The Hayride’s Endorsement Symposium: Statewide Races And Amendments

Rather than offer a single slate of endorsements from the Hayride, in this cycle since we have a larger and more diverse staff of writers than in previous years we thought we’d put that diversity to use in having each of our writers offer selections on the upcoming races in symposium format.

In this post, our writers pick their favorites in the down-ballot statewide races and constitutional amendments. See embedded links for endorsements in the governor’s race and in selected legislative and other races.

FOR LT. GOVERNOR

MacAoidh: No endorsement. My position for some time has been that the most interesting candidate in the race for the state’s #2 position was Elbert Guillory, and I think he would make a good ambassador for both the state as a whole and our culture and tourism industries. But the campaign Guillory has run since spending six months last year debating whether to pursue the job instead of engaging in a ridiculous dalliance with the race for then-Senator Mary Landrieu’s job has disqualified him from serious consideration.

With Kip Holden almost literally the man who broke Baton Rouge, and the fact that he simply cannot be allowed a statewide office (luckily enough, the most recent Raycom poll has Holden at a miniscule 14 percent and likely out of a runoff), that leaves the current knife-fight between John Young and Billy Nungesser. And frankly, there simply isn’t enough difference between the two to make a distinction at this time. Nungesser and Young are both personable presidents of suburban parishes in the New Orleans area, both have been accused of corruption and defend themselves by rightly pointing out that corruption in Plaquemines and Jefferson has been going on for almost forever and is less a problem now than when they took office. Nungesser has a more compelling story coming out of the BP oil spill, while Young has run a more organized campaign.

My thought was that I’d wait to see who made the runoff with Holden and that would be my endorsee. At this point it doesn’t seem that will be the case. I have no idea which of the two to vote for, and I’m not sure it makes a difference.

Kevin Boyd: Billy Nungesser. Nungesser did a great job as Plaquemines Parish President getting it through hurricanes and oil spills. He also largely stayed on topic on what the Lt. Governor actually does in Louisiana. What led me to pick him over John Young was Young’s crackdown on Uber in Jefferson Parish. Still, either Nungesser or Young would be preferable to Baton Rouge Town Drunk Kip Holden.

Joe Cunningham: John Young. This race has all the excitement of Lincoln Chafee’s presidential campaign. Elbert Guillory cashed in on the excitement of black conservative Republicans and switched parties, Billy Nungesser capitalized on the airtime of being a south Louisiana politician during natural disasters, John Young cashed in on having ties to the New Orleans business community. Also, Kip Holden is still a thing that is happening to Louisiana. What’s at stake isn’t who will do a good job as Lt. Governor, because that’s just a tourism lobbyist job, but rather who will be governor in an emergency situation. Both Nungesser and Young have executive experience, and so you can’t really go wrong with either if that’s your criteria. In the interest of taking a stand, however, I support John Young.

John Binder: John Young. Young’s record of cutting spending in Jefferson Parish, ditching parish credit cards and reducing the size of his Jefferson Parish President office speaks for itself. Being that Lt. Governor’s mainly focus on bringing in money to the state through tourism, Young seems like a candidate that can help incentivize tourism in the state without growing the size of his own personal office.

FOR SECRETARY OF STATE

MacAoidh: Tom Schedler. There is no comparison here. Schedler has a long record of public service – as a legislator, then as a deputy working for then-Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, and finally in his current position. In that capacity he has overseen an elections process in which virtually every eligible adult interested in voting is registered, there are fewer elections for voters to keep track of and therefore it’s easier to fulfill one’s civic duty, and he has fought to preserve Louisiana’s model elections process against dishonest and tyrannical overreach from the Obama Justice Department. Schedler’s opponent Chris Tyson is a leftist law professor at LSU who has all but endorsed voter fraud as a human right, and his supporters have accused this writer, and by extension Schedler, of racism for opposing such nonsense. This must be repudiated at the ballot box with gusto.

Kevin Boyd: Tom Schedler. Schedler should be reelected based on his own merits. He has done a great job as Secretary of State. But in addition, his opponent Chris Tyson is simply awful. His platform is automatic voter registration which would automatically register anyone with a driver’s license to vote. Here’s a guess, anyone that doesn’t want to register vote when they get or renew their driver’s license, in a voter registration drive, or make the trip to registrar of voters probably isn’t interested in voting or is not willing to make an effort. This isn’t the recipe for a more informed electorate. What this is about is making it easier for Democrats to drive buses to the ghetto or the nursing home and loading them full of people and having them vote their way.

Joe Cunningham: Tom Schedler. I’ve been doing work with the Ace of Spades Decision Desk, which by the way will be covering the Louisiana races on Saturday at dd.aoshq.com, for a while and I’ve been doing elections coverage for other outlets for even longer. Schedler has done a great job with elections systems and it would make no sense to replace him.

John Binder: Tom Schedler. Schedler has been innovative as the current Secretary of State, which is exactly what we need more of in government. Through websites like GeauxBiz and apps like GeauxVote, it is so much easier now to see what exactly you’re actually voting for.

Not to mention, Chris Tyson, Schedler’s Democrat opponent, wants what all liberals want: Automatic voter registration. Of course, this idea is only so that Democrats can further their careers in public office via voting fraud and abuse, which they continue to claim is a “myth.”

Also note that Tyson is a former Mary Landrieu staffer. Just what Louisiana voters don’t want, a Secretary of State with ties to the Landrieu political dynasty.

FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL

MacAoidh: Jeff Landry. In Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana has an Attorney General who does nothing about public corruption, flouts the law by hiring private attorneys (and, commonly, private attorneys who make large campaign donations to him) on contingency-fee contracts and sees the office as a combination plaintiff shop and slush fund. Its $60 million budget, given the hiring of all the outside counsel, is asinine. And for Republicans in Louisiana to have to endure this under our banner is unacceptable when there is an honest, courageous, forthright and passionate conservative in Landry available.

Caldwell presents the objection that Landry has never tried a criminal case in court. Well, the last time Caldwell set foot in a courtroom, during the BP oil spill litigation, he made an ass of himself – so we’ll file that under Things Which Don’t Impress Us, whether they appear in Caldwell’s paid campaign piece disguised as Woody Jenkins’ newspaper or not.

Kevin Boyd: Jeff Landry. Unlike Buddy Caldwell, he is a conservative. Unlike Buddy Caldwell, he is ethical. Unlike Buddy Caldwell, he is pro-business. Most importantly Jeff Landry simply just has to run on his conservative record instead of paying Woody Jenkins nearly $18,000 to say he’s a conservative.

Joe Cunningham: Jeff Landry. Buddy Caldwell? More like Buddy Farewell. Jeff Landry is a great pick here, and Louisiana deserves to have someone who is actually willing to fight for them in that position. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting Landry to go after this job. I knew he was doing the southern politician thing after his loss to Charles Boustany and praying about it, but I figured Lt. Governor or Governor was his aim. This job makes more sense for him, though.

John Binder: Jeff Landry. Former Louisiana Congressman Jeff Landry has long been considered a kind of renegade. While in Congress, he managed to take on the GOP establishment for failing to stand up to the Obama administration on Obamacare and energy issues.

Even when Landry left Congress, he criticized former House Speaker John Boehner for basically being a lapdog to the White House. So, as you can see, Landry is much like Vitter in the sense that he is hated by everyone (Democrats, GOP establishment and media) except the voters, which is always a good sign.

Besides this, our current Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has used the office to help his political donors and rich attorney friends. As the Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch has so perfectly tracked, Caldwell far-too-often uses private attorneys whom he is friends with to represent the state in litigation. It’s so bad, that the practice has been dubbed the “Buddy System,” as Caldwell’s office is really all about his buddies reaping the benefits of litigation on the backs of the Louisiana taxpayer.

FOR TREASURER

MacAoidh: John Kennedy. Kennedy doesn’t have any serious competition in this cycle, and he’s really not even running for re-election. Rather, he’s already begun his Senate campaign, spending a good bit of his $4 million war chest on biographical ads designed to move his positives into the “unbeatable” territory.

The real endorsement is for whoever runs in the special election to replace Kennedy in 2017, should he win the Senate race next year, against Chuck Kleckley. Kleckley, an abysmal House Speaker who presided over some of the largest budget deficits in Louisiana history and ultimately sought to close them by use of $700 million in tax increases this year (he also built the framework for Louisiana to accept the Obamacare Medicaid expansion), is rumored to be setting himself up as Kennedy’s successor. Someone should stop him.

Kevin Boyd: Leave it blank. This race is a farce. John Kennedy put up his friend to “run” against him so he can spend money to get ready for his expected Senate race next year. This race doesn’t deserve any votes.

Joe Cunningham: John Kennedy. Kennedy is one abrasive son of a gun, and has pissed a lot of people off because of it. That makes me all the more likely to enjoy his presence in state government for as long has he wants that job. He may be all bluster, but his bluster is usually about the conversations we need to have in state government.

John Binder: No endorsement. John Kennedy doesn’t really have any competition in this race, which is why he’s focusing on a Senate bid instead. Bottom line, the guy’s got the race in the bag, so no endorsement is necessary

FOR AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER

MacAoidh: Mike Strain. As I wrote here, Strain is running against a former deputy of his disgraced predecessor Bob Odom, who treated the department as a personal fiefdom-cum-Communist empire. That former Odom minion Charlie Greer, who even copied the old boss’ campaign logo, spent last week decrying Strain’s slimmed-down army of firefighters and the threat they caused should a forest fire hit the state. Interestingly, if not suspiciously, a gang of firebugs in the drought-stricken northern part of the state attempted to cause precisely that problem only a few hours after Greer’s accusation, setting fires across six parishes. Strain’s firefighters put out those fires in short order and the gang is currently being rolled up by law enforcement.

It’s a good-news story, though it’s one worth watching for its rather bizarre, almost “October Surprise” quality so close to an election.

Kevin Boyd: Mike Strain. Strain has done a good job restoring sanity to that department after Bob Odom’s misrule. His main opponent is a guy, Charlie Greer, who wants to bring back the bad old days. Louisiana cannot take a step back.

Joe Cunningham: Mike Strain. Strain seems like an okay guy, and I’ll stick to the rule that a Republican is better than a Democrat.

John Binder: Mike Strain. Strain is the man for the job because he’s constantly fighting the highly-corrupt Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations.

The EPA would prefer that every small pond be declared a “sacred wetland” and Strain understands this and pushes back. Just as the environment-destroying EPA wants more control over the state’s water supply, Strain pushed back, calling the new regulations burdensome to Louisiana farmers.

FOR INSURANCE COMMISSIONER

MacAoidh: Jim Donelon. Louisiana’s insurance rates, particularly in the case of car insurance, are far too high, but Donelon, who has broken a string of former commissioners landing in prison as the endgame of corruption on the job, doesn’t have the power to fix the causes of those high rates. His opponents, who appear to be affiliated with body shops angry about State Farm’s policies, don’t particularly promise improvement. And with the failure of the Obamacare-inspired Louisiana Health Cooperative forcing the Department of Insurance to oversee the wrapping-up of its operations, veteran leadership is imperative.

Kevin Boyd: Jim Donelon. Donelon has done a great job as Insurance Commissioner. He deserves another term.

Joe Cunningham: Jim Donelon. See: Mike Strain reasoning.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

Joe Cunningham: Qualified No on all. There are four amendments to the state constitution this year, which is a damn sight better than 14 from 2014’s election cycle. I go in to this part of my endorsements by saying I intend to vote “No” on all amendments. I’m adamant when I say that Louisiana’s state constitution is a worthless pile of garbage at this point because it is amended so much. So, if you’re like me and think that a constitution should be amended as little as possible, vote no.

However, there are some advantages to amendments 1 and 2, which are being pushed by John Kennedy’s office with ads. The first amendment will send mineral revenue to special transportation projects while the second one allows the Treasurer’s office to invest in a state infrastructure base. Both of these actually offer better fiscal options than what we’ve got now.

AMENDMENT 1

MacAoidh: Yes. I’m with Joe on the default position on constitutional amendments being No, but as Brian Haldane and I discussed with Jesse McCormick of Driving Louisiana Forward on last week’s Red Bayou Show this is an exception. Amendment 1 would make a major change to the way the Rainy-Day Fund is set up by capping it at $500 million and then depositing everything beyond that number (up to a matching $500 million; everything else would go into the general fund) in a fund for transportation projects – which would give the state the power to raise significant funds for desperately-needed road and port projects through bonds.

And no, it does NOT raise taxes.

Kevin Boyd: Yes.

John Binder: Yes. Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 1 mainly because it simply frees up more money for state transportation infrastructure without any new taxes. Texas has adopted a similar plan.

AMENDMENT 2

MacAoidh: Yes. As discussed on the previously-mentioned podcast, this is a sensible move to accelerate the pace of transportation improvements through the use of an infrastructure bank. It will not raise taxes in itself, though the bank will allow local governments to bypass the politicized capital outlay process to secure alternative financing for some of the more mundane road projects which are so desperately needed. Most of what the infrastructure bank would do is provide financing to four-lane a lot of two-lane roads in places like Ascension and St. James Parishes, where the coming industrial expansion will swamp the current highway grid, and that financing will be serviced by revenue sources secured by those parishes. It’s a sensible idea, though admittedly it’s possible the execution of it could become a problem.

Kevin Boyd: Yes. See my post on both 1 and 2 from September.

John Binder: Yes. Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 2 as this proposal gives the state’s infrastructure bank another option to finance the state’s roads and infrastructure.

AMENDMENT 3

MacAoidh: No. I’m going with my default position here, and I resent being presented with esoteric questions we hire legislators to handle about what bills are brought in fiscal sessions and what bills are not. Do your job according to the rules in place and don’t bother the voters with your problems.

Kevin Boyd: No endorsement. It seems like they’re doing this to clarify language. Perhaps it’s time to consider a constitutional convention?

John Binder: No. Vote ‘no’ on Amendment 3 because all it would do is allow the Louisiana Legislature to loosen their rules on when they can introduce proposals for new taxes.

AMENDMENT 4

MacAoidh: No. This would allow local governments to collect property tax on property owned by out-of-state governments, which essentially amounts to the state legislators asking voters to endorse theft of property owned by people who can’t vote their own interests in the state. I’m not for piracy, and I’m especially not for piracy in my name. The courts have found the property in such questions is exempt from taxation and that ought to be good enough.

Kevin Boyd: No. This poorly written amendment seems like a bunch of lawsuits waiting to happen.

John Binder: No. Vote ‘no’ on Amendment 4, as it is simply a ploy by some local parish government to tax property owned by state and local governments outside of Louisiana. The state doesn’t need to tax more property.



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