Louisiana Politics: State senator revs up campaign for treasurer

If there were any questions about state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, running for state treasurer in the fall, a few key staffing decisions he made recently should put all of that to rest.
Riser said in an interview last week the he has hired Sally Nungesser as his fundraising coordinator and conservative operative Rhett Davis as his general consultant.
Jonathan Johnson, the state director for former Congressman Rodney Alexander, is also Riser’s first official staff hire for the not-yet-announced campaign.
Nungesser, for her part, is already hard at work. Riser’s treasurer campaign has a fundraiser scheduled for the first day of the special session.
There should also be some official movement soon from Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, and Angele Davis, president and CEO of the Davis Kelley Group. Both women have been holding high-level meetings.
Former House Speaker Chuck Kleckley of Lake Charles, meanwhile, is out. He let friends and family know his decision last week.
“Thanks to all the kind people that have contacted me about running for state treasurer,” Kleckley said in a written statement. “While, I enjoy public service and working for the people of Louisiana. My decision is to continue growing my governmental relations practice with the great team at Adams and Reese.”
Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, had a team in place earlier this month prior to his official announcement for treasurer.
Jay Vicknair, who has consulted for former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and former U.S. Sen. David Vitter, is serving as Schroder’s campaign manager. Alle Bautsch, who came up during former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s rise, is leading Schroder’s fundraising.
Lionel Rainey, fresh from working for U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s 2016 campaign, is Schroder’s senior strategist and John Diez, one of the architects behind the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, has been tapped to head up polling and research.
Other possible candidates include Derrick Edwards, a New Orleans attorney and quadriplegic; Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Mandeville; Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte; Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger, D-New Orleans; retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness of Mandeville; and Acadiana health care executive Gus Rantz of Lafayette.

Elevator talk
with John Kennedy
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy had a “supreme” moment as he was walking by the elevators in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington last week.
He bumped into President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
Kennedy had actually been reading all of the judge’s legal briefs.
“One of the things the senator told him was that he loved the fact that his writing style was something that could be easily understood and interpreted by the average person and not just a bunch of legalese that only the select few could decipher,” said Kennedy spokesperson Michelle Millhollon. “In short, he liked that his opinions and writings were easy to understand and clear.”
As for the next time they meet, Kennedy intends to appeal to Gorsuch, an outdoorsman, to visit Louisiana for a bit of fishing, she added.
Kennedy actually became one of several media surrogates for Gorsuch last week and appeared on CNN and NPR to offer defenses for the pick.

Political history: The
first female treasurer
No, it wasn’t former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. She was the second woman to serve as Louisiana’s treasurer.
With a fall special election gearing up for state treasurer, this is an answer to a history question we should all know: Who was the first woman treasurer elected in Louisiana?
It was Mary Evelyn Parker, who passed away at the age of 94 two years ago (Jan. 17, 2015).
She was a trusted advisor to late Gov. Earl K. Long and she served in several appointed positions in state government before moving to elected office.
Before that, Parker stayed close to home in Allen Parish, working as the personnel director at Camp Claiborne and as the editor of The Oakdale Journal.
She truly stepped into the political world in 1948 when Long asked her to voice his campaign’s radio commercials. In very short order Long appointed her as the executive director of the Louisiana Department of Commerce and Industry and she ran unsuccessfully as the register of state lands.
Late Gov. John McKeithen also sought out Parker’s help when he ran for governor and won.
Parker gave legendary speeches on behalf of McKeithen on the campaign trail and one of those speeches, “All That Glitters Is Not Gold,” was televised statewide. She came into her own during that campaign and warmly embraced the role of “hatchet woman.”
It was in 1967 that McKeithen put his weight behind Parker’s candidacy for treasurer.
Parker, for her part, hired a young and untested consultant named Raymond Strother — and both built careers off of that race.
Strother became one of the best known operatives in the South and Parker served as treasurer until 1987.

They said it
“Every month, it’s a fire drill.”
— Freshman state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, on the state’s fiscal condition
“It was literally a House call.”
—Congressman Ralph Abraham, a vet and physician, after saving the life of a colleague’s poodle, in The Monroe News-Star
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.

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