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Long political winter seems in offing for Nungesser, Tucker

Awhile back, I made some observations about the future of major candidates for statewide office, all Republicans, and where they might be in the political universe after the elections if winners. For the winners, being that they did win and potentially thereby take another step in their political careers, the remarks obviously stand. But what of the losers?

The losing duo are Plaquemines Parish Pres. Billy Nungesser, who lost to incumbent Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and House Speaker Jim Tucker, who lost to incumbent (if prior to it unelected) Sec. of State Tom Schedler. In the previous piece, I noted that a win by either would embolden them to seek higher office eventually, perhaps even to run for governor at the end of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s second term. But they didn’t.

Nungesser could have tried to get there by tapping into the retreating but still present strain of populism that has served as a hallmark of Louisiana’s political culture – but in a conservative version, railing against big government and career politicians.


Jindal chooses well on speaker, stands aside for president

Election dust really hadn’t settled before Gov. Bobby Jindal announced who he backed to become the next leaders of the Louisiana House and Senate, in part to catch a wave, in part to create one, with the risks and rewards all that entails.

His House preference was the more productive and understandable for his agenda, even as a slightly better candidate might have been disregarded for fans of conservatism and reform. State Rep. Chuck Kleckley got the nod, with a Louisiana Legislature Log voting index score of just under 74 (higher scores denote greater conservative and reformism) over the past term, over state Rep. Joel Robideaux, the present Speaker pro-Tem and who scored over 77 on the LLL index. Both are Republicans, although Robideaux only recently switched from no party, and both exceeded the average LLL score for chamber Republicans of just over 70.

Besides good conservative credentials, Kleckley showed wisdom in voting against House Rule 7.19 last session, a counterproductive internal chamber rule for Republicans, which disallows unless reaching a two-thirds majority, among other things, use of money deposited in most state funds for current operations if this pushes total spending above forecasted total revenue available.


Election results point to big reformer gains on BESE

As its members sift through election returns, Louisiana’s education establishment should become increasingly nervous as reform forces are favored to exercise considerable power on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education over the next four years.

Already, reform forces have captured a BESE majority. Combined with the three gubernatorial appointees of freshly-reelected Gov. Bobby Jindal, who will ensure on his watch that they will align with the reform efforts, three members elected last weekend, incumbent Jim Garvey and newcomers Jay Guillot and Holly Boffy comprise six of the eleven members. Reform forces suffered a setback when incumbent Democrat Glenny Lee Buquet got defeated by Republican establishmentarian candidate Lottie Beebe.

Add to the mix the only candidate who ran unopposed, Walter Lee, who in the past aligned with the establishment but has hinted that blowing winds might make him less reliably so, and the lineup looks 6-2 favoring reform. But in the three undecided contests, odds favor in each candidates who express mild to wild enthusiasm for reform.


LA GOP success strengthens incumbency advantage

Unless you had a seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Louisiana’s fall general election was a great time to be an incumbent. These results have implication for the partisan balance and composition of the Legislature in the future.

At the statewide level, while three BESE incumbents lost, two Democrats and a recent switcher from that party, all other statewide office incumbents, Republicans, won, even though only two faced quality competition and those challengers also shared the GOP label. Two other BESE incumbents faced a runoff, with the Democrat of the two vulnerable (to another Democrat). Most significantly, Sec. of State Tom Schedler, considered the weakest of the seven statewide officials because he has never run a statewide campaign before (having taken over the office when its previous occupant Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne took that job, and who successfully defended his spot in the other competitive challenge this election), held onto to his against a better financed opponent.

Incumbent near-invulnerability applied to the legislative level as well.


Meaning of 'R' and of endorsements in LA state elections

So what are the largest implications of the Oct. 23 Louisiana election results?

Sen. David Vitter misfires. Vitter backed candidates in the two competitive statewide contests, Plaquemines Parish Pres. Billy Nungesser for lieutenant governor and House Speaker Jim Tucker for Secretary of State. Neither won.

Gov. Bobby Jindal wins in more ways than one.