IT’S OFFICIAL: Garrett Graves Enters 6th District Race

We’ve warned this was coming, and analyzed it a little, but here’s the press release announced that the recently-resigned head of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s coastal restoration authority is now a candidate for Congress…


Brings unique and unequalled experience to race

BATON ROUGE – Today, Garret Graves of Baton Rouge announced his intention to be Louisiana’s 6th District representative in the United States Congress. The Congressional seat will become vacant due to Representative Bill Cassidy running for the U.S. Senate.

“I’m all in,” said Graves, following weeks of soul-searching, family discussion, meeting with community leaders and prayer. “We have a tremendous opportunity as a nation and state. In Louisiana, there is an overwhelming sentiment that we need effective representation to change the direction of Congress.”

Garret Graves previously served as Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA). In six years, Garret replaced decades of repetitive studies, wasteful spending, bloated bureaucracy and red tape with results. In carrying out his vision for hurricane protection, coastal restoration and flood control, the state protected more homes, businesses and jobs than ever before.

With Graves’ leadership, state government did more for less.

Every child born today immediately inherits a $1,500,000 share of our national debt over his or her lifetime and that is unconscionable.  “We need to get the government out of our healthcare decisions, private communications, economic markets and daily lives. Government is increasingly part of our nation’s problem and it is not bringing forward solutions. We must reverse the trend of subsidizing federal failures,” said Graves.

Graves is a Baton Rouge native and Catholic High graduate. Prior to his time at CPRA, Garret spent his early career focused on achieving beneficial solutions for Louisiana over partisan politics while serving as an advisor to Senators David Vitter and John Breaux, along with Congressman Billy Tauzin.

“While our country is still the best in the world, our children and grandchildren don’t have the same shot at the American Dream as our parents and grandparents did. That is not right. I will not stand on the sidelines. I have a record of eliminating wasteful bureaucracy and getting government back on track, skills that our country needs now more than ever.”

Garret, Carissa and their three children live in Baton Rouge, and attend The Chapel church on LSU campus.

The theme of fighting wasteful and intrusive government certainly sounds like a winner, and the theme of cutting through all the Washington partisanship usually sounds like a good one; it was something Vance McAllister did well with.

There had been talk that Graves was going to have Josh Robinson, who was McAllister’s campaign guru, on his team. We’ve heard that he’s also talking to Greg Buisson, the Metairie-based political consultant whose clients include Eric Skrmetta and Clyde Holloway on the Public Service Commission and who most recently was Michael Bagneris’ consultant in the New Orleans mayor’s race.

But the 6th District race is a mess. As of now, the current list of known and highly prospective candidates looks like this…

  • Quentin Anderson, a Democrat from Baton Rouge
  • Bob Bell, a Republican from Baton Rouge
  • Richard Lieberman, a Democrat from LaPlace
  • Paul Dietzel, a Republican from Baton Rouge
  • Craig McCulloch, a Republican from Baker
  • Graves
  • Dan Claitor, a Republican from Baton Rouge
  • Cassie Felder, a Republican from Baton Rouge
  • Shelley Hendrix, a Republican from Baton Rouge
  • Trey Thomas, a Republican from Baton Rouge
  • Norman Clark, a Republican from Baton Rouge
  • Edwin Edwards, a Democrat recently of federal prison

We might have missed one somewhere, but then again we’re already up to 12 candidates in a jungle primary.

If you can accurately pick who makes the runoff out of a 12-person jungle primary, kudos to you – we’re not in your league.

That said, Graves is the guy who could be the heavyweight in the race given his connections to Vitter and Tauzin, plus his work in Jindal’s administration. He would by default become the candidate of the southern part of the district; while Dietzel has the benefit of some name recognition down in Houma/Thibodaux given the strength of affinity for LSU football, Graves is the guy many down there see as the savior of Louisiana’s coastline (or at least its prospective savior). It’s Graves’ master plan which is in the early stages of implementation down there, and that makes him a star down the bayou.

Whether that is enough of a base to get him into the runoff amid a field choc-a-bloc with Republicans from Baton Rouge is a question, and while his connections would seem to give him a chance at raising a ton of money you never really know that to be the case until he starts making phone calls and asking people for money. Some people who would otherwise be good political candidates just can’t do that.

And Graves, like most of this field, is a first-time political candidate. First-time political candidates are notorious for making major mistakes that cripple their campaigns. Will that be Graves’ fate? Who knows. So far it’s a decent assumption that he’s had enough exposure to public speaking and government-level PR that he could handle himself well. A sample of Graves as a public speaker…

He’s very good when it comes to making the case for the state’s coastal restoration master plan and also for why those lawsuits filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes and the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East against the oil industry are a terrible idea. He’s going to need to be able to take that passion and articulation and graft it onto issues like Obamacare and taxes and the federal budget.

But if Graves can do that, he might be your next Congressman from the 6th District of Louisiana.

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