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."
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.