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Ambitions hinted at for term-limited LA legislators

To their brethren in office, term-limited politicians are like veterans of wars prosecuted by undemocratic states in order to distract people from their lack of freedom: no longer combatants but trained for action, their persons forever altered by the experience to accept combat as normal, they seek ways to use their acquired skills, even against their comrades in power. Just so Louisiana now faces this situation in this election year.

While some members of the Legislature understand how extended service could cause deterioration of their accountability and impoverish truly representative government, which leads to their retirement, others do not and, like mercenaries, scour the landscape for another battle to fight. This cycle, seven senators and 11 representatives find themselves in this situation.

Their annual reports, required of anybody with a non-zero balance in an active campaign finance account, can give some hint as to future intentions. Of the 18 term-limited legislators, several give clues as to what they want to do next through these forms (note that the outcome of reapportionment might change some presumed thinking here):
  •  Democrat State Rep. Damon Baldone indicates he wants a rematch for Senate District 20 with Sen. Norby Chabert who defeated him in a special election last year – fueling speculation Chabert might flip to the GOP by qualifying time
  • State Rep. Kay Katz left her intended office blank, raised about $25,000 last year and spent around 60 percent of it, and has nearly $50,000 in the bank, but she would be an ill-suited candidate given the demographics to challenge for Senate District 34 holder Francis Thompson – although those district lines are subject to change …
  • State Rep. Jane Smith already has announced she will vie for the open Senate District 37 seat of retiring Buddy Shaw, but has less than $15,000 bankrolled for that – even though she does not indicate that office on her form
  • Also blank is Republican House Speaker Jim Tucker’s office sought, and with nearly $200,000 socked away, surely he does have some progressive ambition here – perhaps putting Democrat state Sen. David Heitmeier on notice in whose district Tucker currently lives
  • State Sen. Butch Gautreaux may show Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne may have drawn a candidate already, apparently trying for that office again after his defeat by Dardenne in the special election last fall – but his less than $1,000 in the bank would indicate this may just be winding down from that attempt rather than a rerun
  • As mentioned in a previous post, Democrat Sen. Pres. Joel Chaisson has an interest in an unspecified statewide office, likely against the most vulnerable of those officeholders unelected Republican Sec. of State Tom Schedler who has raised no money and already has drawn a challenger or Republican Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell
  •  State Sen. Willie Mount does not mention anything but her present office, but, like Smith, she has announced for another, the recently-vacated office of Calcasieu Parish Assessor – and is off to a great start with $466,000 or so in the bank for that
But, as Smith’s and Mount’s examples above show and like mutual fund prospectuses read, concerning these forms prior behavior is no guarantee of future performance. For example, even though state Rep. Gary Smith lists no office but his current one, he sat on over $160,000 at the end of 2010 – right about the same amount state Sen. Mike Michot reported without listing any office other than his current post (although he admits his mind wanders to secretary of state). And state Sen. Rob Marionneaux has over $200,000 in his campaign kitty without mentioning anything beyond his present post (although he may wish to lay low due to recent allegations). No doubt some ambiguity was prompted in these forms by the uncertainties of redistricting, where these individuals might not know what they can try for; by way of example, Gary Smith lives in Chaisson’s district, but that may not exist after the end of this year.

So the wanderings of these veterans of the political wars ought to interest political observers, but only after redistricting has been completed, probably by the end of April, will we see where the carousel stops and they proceed to exit, pirouette, and then get on again in the places they seek to extend their political careers.


1 comment: said...

There are six term-limited state senators: Marrionneaux; Chaisson; Gautreaux; Michot; Mount; McPherson.