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Second spot choices show mixed results for reform

Looks like questions are getting answered concerning recent potential leadership changes in the state, in a way mixed for political reform.

One was Sec. of State Jay Dardenne’s announced entry into the lieutenant governor’s contest this fall to succeed Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu who will be assuming his new elective office of New Orleans mayor in early May. This is a clear sign that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s hope of savings some bucks and streamlining government through elimination of the nearly-useless office is likely to fail.

Since it would require a constitutional amendment which means at least two-thirds of each chamber of the Legislature must approve followed by a majority vote of the people – a referendum that would occur at the same time as the election to fill the unexpired spot in question – that Dardenne, whose current office likely would inherit some of the duties of the abolished office and become the new successor to the governor if that office disappears, does not fear leaving his current spot only to find his new job is disappearing into his old. This means his political intelligence must have the bill probably never making it out of the Legislature.

Of course, if somehow it does by the end of the session near the end of June and he feels it could get voter approval, he always could fail to qualify shortly thereafter. Still, this would require spending a decent chunk of money campaigning to that point so he must feel the odds are not in the favor of legislative approval.

The other was the apparent imminent appointment of state Rep. Joel Robideaux to the Speaker Pro-Tem position in the state House. With the body split essentially evenly between Republican and Democrats but with Speaker Jim Tucker being a Republican, to honor this close division somebody from the GOP could not realistically be favored by Tucker. Robideaux is one of three independents in the House.

Black and younger Democrat state Rep. Rick Gallot and old-timer white Democrat Noble Ellington also declared intentions for the post, but not only appear to be splitting the support among Democrats. Further, some Acadiana Democrats (Robideaux is from the Lafayette area) are lending support to the nonpartisan (Gallot and Ellington are from north Louisiana). This gives plenty of capital for Tucker to forward Robideaux’s name and for the latter to win the leadership election at the commencement of the session.

This is good news for reformers, of which Gallot and Ellington are anything but, and ironic for Republicans. Robideaux ran as an independent only because of an internecine feud within the local GOP and while maintaining that label after his special election win in 2004 votes fairly reliably with Republicans. Thus, what at the time looked like an embarrassing defeat for the party actually turns to its advantage now. This ascension also would make Robideaux a favorite to become the new Speaker after Tucker leaves on term limits after 2011.

Reformers might be nonplussed at the dim prognosis of the amendment regarding the second slot in the executive branch, but getting Robideaux in the second slot in the House, even if it largely is symbolic in terms of wielding real power, is as good as reformers could have hoped for at any time during the life of this Legislature.

1 comment:

James S said...

Anybody but gallot or the inappropriately named ellington for pro tem!