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.
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”