FOOTE IN THE DOOR
Sources close to the process confirm that Alexandria attorney Beth Foote has risen to the top of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s short list as the replacement for the retiring federal Judge Tucker Melancon. Rumors were rampant in Lafayette a few weeks ago that Foote might withdraw herself from consideration when judges of the district threw their support to relocating the judgeship from Lafayette to Shreveport, with the ultimate decision resting with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. (There had been lots of speculation that it would be moved to Lake Charles.) Foote is still very much in the running, according to sources close to her.

MICHOT’S FINEST HOUR
For his entire legislative career, the slap on Lafayette state Sen. Mike Michot has been that he is too nice of a guy and disliked confrontation to be effective in the rough and tumble sport of legislative politics. He found himself the legislative torch bearer for Acadiana, attempting to follow in the powerful footsteps of natives like Jerry Luke LeBlanc, who in 2004 vacated his seat in the House, where he chaired the Appropriations Committee, to become Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s commissioner of administration. Michot rose to new heights on the heels of the Blanco administration. As chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, the affable and personable Michot has displayed flashes of the legendary John Breaux’s bipartisanship this session by teaming with Democratic Senate President Joel Chaisson to craft a budget that restored 75 percent of Jindal’s draconian budget cuts to health care and higher education without raising taxes, and using only one-third of the state’s rainy day fund. It passed the Senate unanimously. Although he reportedly is very fond of Jindal, Michot has told close friends that he has no intention of allowing Jindal to build an uber-conservative résumé at the expense of thousands of jobs (a projected 500 of which would be lost in his hometown), and the loss of services to elderly and children. Compounding that is the potential cut to his alma mater, UL Lafayette, of nearly 23 percent of its operating budget, which would wash away two decades of academic progress. Sources close to Michot say he is very concerned about the lack of legislative cooperation between the houses — as Republican Speaker Jim Tucker, who has an intense dislike for Gov. Jindal and a leadership style that could be described as sophomoric at best — has had a very difficult time managing the unruly House.

MELANCON CLOSE TO A DECISION
Sources in D.C. confirm that Rep. Charlie Melancon is close to a decision to challenge Sen. David Vitter in 2010. Sources say Melancon has made a 180-degree turn in the past six months after seeing polls that showed him running dead even with Vitter even though he was known by far fewer people than Vitter statewide. Reportedly, Shaw exec Jim Bernhard and state Sen. Eric LaFleur will not seek the position and will instead support Melancon. Melancon is a nightmare candidate for Vitter, as he rips at all aspects of Vitter’s base: he is pro oil and gas; pro-gun, pro-life, and a UL grad who was a fraternity brother to and/or very close with many successful Lafayette businessmen, including Wayne Elmore, Mike Maraist, Richard Zuschlag and Dwayne David. His down-home Cajun nature will certainly allow him to be very competitive in many areas of Cajun country Vitter relied on to beat Chris John in 2004. This fact enhances the likelihood of a strong primary opponent for Vitter, one who can give the Republicans a chance to hold on to the seat.

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