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LA clout boosted with Johnson ascension

The news of Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond’s impending resignation for a White House gig overshadowed what will become a more consequential and longer-term promotion within the state’s congressional delegation that will amplify the state’s clout in Washington for perhaps decades to come.

Having Richmond serve as a top aide in – assuming this holds true after various legal controversies and ballot recounts – a Democrat former Vice Pres. Joe Biden Administration certainly will give the state inroads into the highest levels of the executive branch. But, realistically, this won’t last long. Biden seems unlikely to serve more than one term – if even that long – and Richmond may not even stick around that long.

As for the other majoritarian branch, last week in Republican House caucus elections Louisiana saw First District GOP Rep. Steve Scalise reelected whip without dissent, in power behind only California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader. McCarthy thus stands in line to become House Speaker in 2023, with the result of the 2022 midterm elections widely expected to erase Democrats’ narrow advantage to make the GOP the majority. Scalise, then, would become the second most powerful House member.


LA left aims to poach PSC, BESE seats

Louisiana’s political left hopes to steal some influence through upcoming elections for collective state executive organs.

First up comes a runoff election Dec. 5 for Public Service Commission District 1, with Republican incumbent Eric Skrmetta challenged by trial lawyer Democrat Allen Borne. The GOP holds a 3-2 advantage.

Skrmetta on the PSC has participated in an era that has seen Louisiana electricity rates paid (except in Orleans Parish, where the City Council regulates power provision) fall steeply relative to other states. He ran a lackadaisical campaign six years ago against an environmental leftist who qualified as a Republican, and only narrowly won reelection. This time, he ran more energetically and was rewarded by cruising into the runoff over some spirited competition.


Natl results spell trouble for LA Democrats

Louisiana Democrats received bad news going forward about their statewide prospects from the 2020 elections, both in state and nationally.

In a year that supposedly some “blue wave” would swamp the country, little evidence of that showed up nationally and in Louisiana. At the national level, while Democrats likely narrowly won the presidency, they likely barely kept control of the House of Representative and likely gained hardly any Senate seats, too few to take control of the chamber.

Specific to Louisiana, Republican Pres. Donald Trump received about the same proportion of the vote as he did in 2016, 58 percent. Republican members of the House cruised to reelection, with only the Second District’s Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond chalking up one for his party in a district drawn heavily in the party’s favor. Incumbent GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy easily dispatched a baker’s dozen of opponents, with Democrat endorsee Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins drawing a humiliating 19 percent of the vote and candidates running under the party label obtaining just 35 percent total.


Bridge toll poll brings out demagoguery

Word about continuing efforts to build a toll bridge to replace the Jimmie Davis Bridge shook up south Bossier City and some of its politicians, underscored by looming city council elections.

Last week, a firm styling itself Opinion Strategies called from an upstate New York area code to quiz area residents about their approval of a new bridge for State Highway 511 that crosses the Red River. The survey operated in “push poll” fashion, with questions and their ordering designed to entice positive responses.

The impetus for this likely came from a Louisiana Transportation Authority meeting in June. There, the firm United Bridge Partners made an unsolicited pitch to build a four-lane bridge, remove the old two-lane bridge, and then collect the revenue from it for 75 years while not exporting any costs to the state. The more the state contributed up front, the lower the tolls would be, although the company declined to reveal tolling prices.


Reduced prospects, Biden need entice Richmond

Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond’s risky intended departure from Congress reveals both something about his own personal political ambitions and the precariousness of a putative former vice president Joe Biden presidential administration.

With Biden inching closer to winning the recent presidential election, Richmond said he would resign soon to take an unspecified but senior role in the White House, but obviously only if Biden’s victory withstands legal challenges. If this comes to pass, he gives up much.

By doing this, Richmond trades out essentially a job for life. He also forfeits the chance to orbit among the most influential Democrats in Congress, having already headed up the Congressional Black Caucus that makes up almost a quarter of Democrats in the House of Representatives and still is relatively young with plenty of upside. Being a pal of Biden’s – he co-led his campaign committee – would have magnified his power further in the chamber.


Edwards vetoes for bogus, politicized reasons

Always count on Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to politicize matters instead of relying on principle that better serves the people.

That tendency he put on display again when he vetoed from the 2020 Second Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature two helpful bills. One, SB 20, would have changed the emergency elections procedure to increase its flexibility.

Under current law, under an emergency the secretary of state can propose temporary changes to the election code with the force of law. These then would have to obtain legislative and gubernatorial approval. The change would have allowed a pair of chamber panels meeting together to suggest changes to the secretary that it would approve before the entire chamber and governor would review. It also gave the chambers the option of overriding a gubernatorial veto.


Ludicrous petition ruling defies common sense

It was such a ludicrous decision concerning Louisiana Revised Statute 29:768 that the exceptionally poor reasoning involved seems unlikely to be a product of mere blundering.

Last week, Republican 19th District Judge William Morvant declared part of this law unconstitutional. It allowed one house of the Legislature to end gubernatorially-declared states of public health emergencies, which the House did in late October to the then-extant proclamation made by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards concerning the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

Morvant clearly wanted nothing to do with it, as indicated by an attempt to sidestep the whole controversy. He made two distinct rulings, the first that the matter was moot because the petition addressed proclamation 134 JBE 2020, and that had expired with replacement by 158 JBE 2020.


Left misdiagnoses LA amendment defeats

And this is why the Louisiana left doesn’t win elections in aggregate.

The state’s electorate made subpar decisions to vote down Amendments #4 and #5 earlier this month, at the urging of the political left. The former would have changed the formula that computes the state’s annual spending limit and put a potential five percent cap on it, while the latter would have made it more practical for entities to enter into payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangements with local governments.

Neither would have made more than a marginal change. The new formula over the past few years would have resulted in smaller potential expenditures increases, and none of its results in recent years would have hit the proposed percentage cap – which, because of an up-and-down revenue picture never got close to hitting the overall dollar cap, which the Legislature twice moved downwards as permitted by a two-thirds vote. And PILOTs already are being constructed across the state, but some owners hesitate to transfer property title to the local governments in question.


Veterans Day, 2020

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Wednesday, Nov. 11 being Veterans' Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.


Don't count on Edwards, Richmond leaving soon

Are they staying or are they going? Chances are the former for Democrats Gov. John Bel Edwards and Rep. Cedric Richmond, but for different reasons.

With more certainty that Democrat former Vice Pres. Joe Biden will secure enough electoral votes to win election to the White House, speculation has started about the futures of the two most prominent Democrats in the state, that they could move on to jobs in a future Biden Administration. Richmond is a Biden friend and co-chairman of his campaign, while Edwards is the party’s only governor in the deep south, a region that Democrats hoped to improve upon their performance but instead, outside of the razor-thin presidential contest in Georgia, as a whole underperformed.

But Richmond has plenty of reasons to stay in his post, starting with it’s his job for life that could lead to a prominent congressional career. Already having headed the Congressional Black Caucus, within a decade he could be jockeying for party leadership in the chamber. Additionally, over the next four years he could wield much influence particularly from 2023-24 because of his friendship with Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, the second-ranking Republican. With Democrats barely holding onto a House majority, history assures the GOP will take control of the House in two years, and because of a White House connection Richmond will be the most powerful Democrat when they become the minority with his ability to grab Scalise’s ear.