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.
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is as healed as doctors believe.
Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
It’s been just over four months since attorney Barry Domingue committed suicide the morning before he was to stand trial for a second day in the federal Curious Goods case, leaving his fellow attorney/co-defendant Daniel Stanford with a temporary mistrial and awaiting his day in court.
Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram isn't letting a humbling start to his pro career lower his opinion of what he can still accomplish in the NFL.
Phoenix flooding stuns residents; Gaza truce talks collapse, NFL vets defy age label and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.