The Battlefield, 1/8/16 – The Great Louisiana House Speaker War

As of this morning, it does not appear there is a clear favorite in the two-way race between Cameron Henry and Walt Leger for the position of Louisiana’s Speaker of the House, and we might see a dramatic, history-making floor fight over the question on Monday.

Hayride sources place Henry’s vote total as high as 51, with Leger in the high 40’s. There appear to be about eight undecideds left, and all or most of them are Republicans.

Henry, we’re told, has not yet begun making promises of committee chairmanships or other assignments. One imagines those deals will be cut over the weekend. Since his votes will come either exclusively or nearly exclusively from Republicans, should Henry win it’s reasonably likely that Republicans would control all of the House committees.

If Leger manages to win, the word has it he’s already made a number of committee chairmanship promises which would be at least somewhat controversial. Rep. Helena Moreno (D-NewOrleans) getting the Health and Welfare committee would be one example; Moreno is a Planned Parenthood ally, and for her to be running the committee most likely to deal with the abortion issue could rub a lot of people, and in particular some legitimately pro-life Democrats (Mike Danahay and Bernard LeBas come to mind), the wrong way.

Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge) is rumored to have been promised the House Education Committee. The school choice and education reform folks would have an absolute conniption over that possibility, and the New Orleans delegation couldn’t possibly be satisfied with it. Smith is an unapologetic opponent of any and all efforts at education reform based on school choice; for her to be in charge of that committee would signal efforts to roll back the 2012 reform package which introduced widescale charter and voucher efforts across the state. Charters and vouchers are very popular in New Orleans; even if promises were made not to touch the status quo in that city, it’s hard to see how an uncommitted New Orleans-area Republican House member would vote for Smith, rather than perhaps a Nancy Landry (R-Lafayette), by pulling the lever for Leger.

And then there’s Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), who apparently was promised the chairmanship of Ways and Means. James is hardly a centrist on the economic matters that committee handles; his lifetime LABI score is a 32. Plus, it’s assumed that plum committee assignment was given to facilitate James’ increased profile in the House this year in advance of his run for Mayor-President of Baton Rouge; again, one wonders why any Republican would look upon that as something worthy of their support.

The format for Monday’s vote, per House practice where a contested Speaker election is concerned, is that it’s a voice vote by roll call and the representatives are polled alphabetically.

Henry’s people think he’s going to win, if by a very close margin. Nobody really knows if they’re correct.

But if Henry is wrong and Leger does win, with 53 or 54 votes, the Democrat could have a short tenure as Speaker indeed. There is nothing preventing a majority of the chamber from removing a Speaker at any time, so those Republicans – or even potentially wayward Democrats – whom Leger might irritate during the regular business of his speakership could simply turn on him and in so doing give Henry the gavel. That would mean the Republicans Leger would appoint – both Rob Shadoin (R-Ruston) and John Schroder (R-Covington) have claimed they’ve been offered the chairmanship of Appropriations as a reward for supporting Leger, for example – as committee chairmen would have enormous power over him if he were elected by a tiny margin; a Schroder in charge of Appropriations threatened with a Leger who was elected with just 53 votes could cut a deal with Henry to keep his committee and then flip to him, thus changing the speakership in midstream.

Leger wouldn’t have much leeway if he were to win. Henry might; if during the vote on Monday it begins to look like Henry will win, some of the Republicans who have made pledges of support or even tacit leanings to Leger might abandon those representations in fear of being not just a “traitor” to their party but a traitor on the losing side of the battle. With 61 Republicans, that’s not impossible.

All of which points to something which is becoming ever more clear – namely, that John Bel Edwards is looking like an amateur-hour governor of Louisiana so far. The state’s media hasn’t reported this very much, for reasons our readers are free to speculate on, but most of Edwards’ moves to date don’t give the appearance of an executive building a foundation for a successful administration. The semi-retired Charlie Melancon as a replacement for nationally-renowned Robert Barham as secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, for example, was a terrible appointment. Dr. Rebekah Gee as the head of the Department of Health and Hospitals has exploded Edwards’ representation of himself as pro-life, a key plank in his campaign which he’s now shown to be a lie. Retaining Mike Edmonson as the commander of the state police may have been the fulfillment of a campaign promise to various entrenched interests, but to do so is to invite scrutiny into how Edmonson’s cronies at the top of the State Troopers’ Association broke their own rules to endorse Edwards, and new Attorney General Jeff Landry could very well launch an investigation into the affair and embroil the new governor in scandal from the beginning of his administration.

And now this business with Leger.

Win or lose, it was stupid to insist on a Democrat Speaker of a Republican House. Leger will only go in with a paper-thin margin, executed in a torturous public floor vote in a House used to having the identity of the Speaker long since decided by the day the members are sworn in. It’s a steep climb to get a Democrat Speaker elected in a chamber with 61 Republicans out of 105 members, several of whom are likely to face recall efforts – New Orleans rookie Stephanie Hilferty being a good example – from constituents who did not vote them in last year with the idea that they’d be electing a Democrat Speaker of the House and would rightly feel betrayed. To get to 53 votes and a majority Leger would need essentially 15 percent of the Republicans in the House to abandon their party. That might happen, but it won’t happen by a lot and there is no guarantee it’ll last.

A more intelligent, politically-savvy governor would have looked at such a fight and judged it neither winnable nor worthwhile. Instead, Edwards had two reasonably acceptable Republican options in Chris Broadwater (R-Hammond) and Joe Lopinto (R-Metairie); Broadwater was on hand at Edwards’ election-night victory party and Lopinto publicly endorsed him. Both could have been trusted to carry at least most of Edwards’ agenda to the House, and given it a bipartisan brand. And had Edwards responded to the GOP delegation’s statement demanding a Republican Speaker with a Republican of his choosing, there would have been nothing immediate for Republicans to rally around.

What he’s quite likely going to get, and on the day he’s inaugurated no less, is Cameron Henry – who would probably have been Speaker had David Vitter beaten Edwards – atop the House and Republicans in charge of (at least close to) every committee. That would be an ugly rout for Edwards in his first day in office, and a signal that he’s already a lame-duck governor without the ability to drive policy.

At that point the only thing Edwards would be able to do is deny a drop of asphalt to be poured in Republican districts as punishment for the disobedience of the opposition. But to do so only opens him up to more opposition, and sure defeat for re-election in 2019.

Edwards might have a victory with Leger on Monday, but if he does it’s a Pyrrhic one, and perhaps a temporary one. Badly done, when he could have found a consensus choice and entered office without acrimony in the Legislature.

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Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire – It’s interesting that the Wall Street Journal, long seen as the house organ of the Republican establishment, would have a spot-on piece identifying the precise reason – and largely offering a sympathetic exposition of it – that so many people have flocked to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson as the frontrunners in the GOP presidential race. They hate political correctness with a burning passion, and they’re sick and tired of the leftist elite telling them what they can and can’t say.

Daniel Henninger does a fabulous job with this piece

Many thought political correctness lived on in our lives now as permanently annoying background noise. In fact, it has been more like a political A-bomb, waiting for its detonator.

On Dec. 7, Donald Trump issued his call for a ban on Muslim immigration into the U.S.—“until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” It’s hard to recall a statement by a public figure that was met, instantly, with almost universal condemnation, including from most of the Republican presidential candidates.

Between that day and the end of 2015, Donald Trump’s support in the national opinion polls went up to nearly 37%, a substantial number by any measure.

Welcome to the revolt of the politically incorrect.

Forget the controversy over Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. This unique political campaign is about more than that. Donald Trump and indeed Ben Carson popped the valves on pressure that’s been building in the U.S., piece by politically correct piece, for 25 years. Since at least the early 1990s, a lot of the public has been intimidated into keeping its mouth shut and head down about subjects in the political and social life of the country that the elites stipulated as beyond discussion or dispute. Eventually, the most important social skill in America became adeptness at euphemism. It isn’t an abortion; it’s a “terminated pregnancy.”

Just so. As we discussed earlier this week for two generations the country has stood by and watched the cultural Marxist Left hammer away at traditional America, not understanding why the things we grew up with were suddenly unjust and unacceptable. Sooner or later, the blowback would come. Now it’s coming. And a new era of American politics which will be much more freewheeling and open, and potentially much more contentious and chaotic, is coming with it.

That’s a great thing. Let’s have it. Let all the oxen be gored, and may the best men and women survive.

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Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire – After all, we know that political correctness isn’t just irritating but actually dangerous. Look at Cologne, for example.

If what happened there happened here, one would hope there would be multiple dead bodies littering the train station where the rapes had occurred, thanks to armed Good Samaritans willing to defend their fellow Americans from rapine savages. That Cologne hasn’t already led to a complete halt in Muslim refugees in Germany, not dissimilar to Trump’s call for the same here, tells you how far gone that country is.

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Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire – We have this, which is pretty neat…

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Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire – And we have this, which is funny as hell though possessed with some salty language…



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