Opelousas state Rep. Elbert Guillory trounced Patricia Cravins, wife of Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins, in the runoff for the Senate seat to replace her son Don Cravins Jr., who now works as a staffer for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. After the strong showing by Guillory in St. Landry Parish during the primary, Cravins’ fate seemed to be sealed. Without question, the Cravins political dynasty, which has spanned nearly two decades, is waning. The election results clearly expressed that. But beyond the surface, who were the winners and losers from this seismic power shift in the black community?
Clearly the biggest winner besides Guillory is State Rep. Rickey Hardy. Hardy was out early, and then often supporting Guillory in north Lafayette. He was unwavering in his support for Guillory from day one. His lone support for Guillory from the Lafayette black political establishment clearly positions him as a political operative worth watching. The biggest winner in St. Landry is Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, who was able to pay back the favor to the Cravins family for their opposition to him in the past two sheriff’s races (when they supported Laura Balthazar).
He certainly twisted the dagger in the political heart of the Cravins family with this election and may have rooted out any potential threat to his re-election with such a strong political showing in St. Landry by his candidate Guillory. Clearly, these election results send a simple message to Mayor Cravins and any other detractors of the sheriff, which could best be articulated by the late musician Jim Croce: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.”
In the losing category, aside from the Cravins family, perhaps the biggest loser was Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin. The young Shelvin, who has legislative ambitions, seemed to be fearful of the legacy of the Cravins machine and failed to engage himself in the election on anyone’s behalf (unlike Hardy), despite much urging from Guillory backers. Clearly a case of “you snooze, you lose.” Another black political icon whose stature was diminished is KJCB’s Je’Nell Chargois, who like Shelvin sat on the sidelines out of apparent fear of the Cravins camp. The new Guillory/Hardy tandem could redefine the political pecking order in St. Landry/Lafayette black politics for some time to come. Given its alliance with Sheriff Guidroz, as well as many white north Lafayette businessmen who supported Guillory (Herb Schilling, etc.), this multi-racial coalition could prove to be a formidable multi-parish force for years to come.
LANDRIEU NARROWING THE FIELDS
According to sources in both Baton Rouge and Washington (and just as I predicted) Sen. Mary Landrieu will not nominate state Rep. Rick Gallot of Ruston to the position of U.S. attorney for the Western District. The courthouse buzz is now centered around Stephanie Finley, a young African-American who works as an assistant to current U.S. Attorney Donald Washington (who is not being retained). Also back in the game is state Sen. Eric Lafleur of Ville Platte, himself a former state prosecutor.
Sources also indicate that Landrieu is narrowing her focus on the federal judgeship to replace Tucker Melancon. The field now appears to have shrunk to 15th JDC Judge Jules Edwards (Lafayette), 16th JDC Judge Lori Landry (New Iberia and St. Martinville), 27th JDC Judge Alonzo Harris (Opelousas), Third Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Gene Thibodeaux (Lake Charles), and as of late, Louisiana State Bar Association President Beth Foote of Alexandria. It appears that Landrieu is not considering any other candidates. Foote is the only white candidate of the names mentioned. A recent development, according to insiders familiar with the federal court, is that the judges of the district will vote on whether to relocate that seat from Lafayette to Lake Charles (though the ultimate decision rests with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals), which currently has only one seat. Chief Judge Dickie Haik is being evasive, only confirming that a “discussion” will take place (though he won’t say when), noting there are ongoing “discussions about how to better the [case] distribution as a whole.”
My sources are betting on the move: goodbye La Fonda, hello L’Auberge du Lac.
It’s too soon to tell whether such a relocation would disrupt the current pool of potential applicants.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.