Of course, the Kenner congressman (at least for now) isn't doing all the heavy lifting. While Jindal never did sign on to the far-reaching agenda of Blueprint Louisiana, he's found a way to make peace with the well-heeled reform group: he has asked several prominent Blueprint members to set key interview appointments and write policy. Lake Charles lumber tycoon (and former commissioner of administration) Dennis Stine is leading the search for a new commissioner of administration and a revenue secretary, while Baton Rouge billboard exec Sean Reilly is helping craft Jindal's ethics package. For what it's worth, Stine says he isn't interested in the DOA post.
Meanwhile, in several fiefdoms of state government where incumbents have lost, a near panic has set in. Many public employees are fearful their entire careers are in jeopardy if they don't make the incoming administration's cut. It's particularly acute right now in the Agriculture Department and in the Attorney General's office. "Things were kind of strange during the primary, but now it's just plain bizarre," says one high-level employee in the AG's office. "No one knows what the hell is going on anymore. No one knows if they have a job."
Anxiety runs almost as high among those who have been contacted as it does among those who have not. Veterans Affairs Secretary and Brigadier General Hunt Downer, a Republican who ran against Jindal and Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2003, is among those willing to stay on the job but who have not yet been contacted by Jindal's people. Halfway through Blanco's term, Downer agreed to serve as her legislative liaison, a critical position that put the former House speaker in charge of communicating with lawmakers, many of whom had grown increasingly dissatisfied with Blanco. By most accounts, Downer got good reviews. "I would like to continue serving," he says. "I'd love to be able to keep putting my experience to use."
The legislative liaison post is a key appointment for any governor, particularly when the Legislature is dominated by the opposing political party. The liaison's relationship with lawmakers will take on added significance for Jindal, who has staked his administration's future on a special session dedicated exclusively to ethics reform. In a move that surprised many, Jindal recently told reporters he has tapped former House Speaker Charlie DeWitt, a Democrat from Alexandria, to serve as an interim go-between. DeWitt was arguably the most vocal opponent earlier this year of legislation requiring lawmakers to disclose their income. The chance to remain close to power is an obvious draw for DeWitt. For Jindal, DeWitt represents another overture to his newfound base in northern Louisiana ' and a man popular with most if not all returning House members.
Elsewhere in the legislative halls, Jindal vows to stay out of the leadership races ' unless he is asked for advice, which the governor-elect may be secretly anticipating. While it's noble for a new governor to dilute his own power by not muscling his friends into legislative leadership positions, Jindal runs a small risk of getting a leadership that's out of sync with his agenda. The more likely scenario is one in which leading candidates in both houses will get almost enough votes to win, and Jindal will be accorded the opportunity to provide the margin of victory at the end. That way, he'll get the best of both worlds ' staying out of the bloodiest part of the fight, but getting House and Senate leaders who owe him.
As of last week, those seeking the Senate presidency included Sens. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, Robert Adley, D-Benton; Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan; ; Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles; Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth; and Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans.
Chaisson, who represents portions of Lafourche Parish, has emerged as a compromise candidate, offering balance to a Republican speaker as a Democratic president. Touting himself as a pro-business moderate, Chaisson has formed a bipartisan coalition with Michot, along with others.
Michot told reporters last week that he would be comfortable with Chaisson as a compromise choice. In return, Michot could be tapped for an important position, like chairman of the Finance Committee, although Chaisson said he hasn't gotten that far into the process.
Each claims at least a handful of votes, but if you add them all up, you'd find Louisiana with about 60 members of the Senate, which officially has 39 members. Murray, the only African-American candidate, will assuredly have the support of black senators, and that could get him a key chairmanship ' as well as chairmanships or good committee assignments for those who stick with him.
Rep. Juan LaFonta, a New Orleans Democrat and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, says there's an easy truce right now between Jindal and lawmakers. Most of the coalitions taking shape in the House and Senate revolve around leadership elections, he says, and not around Jindal.
Once the leadership races are decided, lawmakers will stake out positions as either floor leaders for Jindal or as the loyal opposition. "I don't think there has ever been a governor who has enjoyed so much support that every single member of the Legislature backs what he backs," LaFonta says. "That's not going to happen now, either. For now, everyone wants to work together. There is too much at stake. And as for the caucus, we stand ready to oppose anything that goes against our constituency. Our main concern right now is that rebuilding isn't moving along fast enough."
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."