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Partisan hermaphodite suit raises no valid issue

Acting as quite a distraction from his Ashley Madison inquiries, former state Rep. Damon Baldone’s quest to return to the Louisiana Legislature took a quixotic turn as he attempts to become, in the words of one waggish observer, a political hermaphrodite.

Baldone, intending in a couple of weeks to qualify to run in his House district, unsuccessfully sued to register himself as a voter as both a Democrat and Republican. In Louisiana, upon qualification for office the ballot lists the party affiliation of the registrant if it is a recognized party by the state; otherwise, the candidate is indicated as “other” or may choose if not affiliated with any party as “no party.” After an adverse initial decision, he has appealed the ruling.

Elector registration becomes the method for assigning ballot label because Louisiana is one of the few states that does not have party primaries for nomination onto a general election ballot. It is a few other states than these that allow by law what is known as “cross-filing” by a candidate. Typically in these, a candidate may vie for more than one party’s nomination and if then is listed on the general election ballot with more than one label.


McAllister seeks redemption with longshot quest

Perhaps relieved at not having anything to do with him surfacing as a result of the hacking bust of the Ashley Madison spouse cheating website, former Rep. Vance McAllister looks to unseat state Sen. Mike Walsworth in this fall’s election. As lightning didn’t strike twice before, asking for it to do so again will be a reach for him.

McAllister initially became famous for coming out of nowhere to defeat several officeholders in a special election in 2013 for the Fifth Congressional District post. He celebrated by getting caught on video kissing a married staffer not his wife, thus earning him the sobriquet “the kissing Congressman.” After admitting the truth about the infidelity and saying he would pass on reelection, he changed his mind and ran a distant fourth.

He claims his rationale for running as Walsworth not paying enough attention to his district in favor of supporting policies of Gov. Bobby Jindal. Of course, this presupposes not only that the ideologies of Walsworth and Jindal don’t differ much, but that they also differ from the preferences of the 33rd Senatorial District.


Change law to modernize LA municipal governance

Only in Louisiana is there the weird situation where generally small-town mayors don’t have enough executive power but too much judicial power for good government.

The vast majority of Louisianans who live in a municipality do so where there exists a city court, as this was required of those with populations greater than 5,000 prior to the latest 1974 Constitution. But where one is not established a municipal corporation up to 1974 was required to have a mayor’s court; since then, city courts cannot be established and so new municipalities either must have established a mayor’s court or a parish-wide court (as in a few instances) by the Legislature.

A city court has an elected judge presiding. By contrast, in a mayor’s court, the mayor acts as the judicial officer over a limited jurisdiction of cases over the certain laws and city ordinances, within the city boundaries. It thereby merges executive and judicial powers into one officer, and this arrangement, found in very few other states, federal courts have determined is of dubious constitutionality.


Gov. field practically set, pushing Vitter to victory

State Rep. John Bel Edwards can breathe a sigh of relief. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne have decisions to make. And so do Louisiana Democrats.

When New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams publicly announced, after interest got stirred about the possibility, that he would not run for governor, this effectively meant the last opportunity for the contest to change as a result of an additional beyond these men and Sen. David Vitter had passed. Williams is thought to contemplate running for mayor of New Orleans in 2018 and a gubernatorial candidacy could have increased his profile in that regard in a cost effective manner – especially as he would have received support from some not so much because those believed in his candidacy but because they saw one of the other four as obnoxious.

At this late date Williams could have influenced the race because, as a black Democrat with a record of capturing enough votes to win something more than an office with a relatively trivial amount of power, he could have drawn (unlike others) a significant amount of votes as even a subdued but not practically invisible campaign effort would be enough to alert black voters to his presence in the contest. Now with two months to go to the election, no non-black candidate or black candidate not a proven vote-getter for an office of significant stature has enough time to make enough of an impact to change the dynamics of the contest, given the compressed time frame involved.


The Advocate column, Aug. 23, 2015

Louisiana transportation policy built on false choices