House Speaker Jim Tucker, wishing to extend his political shelf life has announced he’ll try for the most boring elected job in state government – which also has attracted the most suitors to date – of secretary of state. He hasn’t realized he lost that contest three years ago.
Tucker referred to that moment when he addressed the Legislature’s attempt, driven by him, to pay Louisiana’s part-time legislators a full-time salary (ironically, he as speaker was one of the few already drawing full-time pay). Passing both chambers, Gov. Bobby Jindal, after declarations he would let the Legislature determine its members’ salaries, vetoed it amid strong public outcry for him to do so.
He called that issue a “red herring” and that the only mistake involved making it effective immediately instead of with the next batch of legislators. Which only again demonstrates the poor judgment Tucker has and that he still seems unable to fathom, or at least admit, the fundamentally flawed nature of the entire idea.
Purposefully, the Louisiana Constitution, just like those of 45 other states, intentionally desired for legislators to be part-timers, in the kinds of power and responsibilities it grants to the Legislature and its members. Part-time pay is intentional precisely to ensure that many legislators will have to earn their own livings and thereby force them outside of the insulated bubble of the state capitol. It is assumed that legislators will work harder as a result, because they are willing to make that sacrifice for the people they serve. If they create so much work that it seems to be full-time and burdensome to them, recognize they are not required to do so and still would govern effectively, probably better, without it. And if that seems too much for them on their salary, then they need to step aside and let any of a number of others who have a better attitude about this do the job.
Tucker never has seemed to understand this and by his remarks at his announcement still does not. It only reinforces a larger pattern concerning Tucker’s judgment, where he lets political ambition get in the way of sound thinking. As he approached the end of his House eligibility, Tucker began to show signs of this increasing unreliability, particularly during the last session. As a result, he made a bizarre procedural ruling that neutered pension reform, supported a counterproductive rule change, and for no reason other than he wanted to bargain for a competitive state Senate district to continue his legislative career held up the resolution of redistricting – all to try to position himself better for future political office.
In the past, Tucker often articulated conservatism and behaved by voting consistent with its core beliefs. But his naked thirst for political power makes him betray these principles, as in the case of the procedural motion and rules change, not to mention the pay raise issue. As such, this leaves him too unreliable for Republicans to support if more reliable conservatives appear on the ballot, as all indications suggest will happen come qualifying. Thus it was three years ago with the pay raise issue that his dyspepsia disqualifying him from serious consideration for this office began significantly to surface, and should prevent him from capturing it this fall.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:10