Swatting gnats from his sweat-spattered forehead in the blistering heat last year, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser garnered state and national headlines day in and day out in the aftermath of last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In particular, he seemed to be the go-to voice for CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the cable network that provided extensive coverage of the disaster. On Monday the rotund Republican turned that exposure into a campaign for lieutenant governor, a seat currently held by fellow Republican Jay Dardenne.
“Louisianans need a lieutenant governor who has real world experience creating jobs and a track record of standing up and doing what is best for our state,” Nungesser said from Belle Chasse Monday. “Louisiana needs a fighter who has been tested and delivered real results with the proven courage to stand up to large corporations, the federal government or whoever is standing in the way of doing what is right for our state and our people.”
Less than two hours after Nungesser made his announcement, Dardenne issued a release of his own, a video he created from an automated call of Nungesser endorsing him for lieutenant governor in last year's special election for the seat.
The call was broadcast in November 2010, according to Dardenne. View the video here. In the recording, Nungesser praised Dardenne for his leadership in protecting the state's coastline and lauded Dardenne as "a strong advocate for good government" and fiscal responsibility. "I know he'll fight to restore Louisiana's image in the wake of the oil spill," Nungesser said.
A local political consultant will help lead the effort to elect Nungesser: Amy Jones, senior partner in Jones Communications and perhaps best remembered for successfully running U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany’s first campaign for Congress in 2004, is communications director for the campaign. Jones says Nungesser will make his rounds across the state this week, appearing at Trynd Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Nungesser was elected president of Plaqemines Parish in 2006 and overwhelming re-elected in 2010 with 71 percent of the vote.
In announcing his campaign, Nungesser took credit for the Plaquemines Parish rebuilding effort following Hurricane Katrina, saying he helped win approval for 500 projects totaling $361 million to rebuild marinas and invest in fire stations and emergency equipment.
“Our state’s $9 billion tourism industry deserves a champion who will roll up his sleeves and work with the taxicab drivers, bartenders, restaurant owners and tourism professionals to find real world solutions to improve the industry and create jobs,” Nungesser said. “We don’t need a career politician who thinks the solution to our problems is to use more of our hard earned tax dollars to line the pockets of Madison Avenue advertising executives. Louisiana needs help from leaders who won’t back down until Louisiana is the state it can and should be.”
A lifelong conservative Republican, Nungesser is a small business owner who built a company with more than 200 employees. For more information about Billy Nungesser, click here or go to facebook.com/billynungesser.