Unlike Carville, Fletcher works both sides of the political fence, representing Democrats and Republicans. Fletcher clients have included John McCain, Mike Foster, Buddy Leach and Louisiana State Treasurer John N. Kennedy. His latest mission was a successful effort to shoot down Gov. Blanco's proposed dollar per pack increase on cigarettes.
The veteran of hundreds of campaigns admits his motivation for accepting the anti-tobacco tax mission: "The question to me is the price," Fletcher says with a smile. "I'm not going to lie about it. I operate off the greed factor. My greed." When reminded that foes might call him a prostitute, Fletcher dryly asserts, "I know who I am."
Some of Gov. Blanco's advocates blamed the well financed tobacco lobby for killing the tax, but Fletcher says smaller players made a difference in hiring him to frame a mass media message. "I never saw big tobacco," Fletcher says. "I saw the little guys who work on margins of 8 or 9 percent. People like the tobacco discount stores."
Fletcher managed to craft a deadly message to kill the governor's plan without speaking ill of the intended recipients of the tax, state teachers. Armed with a mathematical advantage that included 37 Republicans in the 105 member Louisiana House of Representatives, Fletcher pounded away at the suggested tax boost with ample funding from retailers from Lake Charles to Lake Providence.
"The argument was that this was needed for a teacher pay raise," Fletcher says with derision. "That was the first mistake in tying this cigarette tax to something that had nothing to do with smoking." Fletcher subscribes to the notion that connecting the tax to health care would have been more acceptable to lawmakers and voters.
Fletcher smiles at his flexibility on issues. Sometimes it is apparent he is a lawyer. Fletcher provides advice to a bevy of corporate clients, but some foes castigate him for allowing his substantial talents to be utilized by an industry that promotes an unhealthy addiction.
Fletcher is a smoker and insists the tax would have hurt people living on limited budgets. He chides Gov. Blanco for a proposal that he claims would have adversely affected her electoral base. "Why is it that Democrats always choose poor people when they decide to tax?" Fletcher opines as his hands flail emphatically. "A vast majority of smokers make below $25,000 a year. How about taxing somebody with money?"
Fletcher swings back into his 2003 campaign mode and begins to extol the virtues of an oil processing tax backed by then-gubernatorial candidate Buddy Leach. But the reality is that if Gov. Blanco couldn't secure 70 votes in the House for a cigarette tax, she certainly wouldn't have been able to get two-thirds of both chambers to back a tax on the state's most prominent industry.
With Blanco enduring a grueling session, the list of potential 2007 gubernatorial challengers grows, and it's a good bet that Roy Fletcher will resurface in two years as the adviser to a Blanco opponent. Blanco beat Buddy Leach two years ago to win round one; Fletcher has taken round two. The battle for teachers and taxes continues, and with the bell about to sound for round three, the fight continues between the queen of the Louisiana Capitol and the king of state political consultants.
Louisiana's U.S. House delegation has weighed in on some hot-button issues that could resurface during the 2006 election cycle. Most of the votes are along party lines. Here are a few examples.
Democrats Bill Jefferson and Charles Melancon voted to bar funding of a USA Patriot Act section under which police and intelligence agents, bearing secret warrants, can obtain library and bookstore records. Jefferson and Melancon were in the majority in a 238-187 tally. Voting for seizure of records in some cases were Republicans Charles Boustany, Jim McCrery, Bobby Jindal, Rodney Alexander and Richard Baker.
The state U.S. House delegation also voted along party lines on a Democratic bid for an independent commission to probe U.S. military treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Jefferson and Melancon voted to condemn attempts by evangelicals on the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy to convert non-Christian cadets. Boustany, McCrery, Jindal and Alexander voted no on the measure while Baker was absent.
The votes show that party affiliation speaks volumes in Washington, but the record of the congressmen on divisive issues will matter most if a viable challenger emerges in their respective districts in 2006. With five of seven Louisiana U.S. members wearing the Republican label, the GOP is likely to target Melancon next year. The Napoleonville lawmaker narrowly edged Billy Tauzin III in last fall's Third District election. Melancon's votes will be inspected closely in the coming year, and demography dictates that his seat is vulnerable.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.