Here’s an excerpt from a letter that went out this morning to Republican members of the Louisiana House of Representatives in advance of Friday’s crucial meeting of the 68-member GOP delegation, with respect to the race for Speaker of the House which is expected to be decided soon…
Congratulations on your election to the Louisiana House of Representatives. We look forward to working with you to advance conservative reform in Louisiana.
The people of Louisiana have spoken. With their votes for senators and representatives they have sent a clear message on conservative representation. Honoring those votes by ensuring we have a conservative Speaker backed by the majority of our majority party in the State House is extremely important.
To be clear, we do not have a preference on who becomes Speaker and leads our party in the House. We encourage you all to attend the Republican caucus meeting on Friday in Baton Rouge. Whatever member is able to gather the majority of Republican votes, should be unanimously nominated and supported by our 68 members.
We were proud to play a small part as the Co-Chairman of LCCM this past election cycle. And are excited about the conservative leaders that were re-elected and elected from every part of the state. Now is the time to go to work for the people of Louisiana and ensure that we follow their mandate of conservative leadership throughout the legislature.
Again, we encourage you all to attend the Republican Caucus meeting Friday in Baton Rouge and come up with a consensus candidate we all may rally behind to advance a conservative agenda of building a better business climate, tort reform, lower spending, standing up for our children not education bureaucrats, and lowering taxes.
Thanks for all you do. We look forward to working with you the next four years.
AG Jeff Landry and US Senator John Kennedy
Landry and Kennedy were, as co-chairs of LCCM, very largely responsible for delivering the knockout GOP score in the legislative elections which finished up last month, so this isn’t some idle statement they’ve made.
This letter is pretty similar to a pair of posts Hayride readers have seen here over the past couple of weeks – first, in an entry co-authored by LAGOP chairman Louis Gurvich and Sen. Conrad Appel, and then in a follow-on post by yours truly. The basic message is the same in all three – voters were pretty adamant in wanting to see a legislature committed to smaller, more honest and effective government and lower taxes, and they voiced that opinion by giving Republicans 68 seats out of 105 in the House and 27 out of 39 Senate seats.
That, as Stephen Waguespack said this morning, is a far clearer mandate than John Bel Edwards received in winning a 51-49 race over Eddie Rispone and the out-of-touch, dysfunctional campaign his out-of-state consultants crafted for him while robbing him of his money (Wags didn’t offer that characterization; we just thought we’d reiterate the obvious – and if you’re interested in why we think it needs to be said feel free to see more on that subject here, here, here, here, here and here).
The concern is that one of the two major candidates for Speaker – Sherman Mack (R-Denham Springs) or Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) would attempt to reach across the aisle to Democrats in order to craft a majority for his speakership. If one of them were to go to, say, John Bel Edwards and corral all the Democrats and the two independents behind his bid, that would be 37 votes. Add his own vote and he’s at 38, which means he would only need 15 of the 67 other Republicans to back him and he’s at 53 votes.
The Legislative Black Caucus, it’s rumored, is demanding seven of the 16 House committee chairmanships, including one of the “money” committees, as the price of its support. That’s an insane demand and it’s difficult to imagine either Mack or Schexnayder would be able to get 15 Republicans on board with any coalition which gives up that much.
We don’t think this is all that likely a circumstance. We think one of the two, or perhaps if there is some sort of stalemate a dark horse like, for example Ray Garofalo (R-Chalmette) could emerge as a middle-way candidate, will end up getting 35 votes of the 68 in the room. Once that happens it’s likely a deal can be cut within the delegation – for example, if Mack were to win he’d offer Schexnayder the speaker pro tem position and do as Garofalo and some others have suggested, namely to turn it into more of a majority-whip position.
In that way the Republicans wouldn’t have to make any deals with Edwards or the Democrats as to the leadership of the House, and in that way a maximum amount of leverage could be achieved that would make a major difference in legislative policy-making. Because if Republicans control all of the levers of power in the House, their offers of committee chairmanships and vice-chairmanships to Democrats – which would be necessarily few in number – would come with the understanding that any time the leadership needed a vote on a major piece of legislation, the chairmanship or vice-chairmanship would be dependent on said Democrat supplying it.
At 68 votes, getting to 70 is not difficult under such circumstances. Given the coming redistricting fight and the knowledge by the two independents and seven white Democrats that Republicans and the Black Caucus could very easily get together and draw them right out of their district by making it either more Republican or more black, there are more potential votes to override an Edwards veto than anybody thinks.
But to get there would require strong, unified leadership – only arrived at by consensus support among Republicans in that delegation meeting to put iron in that leadership’s spine.
That’s what Landry and Kennedy are calling for, and that’s what’s needed.
It doesn’t matter to us who the Speaker is. The process, however, has to be based on sound principle, fealty to the will of the voters and good legislative strategy. Hopefully, that’s what we’ll get on Friday.