the second president to die while in office. In 1850, after having iced milk and raw fruit at a holiday celebration, he was diagnosed with cholera morbus.
While other cabinet members fell ill with similar symptoms, rumors persisted for generations that Taylor was actually the target of an assassin. Tests were conducted on his remains in the 1980s at the University of Florida, but no evidence of poisoning was found.
They said it
“I’ll buy you a hamburger.”
—U.S. Senate candidate Foster Campbell, inviting young voter at a “punk club rally” to visit with him, in The New York Times
“He’s tapped into what we would call the zeitgeist.”
—University of Louisiana at Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross, on U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy appealing to Donald Trump supporters, in The Times-Picayune
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.