Louisiana political columnist John Maginnis is speculating that seniority and stroke with fellow lawmakers — and eventually caving on his threat to have a roll call vote for speaker of the House — led to Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux’s surprise appointment as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. Many political watchers thought Robideaux would be ostracized by the administration and its hand-picked leaders in the Legislature for his temerity late in 2011 after Jindal bestowed his preference for speaker on Lake Charles Rep. Chuck Kleckley.
In a column titled “What Standing Up to Jindal Gets You,” Maginnis contrasts Robideaux’s plum appointment with the scant scraps thrown to freshman Sen. Barrow Peacock, a Shreveport Republican who was the lone vote against Sen. John Alario — also Jindal’s pick — to be Senate president. Peacock will languish the Labor and Retirement committees comes next session while Robideaux will lead arguably the second-most powerful committee in the House behind Appropriations.
Maginnis’ column was published today in The Daily Advertiser, but due to space limitations, the most observant part of the column — Jindal’s willingness to stare down lawmakers and punish uppity solons — was cut off. According to Maginnis:
Robideaux has some muscle, while Peacock, at this point in his Senate career, has only feathers.
But this is also about Jindal. Robideaux is not the first to discover that if you bring something to a fight, this governor would just as soon avoid one. That could be more so going forward. The governor is at the peak of his power now, but, as the second term wears on, lame-duck status inevitably sets in.
The more Jindal looks to extend his career beyond Baton Rouge, the more he will want things to go smoothly at the State Capitol, and the more he may concede to keep the peace. Lawmakers who are paying attention might be looking for where they would take a stand. Yet they should pick their fights wisely...