Louisiana Politics: Race for treasurer is revving up

By JEREMY ALFORD LaPolitics.com

With U.S. Sen.-elect John Kennedy preparing a move to Washington, the list of names of who might replace him as treasurer in Louisiana seems to be growing with each passing day.
Kennedy took 69 percent of the vote over Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell on the state’s pre-Christmas runoff ballot, which means a special election for treasurer will have to be called soon.
Former state House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, a Republican from Lake Charles, told LaPolitics that he might be a candidate for the post.
“It’s something I would consider,” said Kleckley, who now works for the law firm of Adams & Reese.
Also looking at the race is Acadiana health care executive Gus Rantz, who placed fifth in the primary for the 3rd Congressional District last month.
Meanwhile, state Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, has been building his campaign for a few months and has said he intends to be a candidate in the special election.
Also from the House, Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Metairie, recently held a fundraiser in New Orleans to test the waters and could make her final decision soon.
Sens. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, and Neil Riser, R-Columbia, and Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Mandeville, are said to be seriously looking at the race as well.

Briggs still recovering
Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs has been relocated to an inpatient rehabilitation facility in Houston after sustaining a serious head injury while on vacation in North Carolina in October.
“According to his physicians, his health is progressing daily and prognosis is good for recovery,” said LOGA Vice President Gifford Briggs, who is serving as the association’s interim president pending Don Briggs’ return.

Pro-JBE PAC releases poll
Rebuild Louisiana, the political action committee supporting the efforts of Gov. John Bel Edwards, has a new poll in hand from the Washington-based Anzalone Liszt Grove that tests not only the governor but also some of his key issues.
The poll was conducted with 617 live telephone interviews with likely voters in Louisiana between Nov. 28 and Dec. 1. The margin of sampling error is +/-3.9 percent.
It suggests that Edwards’ positive job rating has reached 66 percent. The most recent poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research, based in Baton Rouge, had it at 62 percent.
Edwards also got high marks — 74 percent — for his handling of this year’s floods in the Anzalone poll.
Likely to cause at least a minor dustup for the warring factions involved are the numbers that show 61 percent to 62 percent of the respondents were in favor of Edwards’ position on a lawsuit against oil and gas companies and his executive order to ban discrimination against LGBT citizens.
On the latest budget shortfall, 54 percent of poll participants blamed “too many tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy” and 37 percent cited “not enough spending cuts.”

Race to replace Genovese
Now that Jimmy Genovese is headed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the race to claim his seat on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal can begin.
The special election has been called for March 25.
The first candidate out of the gate is Candyce Perret, a Lafayette attorney and small business owner who already has a campaign structure.
Former state Sen. Mike Michot will serve as her campaign chair, Marie Centanni has been tapped as campaign manager, Jared Arsement is handling media and Nicole DesOrmeaux is on fundraising.

Pinchback was the first
Last Friday marked the 144th anniversary (Dec. 9, 1872) of Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback taking his oath of office in Louisiana to become the first politician of African descent to serve as a U.S. governor.
P.B.S. Pinchback, a Republican, was the Bayou State’s 24th governor and served for only 35 days during the impeachment trial of Henry Clay Warmoth. While Warmoth stepped aside as governor during this period, he was never convicted of charges that he fraudulently certified the 1872 gubernatorial election.
That 1872 race certainly goes down as one of Louisiana’s strangest elections for governor, with John McEnery and William Pitt Kellogg both declaring victory and both holding inaugurations. McEnery actually served in office for roughly four months before President Ulysses S. Grant certified Kellogg as governor and offered him federal protection during the state’s Reconstruction era.
While it’s well known that Louisiana had the first African-American governor in the nation, it’s often overlooked that Pinchback was also among the youngest. He was just 35 years old when he was sworn in.

They said it
“Through it all, Wendy has been so enormously patient and supportive and understanding – not to mention being the life of every Team Vitter party, leading the rounds (rounds, plural) of Fireball shots.”
—U.S. Sen. David Vitter, during his farewell address from the Senate floor
“No matter if we gave you a billion dollars or a billion-and-a-half dollars, it wouldn’t be enough money.”
—Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, to state health officials
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.

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