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Speakership derby can do without disingenuous Greene

So now joining the field – assuming any of them can get reelected – of a couple of Republicans, a Democrat, and an independent for next term’s Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives is a flim-flam man.

That would be state Rep. Hunter Greene, who three months ago didn’t even want to be in the House. Continuing his quest begun in 2008 for a job as an elected official in with full-time pay, the Republican tried to land a job as a family court judge. Problem was, he couldn’t win the election so I guess now the full-time job he wants is House Speaker (the top two officials in each body are paid full-time salaries; everybody else has to make do on $1,400 a month plus a $500 monthly allowance plus a per diem for every day in session or on committee worked plus mileage expenses – in busier years this can approach $30,000, so that’s not bad for a part-time job).

This should be a nonstarter. Not only does Greene have trouble with facts – even when corrected he continues to repeat the same falsehoods – but he also likes to say one thing while working to do another, such as cloaking a stealth future tax increase by refusing to cut taxes and spending in the present.
Outgoing Speaker Jim Tucker might be devious, but at least he could be trusted. These episodes show you can trust Greene less than Lucy saying to Charlie Brown she won’t yank the football away at the last second.

Of the rest, scratch Democrat state Rep. Jeff Arnold. No doubt he’d like the job and was one of the staunchest defenders of the vetoed raise to full-time pay for a part-time job – he whined how he had turned down a better job outside of the House just so he could stay in it. He might be pals with Tucker and he’ll get some stuff right such as defunding corporate welfare for newspapers, but he’s all over the place (witness his Louisiana Legislature rankings in 2008 of 40, in 2009 of 65, and in 2010 of 80) and if Republicans come back with about 60 seats as expected they are just not going to give a Democrat the power to run the joint. Few would be expected to support him if they have a non-Democrat choice.

Current Speaker Pro-Tempore state Rep. Joel Robideaux might make a good default candidate. Officially no party, that might win him some votes and he votes reliably Republican. Again, whether that’s enough to appease Republicans, especially the expected dozen or more newcomers who will owe in part their election to having that label and probably are more suspicious of anybody who has been there more than one term, is another matter.

That leaves state Reps. Chuck Kleckley and Erich Ponti, neither who supported the unwise palliative in House Rule 7.19 of too much dedication of revenues in making more difficult how much money can be scooped from idle funds, although Ponti visibly led a movement against that. If that counts for anything, it might make Kleckley favored among the pair because the rule did pass meaning more representatives – although the majority of them being Democrats – voted for it, and Ponti is associated with repealing the rule.

But issues of the rule or pay raise will not be the determining factors. In the selection for this, which pits all candidates against each other and if nobody gets a majority, the top two go into a runoff just like the blanket primary system that got them into the House, party and personality matter the most. As long as no other Democrat, especially black (whose numbers should be well more than half the party’s representation come next January’s organizational session), jumps in, Arnold has a good shot at making the runoff. But whoever makes it there against him almost certainly wins, for defections based upon friendship and the like would not be enough to overcome superior GOP numbers.

If Arnold doesn’t get there the most likely to take his place so to speak would be Robideaux. He would win in a runoff against anybody, because he would pick up a lot of Democrat support and enough Republicans. So if Republicans in label want to retain the speakership, they probably need to coalesce around a single candidate to make sure Robideaux gets aced out of the runoff.

That’s probably not the self-serving, disingenuous Greene. So, over the next few months, look for Ponti, Kleckley, and perhaps others from the GOP to lobby their comrades, then turn their attention to incoming freshmen after October and, by the end of the year, the process likely will produce a consensus Republican.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Greene is a nice man originally from Shreveport.

Jeff Sadow said...

I'm sure he's a great guy at a personal level. His communications with me did not lead me to think otherwise. But mendacity as a politician is not something we want or should tolerate from the head of the LA House of Representatives.