KNOE in Monroe reports that city’s mayor Jamie Mayo is tossing his hat in the ring for the 5th District congressional seat opening up thanks to Rodney Alexander’s retirement.
Mayo would make the fourth Democrat in the race, as state rep. Marcus Hunter of Monroe and leftist Monroe criminal defense lawyer Charles Kincade are also running – as is state Rep. Robert Johnson, who hails from the southern end of the district in Marksville. Additionally, Alexandria mayor Jacques Roy has made noises along the lines of entering the race and rumors persist about state Sen. Rick Gallot jumping in.
Their narrative will generally be the same; namely, that Alexander and his new boss Gov. Bobby Jindal (the former will be working for the latter as the head of the state Veterans’ Affairs department) conspired to stack the electoral deck in favor of state Sen. Neil Riser, a Jindal ally and the runaway favorite in the race.
That’s a narrative which will be – actually, it already has been – pushed by the major Republican opponent to Riser in the race, state Rep. Jay Morris. Morris, who was one of the Fiscal Hawks in the legislature this past session, has the ability to self-fund a race just like Riser does, and he and Riser will likely be far out in front of the rest of the contenders in terms of campaign spending.
Republican trial attorney and wrestling promoter Jeff Guerriero of Monroe is also apparently going to make the race, though where he’s going to find votes is an interesting question.
So that means seven, or maybe even eight or nine, candidates in the race. Most of them are likely Democrats at this point.
And it’s a very interesting race. Perhaps one of the most interesting races in Louisiana since the special election for Lt. Governor back in 2010.
You’d figure that with 33 percent of the electorate in the 5th District being of African ancestry, that one spot in the runoff would go to a candidate of that ethnicity. But which one? If Hunter, Gallot and Mayo are fighting each other for that vote, unless one of them breaks out of the pack they’ll cancel each other out. Roy, Johnson and Kincade will also be campaigning to get black votes as well, with at least the first two having some record of prior success in capturing some of them.
Which means that the core Democrat constituency in that race will be completely splintered among a half-dozen Democrat candidates, none of whom will have the money Morris and Riser will.
Morris is in a position, should he demonstrate some ability to truly challenge Riser and make a runoff with him, to access at least one source of big donor money. Ruston’s Davison family, which has amassed a sizable fortune in trucking, are not particular fans of Jindal and his coterie of advisors – so Morris could be in a position to line up their support if Riser’s election isn’t a done deal.
He’s already laid down a marker that he wants this to be a referendum on Jindal and the Alexander-Riser deal…
“It looks like they tried to rig this election,” said Morris, R-Monroe, who said he will run for the seat that will be vacated by Alexander. “I didn’t think this kind of thing was supposed to happen in our country.”
“I’ve heard that Timmy Teepell (a previous political consultant for Riser and former Jindal chief of staff), Rodney, Jonathan (Johnson, Alexander’s state director), Neil and possibly others were involved in making a deal,” Morris said. “Although I don’t have direct evidence, it appears to me some sort of deal was made to grant an advantage to (Riser). It disturbs me and should disturb everyone that an election could be manipulated like this.”
When asked if he believed Jindal was involved, Morris said, “Timmy Teepell is Jindal’s right-hand man, and it’s the governor’s decision to hire Rodney and set the election, so yes.”
That’s some awfully strong language, and considering that Morris was – if not in the core group of the Fiscal Hawks in the House who engineered a deal with the Legislative Black Caucus to wipe out business tax breaks in an effort to offset money the Jindal administration was raiding from dedicated funds in the state budget – awfully close to the middle, it’s going to generate some pushback. Most people saw that core group as Reps. Brett Geymann, John Schroder, Cameron Henry and Lance Harris. Morris would be considered right behind them. And Riser will point out that he voted to raise taxes no less than five times in a single day in this spring’s session.
He’ll likely have help in that effort, because Morris’ opposition to Jindal on the state budget will make him a Jindal enemy and the governor – or more to the point, Teepell – will want to make him pay.
Riser’s campaign manager is political consultant Eric Mahaffey, whose firm (Quest Communication Consultants) has done work for Alexander, Sen. Bob Kostelka, Sen. Gerald Long, Sen. Francis Thompson and a myriad of judges and district attorneys in North Louisiana.
Will the race turn into a referendum on the Governor? It will if it comes down to Riser and Morris. If not, it’s likely to be Riser and a Democrat, in which case it will be an ideological fight and a probable Republican smackdown unless Roy gets in and somehow manages to make the runoff by capturing black votes away from black candidates.