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Tucker likely and best choice for LA House speaker

Recently I wrote of the leadership battle brewing in the Louisiana Senate. Republicans cannot realistically hope to bag that position despite incoming Gov. Bobby Jindal being Republican because of the relatively large gap between parties in incoming Senate strength.

But even if the GOP does not take the Louisiana House, bet on state Rep. Jim Tucker taking the Speaker’s position. Enough seats are up for grabs so that either party could be in the majority come January, but using the metric I developed to measure partisanship of districts (that is, without an incumbent running Democrats win if their registered voters outnumber Republicans’ 8:3, and vice-versa), I would predict a 55-50 effective Democrat majority (there are likely to be two independents elected, one each leaning to the major parties).

Despite the Democrat lead, this indicates the leader of the Republican caucus Tucker is in the best position to take the gavel. With Republican Jindal as governor and the fact that a few Democrat newcomers lean to the moderate side and will want to increase their influence by siding with the governor’s party, Tucker can expect a few crossover votes with otherwise close if not perfect party loyalty from Republicans in a chamber leadership vote.

Only if the Democrats do really well in the House elections might this scenario fail to manifest, with the favorite to assume the top job being state Rep. Don Cazayoux. Either way, look for the majority of committee chairmanships to go to Democrats unless Republicans get a majority but if not, still a substantial minority of those top panel positions will go to Republicans.

Even as he talks publicly of not intervening in legislative leadership contests, the stakes are too high for Jindal to remain completely out of these determinations. He has struck a theme of bipartisanship, so behind the scenes Jindal forces likely would signal approval of a GOP-lead House with a slight majority of Democrat chairmen, and a Democrat-led Senate with the same balance of committee heads. Tucker would constitute a great choice to assist Jindal and for the state and it seems unlikely Jindal would sit out a contest where Tucker's election would be in doubt.

That will create an interesting but not unprecedented situation. Under GOP Gov. Mike Foster’s second term split control of the Legislature’s leadership existed with Democrat Charlie DeWitt as Speaker and Republican John Hainkel as President (who as a Democrat has been Speaker years earlier). Reversed, it’s a formula that well could appear again.

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