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Montgomery defeat to shake up Bossier political power

It seems that the Bossier side of the Red River doesn’t need any special elections to goose political maneuvering early in the 2007 election campaigns for the state Legislature – the results of which could prove crucial in the power composition in the parish.

First out of the box some months ago in campaigning for the House District 9 seat, to be vacated by incumbent state Rep. Billy Montgomery because of term limits, was Bossier/Webster Parish Truancy Center director Richey Jackson running as a Republican. Today, another candidate will join the fray, new Republican Henry Burns, a local business owner and current Bossier Parish School Board member.

While at first these developments may appear to present an abundance of riches for the local GOP, in fact they pose a quandary. Party activists wonder whether directly or indirectly whether one or both these two would fall prey to the disease local conservatives have been battling for years – RINO Rash

RINO – “Republican in Name Only” – Rash has infected a number of Bossier Parish government positions, such as the free-spending, fee-hungry Bossier City Council and tax-advocating Bossier Parish Police Jury, where elected officials calling themselves Republicans often act much more like liberal Democrats on taxing and spending issues. The carrier of this has been Montgomery who has impeccable good-old-boy, tax-and-spend credential from his earliest days beginning two decades ago in the Legislature.

Some local GOP stalwarts worry that Jackson is something of a political lightweight that might be too easily swayed by the courthouse crowd he has worked alongside who are invested in this ideology, and would abandon conservative principles under this pressure. (It also doesn’t help him that a number of north Bossier residents are mad at the parish for unfavorable zoning decisions at which his son, Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson, was in the center of the conflict. Nor will they be happy that that this election cycle that both Jacksons have given large campaign contributions to Montgomery.) But others worry that Burns, until a few months ago a lifelong Democrat and whose wife works as the legislative aide to Montgomery, also might fall susceptible to RINO Rash.

Of course, one thing that might inoculate Burns from it would be if Montgomery failed in his attempt to circumvent the spirit of term limits by trying to win the Senate District 37 seat now held by the term-limited state Sen. Max Malone. Lifelong Democrat Montgomery himself became a RINO precisely because he felt it would increase his chances to win the seat perhaps by trying to discourage other Republicans from running in what probably is the most conservative district in the Senate.

If that was his idea, it has blown up to the extent that he ought not make any plans beyond 2007. Two quality GOP candidates have entered that contest, local Republican official Jay Murrell and former state Rep. B.L. “Buddy” Shaw. (A third, previous District 6 House candidate Barrow Peacock, also is looking at the race.) With Shaw and Murrell in the contest, Montgomery might not even make the general election runoff.

Murrell already has launched an aggressive campaign highlighting the fiscally and socially conservative views he was known for as a radio talk show host. Already his visage graces billboards and his voice intones radio commercials, indicating that he has substantial financial support. Added to the mix is his emphasis that he represents a fresh start in government, in contrast to his veteran politician competitors both of whom years ago passed the age to qualify for Social Security benefits. (Because of these things, at least one local political scientist and blogger has endorsed him.)

Relative to Montgomery, Shaw has the advantage of showing he walked the walk as an unquestioned conservative in his eight years in the House, elected from a district comprised by this new one (by contrast, Montgomery’s current district overlaps only 9 percent in population terms this one). However, relative to Murrell his age and his status as a past legislator may work against him with an electorate becoming increasingly hostile this election cycle to anybody smacking of incumbency.

Montgomery’s problems may get worse. Rumors persist that a non-Republican also will enter the fray. If so, Democrats who might otherwise have voted for Montgomery as the least of the three offenders to their partisanship may gravitate to this kind of candidate (if credible), while Murrell and Shaw would lose few votes.

While for now election of either Burns or Jackson would be unpredictable relative to existing patterns of political power in Bossier, the old order currently running things there would lose were Shaw to defeat Montgomery, and especially if Murrell did. While Malone has a different idea of government’s purpose than does this crowd, Murrell likely much more actively would try to promote that agenda than has Malone. Thus, look for the old guard and it publicity agents to pull out all the stops to defeat any conservative Republican running in Bossier Parish.


Anonymous said...

Montgomery beats Murrell. Shaw is a no show (ala Vernon Adams and Malone in the Mayors race). Peacock stays out. The mystery other stays out. In the end Murrell is crazy and his strong financial backing is, to date, his own money. Billy, like him or hate him, has almost three times that on hand now. And the endorsedment from a local blog hack does not help Jay.

Jackson destroys Burns. Again, all the money with Jackson. The north Bossier zoning issue is a non factor since that is Jane's district. And to think Jackson would give in to anyone means you have not talked with him for any length of time. He is definitely his own guy.

Any more posts like this one and I await the Murrell/Sadow wedding announcement....

Jeff Sadow said...

Maybe you should ask around about some polling (not done by either camp) concerning the 37th district contest ...

Something else you may not understand is that, after a certain point, money ceases to matter. In a contest at this level, If an "incumbent" has $100K and a challenger $20K, the challenger has little chance. But $100K in the challenger's account is all he needs to get the necessary name recognition to put him on equal terms; then it's up to how well he campaigns. Just ask Bill Cassidy ...

You must be with the Montgomery camp since he had roughly $135K according to his annual report and you imply he's got a lot more (hate to break it to you, but Jay's raising some money not his own, too ...). After a certain point, those returns diminish dramatically, a point already reached in this contest, again provided that the opponent runs a good campaign. Just ask William Daniel ...

Shaw will make an impact but his strategy is a lot of walking and not much media. He will be hurt by the same thing that Montgomery badly underestimates, voter discontent at "incumbents" whether present or past. These will relegate him out of a runoff.

If Burns can reach that critical level, he will be competitive. And you don't seem to be aware there are a number of people upset over the north Bossier zoning decisions who don't live around there. The "sins" of the son should not wash over the father, but to some extent they will.

As far as perceptions of Jackson pater, I merely report what I see and hear from those expressing an opinion about this race.

Anonymous said...

I am a conservative Republican but I have to give Montgomery an "at a boy". When the banks of Flat River were sliding in north Bossier, the Feds promised funding (as well as Breaux's office. At the last minute, the Fed's stated they could not fund project. Even thought the problem was out of his district, Montgomery went to Baton Rouge and was able to obtain funds to stabilize the banks.

There are forty property owners who appreciate his efforts. You can label him any way you want but he gets things done.

Jeff Sadow said...

This is the attitude among enough people Montgomery hopes will save him in this contest -- that he gets stuff done like this. But, guess what? Anybody elected to that office would have done exactly the same for you. Meanwhile, he continues to do other things that he doesn't want you to know about that are against your interests.

Wouldn't you rather have somebody in office that votes the way you want them to and will respond to situations like the one you had?

Anonymous said...

Tell me more about Barrow Peacock . . . what's his background? Is he really a conservative Republican?