We’re Now Willing To Get Behind Clay Schexnayder

This isn’t a joke, and it isn’t a troll. We’re serious about this. We’re going to give Schexnayder a real opportunity to earn our support as House Speaker for the rest of his term. We’ll explain why.

Last night in Mandeville, Rep. Alan Seabaugh spoke at the Hayride dinner. Not four hours after Schexnayder’s House of Representatives had fallen two votes short of an historic override of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of SB 156, the bill banning males in girls’ sports in the state, he was at that podium. And Seabaugh said something very interesting.

He said that this veto session, for all the disappointment of not actually overriding any vetoes, was a structural success for the House of Representatives.

Seabaugh, if you’ll remember, was one of the most outspoken supporters of Schexnayder’s opponent, Sherman Mack, when those two were duking it out for the Speakership back in January of 2000. He has been a critic of Schexnayder’s. Seabaugh was the guy pushing the petition to reopen Louisiana last year that Schexnayder was opposing, until Schexnayder’s face was covered with egg after a special-session suspensive resolution gambit he tried collapsed.  Schexnayder then, far too late, ran his own petition (which is still in court, by the way, with Edwards likely bringing that issue back to the forefront with the Delta Variant craze sweeping Democrat policymakers across the country).

Conservatives across the state have a very low opinion of Clay Schexnayder.

And yet Seabaugh said the veto session galvanized the House GOP delegation. He said the delegation meetings had struggled with attendance and that Schexnayder hadn’t been responsive to them. He also mentioned that the distrust over the fact Schexnayder had gotten himself elected Speaker with mostly Democrat votes, distrust which ran both ways because Schexnayder was just as terrified of the conservatives who might potentially run a coup against him as the conservatives were peeved about his method of victory and the solicitous way he treated those Democrats, was corrosive.

But that’s changed now. Seabaugh said with the veto session we’re past the election. He said the delegation, buffeted by voters deluging them with clear messages of support for the overrides, now has a much clearer sense of purpose than before and Schexnayder’s willingness to put his credibility on the line by calling that veto session and running that girls’ sports bill was a big step for them.

Previously, House Speakers would never have gone for veto sessions. They would have demanded those “no” ballots from the members so as to stay away from the scary possibility of looking like a loser.

But Schexnayder didn’t dodge that bullet. He took it. He backed the veto session, and when he did he gave those legislators, particularly the conservatives, a chance to vote their principles – at least on SB 156.

This despite the fact the House doesn’t have enough Republicans to override a veto. It’s two votes short. It needs 70, and it has 68.

So what happened Wednesday? One hour before the vote on SB 156, Schexnayder had 72 votes for an override.

Roy Daryl Adams, an independent from Jackson, had told Schexnayder he was a “yes.” Adams was also in talks with LAGOP chairman Louis Gurvich about switching to Republican, and making demands that Gurvich clear the field for him to run for Senate District 17, currently represented by Rick Ward, in the 2023 elections.

Gurvich made no promises to Adams. But Edwards made promises and/or threats of such significance that Adams’ word to Schexnayder turned into a lie.

Also lying to the Speaker, as we’re given to understand from a couple of sources yesterday, were Democrats Travis Johnson of Ferriday, Chad Brown of Plaquemine and Mack Cormier of Belle Chasse. It’s clear that Edwards put the arm on them and succeeded.

How many voters in Ferriday, Plaquemine and Belle Chasse, much less Jackson, want to see confused high school boys on the girls’ basketball team? This was John Bel Edwards marching Democrats (Roy Daryl Adams is a Democrat, so you’ll know, in everything but name; perhaps he suffers from a political gender dysphoria or something) off a cliff to please the DNC in Washington.

To say nothing of Louisiana’s black community, which is now represented 100 percent by politicians in the Louisiana legislature who believe that “transwomen,” meaning “women” with penises, are “women” for the purposes of which sports teams they play on. And in case there is any confusion about this, Rep. Royce Duplessis, a House Democrat from New Orleans, gave an impassioned speech about the “unfairness” of forcing “transwomen,” meaning “women” with penises, to compete as boys in Louisiana high school athletics.

This is what Edwards forced Democrat legislators to do. And they did it. And Edwards is a lame duck highly unlikely to win an election in Louisiana ever again.

What does that tell you if you’re Clay Schexnayder?

This isn’t complicated. It’s very simple. If you’re Clay Schexnayder, and we’re going to give him space to get there, you recognize that the days of giving a break to the Democrats and/or the Legislative Black Caucus, are done. Finished. Kaput.

There was reason, up until now, to give the Democrats some leeway and treat them in many cases better than the Republicans. Because the Democrats were the key to getting 70 votes for veto-proof majorities.

But if they won’t even buck John Bel Edwards on a bill to tell “women” with penises that they have to compete against men with penises rather than women without penises when it comes to high school and college sports, that rationale is now exposed as a fantasy. He has 68 votes, or 67 if you rightly refuse to count the confused Joe Stagni of Kenner, and that’s pretty much it. He can’t count on getting to 70.

So be it. Schexnayder is now the Republican Speaker of a Republican House. He doesn’t have a super majority, but he does have a majority that can’t be penetrated.

There is value, and power, in that.

Here’s what it looks like. We’re going to give Schexnayder space to make these things happen. He should. It’s now in his interest to do them.

First of all, Malinda White threatened to murder Alan Seabaugh on the floor of the House at the end of the spring legislative session. That is unacceptable. Malinda White, a “yes” vote on SB 156 back in the spring session who for cynical political purposes recently renounced the “D” next to her name, refused to attend this session, citing some unconvincing health conditions. Those were spurious at best; she didn’t show up because if she had, there would likely have been momentum for her to be arrested for assault and battery.

The State Police referred that case to 19th Judicial District Attorney Hillar Moore with a recommendation White be prosecuted. Clay Schexnayder isn’t in a position to influence Moore’s decision, but what he can do is publicly state that Malinda White is no longer a member of any committees in the Louisiana House of Representatives and never will be again. In particular she needs to be removed from the House and Governmental Affairs Committee which is going to be where Louisiana’s redistricting plans go through later this year.

We called for that to be done. It has to be done now. A Republican Speaker of a Republican House would do it. That’s what Schexnayder is now, so it’s on the agenda and it’s overdue.

Second, as LAGOP chairman Louis Gurvich suggested in a press release Wednesday afternoon, and not for the first time, Democrats have to lose committee chairmanships and they’ve got to be replaced not just by Republicans but by members of the Conservative Caucus. We might differ with Gurvich on the scope of that demand. There are five of the 16 House committees which are currently chaired by Democrats, a number which is relatively high for a minority party historically. Gurvich says all five have to go; we’re not necessarily on board with that. But the principle of collective punishment is 100 percent in order here.

What we would say is three absolutely have to go, starting with Ted James’ chairmanship of the Criminal Justice Committee. James is the head of the Black Caucus and he has behaved so badly this year in that role as to make a mockery of the legislative process. Schexnayder has let him get away with murder, even going so far as kowtowing to James on the question of firing Ray Garofalo as the House Education Committee for having brought a bill to scrub critical race theory from Louisiana’s public schools.

James ought to be publicly fired from his chairmanship of that committee tomorrow. Or today. If not five minutes ago.

Further, Chad Brown is chair of the Insurance Committee. He has to be publicly fired as chair and removed from that committee altogether, as soon as possible. Lie to the Speaker and you ought to get a very large foul-smelling pie in your face for your trouble.

And Stagni is the vice-chair of the Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee, which ought to be taken from him for having been the only Republican voting against SB 156. That might not be fair, but as Stagni has made himself a pariah within the GOP there is no reason Schexnayder should carry him. Stagni had value for Schexnayder when he was one of 23 Republicans joining with Democrats to make Schexnayder Speaker, which made him useful as a barrier against a coup attempt, but that’s old news now. New news is Stagni being the outlier on the single most obvious bill in front of the legislature this year, and with a likely censure coming from the LAGOP he needs to be relegated to the back bench.

And by the way, Garofalo needs to return as Education Committee chair. And his Critical Race Theory bill needs to make a triumphant return to the legislative fore at next year’s session if not before. Let Edwards veto it if he wants, and let the bodies hit the floor.

We can live with two Democrats as committee chairs. But those Democrats must be made to swear on their mothers and children that as part of the Speaker’s leadership team, when he demands their vote on a piece of legislation, they will give it. Those two, along with the 68 Republicans, will get you to 70 votes. And that pledge must be understood to trump any offers or threats John Bel Edwards might make.

This is how it’s done in every legislative body in America outside of Louisiana. It must be done here, now. And if two Democrats can’t be found who are willing to make such a pledge and stick to it, so be it – all 16 committees should then by chaired by Republicans.

Randal Gaines, Vincent Pierre and Barbara Carpenter currently chair the Judiciary, Transportation and Labor committees, respectively. They need to be apprised of the new reality and put to the question whether they want to continue serving as lickspittles to the lame-duck governor at the expense of their committee chairmanships.

And when the corrupt newspaper in Baton Rouge then declares that “Washington politics has come to Baton Rouge,” Schexnayder’s response should be “Damn right it has, and it was John Bel Edwards and the Democrats who brought it.”

Third, and not quite finally because once Schexnayder has done these things there will be opportunities for more progress to be made, Louisiana’s legislature is heading into a redistricting session later this year.

And redistricting should be a bloodbath for the Democrats. It should be done, particularly in the House, with an eye toward manufacturing as many GOP districts as possible and in particular at the expense of white Democrats.

Here’s how that can look.

Brown and Jeremy Lacombe of New Roads are white Democrats who were initial “yes” votes on SB 156 before flipping on it in the veto session; Brown after lying to Schexnayder’s face. Their districts adjoin one another. If you smack them together you can make a black district, and the other district might well be a Republican district. That should be done; if it’s done well enough you’ll redistrict both of them right out of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Nobody will really miss either one.

Schexnayder ought to be at war with both of them. This is his nuclear option. Use it.

Another example: Mandie Landry and Aimee Freeman are a pair of white Democrats in uptown New Orleans. You can smack them together and create a black district. That should absolutely be done; the other district might still be a Democrat district, but worst case scenario you’re making them run against each other. Do this well enough and you might just squeeze Landry into a U.S. Senate bid against John Kennedy, which would be the most beautiful disaster in Louisiana political history.

Finally, Adams’ district in the Felicianas can be smacked together with Robby Carter’s district to create a black district and a Republican district. Carter is an especially loathsome slimeball of a Democrat, and Seabaugh told a disgusting story last night of Carter threatening to lead the opposition to a veto override on a bill (which was totally uncontroversial) that he himself had co-authored because it had Seabaugh’s name on it and Edwards was so petty as to seek to deny Seabaugh credit for passing it. Carter even then told Seabaugh that he’d be happy to carry the bill in a future session because that way the governor would sign it.

Gee, thanks, Robby. You can go die in a fire now. Politically speaking, of course.

Adams and Carter completely deserve each other and they should be forced into the same district, preferably with as large a black population as possible so they both get slaughtered by a black Democrat in 2023. Perhaps that might be something Gwen Collins-Greenup can finally get elected to. If what’s left over is a Republican district, that’ll be fine.

Then there’s Cormier and Stagni, whose districts probably ought to be chopped to pieces and eliminated. Or maybe not; the guess is a Republican who doesn’t suck could beat each of them in 2023 even with no major changes to the district map.

A House Speaker can do these things. It actually isn’t hard. He just has to make the decision to throw his weight behind them. The minute he recognizes he has that weight, and who his real friends are, everything starts to become very clear. Like it is in other, more successful, states.

And the Black Caucus isn’t going to fight him on an aggressive redistricting plan, by the way, because at the end of the day the Black Caucus is about increasing the number of seats they get and not much else. Set them against what white Democrats are left in the House, and they will gladly stick the knife in their throats. They just haven’t been brought to that decision. Schexnayder, as a newly-minted Republican Speaker of a Republican House, is the man who can do it. Especially if he can find a couple of Black Caucus committee chairmen who are willing to be loyal to him in return for catching two or three extra seats for the Caucus.

Do this and you’ll easily have a veto-proof majority for your Louisiana House redistricting plan, and Clay Schexnayder now has a very solid legacy he can brag about to fellow Republicans.

And we’re sure that Schexnayder, if he takes some time to consider what his position is following the events of the veto session this week, will recognize this is how he’s got to govern that body going forward.

So we’re going to give him the space to get there, and we aren’t going to beat him up about what happened. Clay Schexnayder got an education this week. We’re going to hold out hope, as many of the conservatives in the House are now doing, that he’ll put it to use.

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