It’s been up in the air who would be Speaker of the House since John Bel Edwards was elected governor. In this state, it has been a custom that the governor appoints the leadership of both legislative chambers. Senate President John Alario is expected to be reelected, but it was unclear until today which way John Bel Edwards was going.
The House Republican Delegation met today and agreed unanimously that the Speaker of the House should be a Republican. After all, Republicans not only retained their majority in the House but they actually gained two seats.
Delegation chairman State Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) said that while the Delegation is willing to work with Edwards to fix the state’s problems, it’s best that a Republican Speaker should help with the task. “We believe than an independent Republican speaker, being backed by the majority Republican Delegation, can be most effective in tackling the challenges we face.” said Harris in a press release.
If the Delegation gets its way, it would go a long way to making Louisiana’s political climate functional. It would create a truly independent Legislature for the first time in decades.
But John Bel wouldn’t have that. Harris took his release to the Transition Office and gave it to Edwards. A source close to the Delegation tells The Hayride that State Rep. Sam Jones (D-Franklin) was in the room with Edwards. Edwards then called State Rep. Walt Leger (D-New Orleans) and put him on the speaker. Edwards told Leger that he was his choice for speaker, while Harris was in the room. Edwards then told Leger do whatever it took to get the 9 Republican votes to win. Then Edwards told Harris he was free to run whoever he wanted, but they would lose.
Edwards has not only decided to treat the House of Representatives as if it was Democrat controlled, but he personally insulted Lance Harris. This is playing old school Chicago-style politics. This is giving the middle finger to Lance Harris, House Republicans, and their constituents.
What will now likely happen is that Republicans will now engage in a scorched Earth campaign against the Edwards agenda. Instead of muddying the waters, Republicans will now stand firmly opposed if Walt Leger becomes Speaker. There will also be consequences for the Republican turncoats.
Julia O’Donoghue of the Times-Picayune is also reporting that Leger is Edwards’s pick for Speaker. Her reporting makes it seem that Leger is all but certain to get the job and she’s probably right.
John Bel Edwards said Sunday he was going to govern Louisiana in a “moderate, inclusive” fashion. The reality is, he’s going to govern as a poor man’s Edwin Edwards. Just like Edwin, John Bel is going to bully and push around those who don’t go along with him.
We’re pretty sure that’s not what Louisiana voted for on Saturday night.