In the last couple of days there’s a new bit of buzz regarding this fall’s statewide election cycle, as a prominent name at the Louisiana legislature is making noises about throwing his hat into the ring for a statewide office.
Specifically, House Speaker Jim Tucker, who is term limited after this year and now appears poised to mount a run for the Secretary of State post.
Tucker, whose campaign war chest Gambit reports has some $400,000 in it, has name recognition superior to that of incumbent Tom Schedler and fellow Republican Walker Hines. He may not be ahead of Democrat Caroline Fayard in that respect quite yet, but he’s close – and with a conservative state Tucker would nevertheless be a favorite against Fayard in a runoff.
The Speaker, of course, has something of a mixed reputation among the state’s voters. He’s had a difficult job to do as the Republican speaker of a nominally-Democrat House up until this year, and at times Tucker has struggled to coexists with Gov. Bobby Jindal when the governor’s conservatism has come and gone. Mostly, though, the cat-herding associated with being the Speaker has made Tucker look less-than-perfect at times. That’s inevitable, and goes with the job.
But a statewide campaign would test Tucker in ways that would be interesting – particularly with conservative voters for whom the Republican candidates for Secretary of State will be contending.
Tucker’s entry into the race also likely signals that Secretary of Natural Resources Scott Angelle, who has a similar bankroll to Tucker’s and emerged as a putative candidate for some statewide office after a high-profile speech at the Rally For Economic Survival in Lafayette last spring and an even more high-profile party switch to Republican last summer, might not be running for a statewide office after all. Word on the street is that Angelle, whose five children are all in private school, simply can’t make the finances work out in mounting a five-month campaign with no salary for that time (he can’t exactly stay at DNR and be a candidate for another office without paying a big political price), and as such his circumstances will have to change. Angelle was rumored as the favorite for the Secretary of State job; if he doesn’t get in Tucker might well assume that role.
And a Tucker-Fayard runoff would be an interesting one indeed, as it would pit the Republican Democrats love to hate against the Democrat Republicans love to hate.