Alan Seabaugh Told The Feds To Keep Their Judgeship; What Does It Mean For Louisiana Politics?

In case you missed it on Friday, state Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport), who has a well-earned reputation as the most steadfast and vociferous conservative in the Louisiana House of Representatives, let the word out that he’s no longer pursuing a federal judgeship.

Republican state Rep. Alan Seabaugh of Shreveport has withdrawn his name from consideration for a federal judgeship, saying instead he will run for reelection and speaker of the House.

“I am honored to have been offered a lifetime appointment to such a prestigious position,” said Seabaugh, who had not yet been nominated. “However, the job and the timing ultimately were not a good fit for me and my family.

“Louisiana is currently facing many challenges and my role as a conservative leader in the Louisiana Legislature is more important than ever. I intend to run for reelection in 2019 and will be a serious candidate for the position of speaker of the House.”

State Reps. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, and Sherman Mack, R- Albany, are also seeking reelection and actively running to become the next speaker.

Seabaugh sent a letter Thursday to President Trump formally withdrawing, citing “unprecedented levels of delay and complication” in the nomination and confirmation process.

USA Today Network first reported in Feb. 2018 that Seabaugh was being considered for nomination to the Western District of Louisiana’s Alexandria Division.

Both of Louisiana’s senators, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, lamented the decision in a joint statement.

“I am disappointed because Alan is amply qualified to be an excellent federal judge.  He is a respected attorney who helps grade the Louisiana bar exam and brings a fiscally conservative voice to the Louisiana Legislature.  However, I certainly understand his decision.  Democrats are playing games by holding up the nomination process in the U.S. Senate and chasing away talented individuals.  Nominees can’t put their lives on hold indefinitely,” said Sen. Kennedy.

“I thank Alan for being willing to serve the people of Louisiana and submit to the nomination process,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Not too long ago, nominees for the federal bench received a Senate vote within months of being put forward, but now the process can take more than a year. We will work hard to make sure Louisiana’s Western District court is fully staffed as soon as possible.”

The word was that it wouldn’t be until April or May before the White House finally got around to making a formal nomination for Seabaugh as a federal judge, and from his standpoint that was going to be too long a wait. Seabaugh expected that he’d be nominated last fall, which was one reason he generally held his tongue in last year’s legislative sessions – at least, until he filibustered an attempt by Gov. John Bel Edwards and his allies in the House to make an end run around the state’s budget. Seabaugh was attempting to make himself less “controversial” in hopes Chuck Schumer and the Democrats wouldn’t attempt to sabotage the nomination.

But with the Trump administration bogged down on judgeships in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight, the word is nothing will happen until late spring.

And by then the legislative session will have started, and Seabaugh had no intention of keeping quiet two years in a row. So the federal judgeship isn’t a viable plan anymore.

And that means we’ll get the old Seabaugh, just in time to have a few good legislative fights over things like the minimum wage, teacher pay increases, taxes and ITEP just in time for an election year.

Seabaugh is also going to play a major role in the 2019 elections, especially as a candidate for Speaker.

He’s got maybe a couple-dozen Republican House members who’ll vote for him, which is a bit less than half the delegation. To get to 53 votes Seabaugh is going to have to lean heavily on the newcomers in the House. Which isn’t a bad strategy – thanks to term limits there are 31 House seats which are now open this fall by law, and 17 of those are currently Republican seats. An additional eight are seats where it’s at least possible a Republican can win. So if Seabaugh mounts a campaign of going around the state helping the right kinds of Republicans win House seats, he might just build himself a majority for his potential speakership – and in doing so make the House more conservative than ever.

This is a possibility nobody considered last year, because it was assumed he’d be a federal judge by now. Instead, Seabaugh is going to be everywhere in Louisiana pushing the conservative message, and the state will be a lot better for it.

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