All posts by Mark Ballard

Angelle poll shows Angelle way ahead in 3rd Congressional race

More than half of the voters in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District have a favorable opinion of GOP candidate Scott Angelle and would vote for him if the election were held today, according to a poll for which his campaign paid.

Angelle, who came in third in last fall’s gubernatorial election, and five others have said they would run in November to replace U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, the Lafayette Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Market Research Insight of Florida questioned 400 active voters in the 3rd congressional district in southwest Louisiana from April 18 to April 21 by landline and cell phone.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed had incomes between $20,000 to $79,999, 74 percent were white, and 83 percent are over the age of 45.

Scott Angelle had a 52 percent favorable recognition among those surveyed. All the other Republicans in the race came in with single digit ratings.

Former Lake Charles Rep. Brett Geymann, who led the fiscal conservatives before having to leave the Legislature because of term limits, had an 8 percent favorable recognition.

Lafayette Republican Greg Ellison, who was in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years before founding Kitty Hawk Energy, showed 7 percent favorables.

Lafayette Parish School Board member Erick Knezek, a Republican, had 6 percent.

Former U.S. ambassador to East Timor, Grover J. Rees, a Republican, had 4 percent.

Republican Gus Rantz, president of Acadiana Management Group in Lafayette, had 3 percent favorable recognition.

When asked if the election were held today, 56 percent of those surveyed favored Angelle, 31 percent were unsure, Ellison came in second at 5 percent, 3 percent for Geymann, 2 percent each for Knezek and Rees, and 1 percent for Rantz, according to Angelle’s poll.

Angelle is one of five elected members of the utility regulating Public Service Commission. He also serves on the LSU Board of Supervisors. He was a close aide to former Gov. Bobby Jindal, serving as his secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and as interim lieutenant governor.

During the gubernatorial campaign, it was Market Research Insight that conducted the poll that first showed Angelle gaining ground on U.S. Sen. David Vitter, the Republican considered the prohibitive favorite. After a bitter campaign, in which Angelle and fellow Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne repeatedly called Vitter a liar; Democrat John Bel Edwards won the elections.


Campaign commercials for John Bel Edwards win awards

Jared Arsement, the media consultant who produced commercials for the successful gubernatorial campaign of John Bel Edwards, was honored at the American Association of Political Consultants annual “Pollie” Awards in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Lafayette-based Arsement Media Group produced the ad – called a head shot by some, disgusting by others – that focused on GOP candidate David Vitter’s missing a vote in Congress to honor fallen soldiers on the same day he received a call from a prostitute. Politico named “The Choice” one of the top political ads of 2015.

Another of his spots told the story of how Edwards and his wife Donna refused a doctor’s advice to abort their first child after a spina bifida diagnosis. The commercial underscored Edwards’ opposition to abortion and deflated the usually successful effort to tie Louisiana Democratic candidates to the national party’s pro choice stance.

Edwards was the improbable winner of last fall’s gubernatorial election in a red state where Republicans dominate statewide politics. In the Nov. 21 runoff Edwards swamped Vitter, racking up 12 percent more votes against a Republican who had raised more money than his three major contenders combined before the primary election.

david vitter john bel edwards louisiana governor prostitute

Advocate file photo: U.S. Sen. David Vitter (right) and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (left).

Arsement was the sole winner in the Online Video category for “Chain Reaction.” And he took home Bronze for overall TV campaign.

According to the AAPC, “The Pollie Awards are the most prized and sought-after awards in the political communications and public affairs industries. Every entry – whether submitted by a large consulting company or an individual consultant – is considered equal in competing for honors of excellence. A blind jury of professional peers selects AAPC award winners.”


Population estimates suggest House district changes in 2020

If Louisiana census statistics continue as they are now, then Orleans and St. Bernard parishes will pick up seats in the state House of Representatives come 2020 – probably at the expense of Jefferson and East Baton Rouge parishes, according to political pollster John Couvillon of JMC Enterprises of Louisiana.

Additionally, robust growth from Lafayette to Slidell along the Interstate 10/Interstate 12 corridor indicates a new legislative district that includes parts of Baton Rouge suburbs and the North Shore, while another seat could be created in and around Lafayette.

Caddo and central/northeast Louisiana each would likely lose a House seat, he wrote.

Since the Louisiana House is fixed at 105 seats, those four gained seats have to be offset somewhere and that is done by charting shifting population, along with a healthy dose of politics, Couvillon writes in a blog post.

The U.S. Constitution requires an official count of the nation’s population every 10 years – the next one is due in 2020. But the U.S. Census Bureau, headquartered in Suitland, Md., released its latest estimates on Wednesday.

As of July 1, Louisiana’s population was estimated at 4,670,724. That’s up 3 percent since 2010, the last official census. Nationally, the growth rate is 4 percent.

Couvillon noted that 36 out of 64 Louisiana parishes lost population.


Jindal’s empire strikes back

Speaking of trolling, a former Jindal aide hit the Twitter-sphere to tweak the Republican’s replacement soon after the end of the special session in Baton Rouge that was aimed at balancing the budget bequeathed to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Though Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, one the GOP presidential hopefuls, on the campaign trail from to time, the former governor has remained mostly out of public view and silent despite having his name repeatedly taken in vain throughout the 25-day legislative meeting. But the slowness in trying to figure out just what the legislators did during the last eight minutes when they passed more than $1 billion in taxes apparently was too much for some.

“More than 36 hrs after #lalege voted for billions in taxes, the actual amount individuals, businesses will pay is still not available online,” tweeted Camille Conaway, a former Jindal aide who now works  for the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, the business lobbying group run by Stephen Waguespack, another former Jindal aide.

Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s political strategist, quickly retweeted Conaway.

Meanwhile, Edwards was in north Louisiana dealing with flooding and much of state government was shut down because  of the weather – including the legislative offices charged with calculating fiscal impacts. Nevertheless, many administration and legislative staffers worked in otherwise darkened office buildings trying to sort out just what deals were cut in the closing minutes of the session and just how those concessions affect Louisiana taxpayers.


More than 36 hrs after voted for billions in taxes, the actual amount individuals, businesses will pay is still not available online

Scott Angelle running for Congress

Scott Angelle

Scott Angelle

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle announced his candidacy for the U.S. Congress Thursday morning.

Angelle, who came in third in last fall’s governor’s race, had been widely rumored to be interested in running this fall for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate seat.

Congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, already entered the race to replace U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who is stepping down at the end of his term. Angelle is running for Boustany’s Third U.S. Congressional District seat, which covers nine Acadiana parishes and includes Lafayette and Lake Charles.

“Our families and communities in Southwest Louisiana, who help feed and fuel this nation, are struggling to survive oil prices at historic lows. Layoffs are happening every day. Our people need to know that Washington has our back. Instead, Washington’s answer is more regulations and a massive job-killing tax hike,” Angelle said in his press release.

Angelle was in charge of the state Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the oil and gas industry, under Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. For a short time, Angelle served as interim lieutenant governor. He was one of Jindal’s closest aides and lobbied legislators on behalf of the former governor.

He was elected to the Public Service Commission, which regulates utility companies, in 2012 and was appointed by Jindal to the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Angelle, who is from Breaux Bridge, started out the 2015 governor’s race polling less than 2 percent, but came within 41,000 votes, out of 1.1 million cast Oct. 24, of beating Vitter for a slot in the November runoff.

The congressional elections are Nov. 8, 2016, with a runoff, if necessary, on Dec. 3.

“As your congressman,” Angelle said in his announcement, “I will defend the Second Amendment, protect the sanctity of life and fight for religious freedom. I will stand up for our brave law enforcement officers and I will never cave to political correctness. I’ll continue to be a partner to our coastal ports, support our local farmers, and work with our economic development partners to cut the red tape and allow job creation.”

His father was a state representative in the 1960s and secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries under Gov. Edwin W. Edwards.  Angelle started his political career at the age of 25 as a police juror in St. Martin Parish, then was elected in 2000 as parish president. He was tapped by Blanco for her cabinet in 2004.

Angelle and his wife have three daughters and two sons.


Pamela Anderson offers to cook for Louisiana inmates

“Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson offered to cook a vegan meal in the state’s prisons if Gov. John Bel Edwards considers cutting meat from the diets of the state’s 37,500 inmates.

“If you left meat off menus in the 12 state-run prisons, Louisiana taxpayers would save as much as $620,000 a year,” Anderson wrote Edwards.

Beans, rice, lentils, pasta, potatoes, other vegetables and fruits provide the needed nutrients at a fraction of the price, she argued in her letter. Plus, vegan foodstuffs can be shipped and stored without refrigeration.

Broadcaster ORF moderator Alfons Haider, left, kisses the hand of U.S actress Pamela Anderson, during the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna, Austria, Feb. 4. The Opera Ball is one of the most privileged events in the Austrian social calendar, attracting invited local guests along with luminaries and international dignitaries. (AP Photo by Hans Punz)

Broadcaster ORF moderator Alfons Haider, left, kisses the hand of U.S actress Pamela Anderson, during the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna, Austria, Feb. 4. The Opera Ball is one of the most privileged events in the Austrian social calendar, attracting invited local guests along with luminaries and international dignitaries. (AP Photo by Hans Punz)

Since Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, the third highest obesity levels and a massive budget deficit,  Dan Mathews, a senior president with PETA, said Anderson felt the state offers “a great merging of issues.”

Working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Anderson went to Phoenix last year and cooked lunch for the 8,000 inmates in Maricopa County Jail. The prison switched to all-vegetarian diet for its inmates.

Mathews said Anderson would come to Louisiana if the state “just tries the the program out.”

The state Department of Corrections thanked Anderson for her concerns and hoped she would visit. But any shift in menus is not in the state’s immediate plans.

“While there may be some offenders who wouldn’t mind the change, let’s just say that any savings realized from the switch to vegan would easily be surpassed by the extensive damage caused to our facilities by those not so appreciative of the idea,” Corrections spokeswoman Pam LaBorde said in an emailed statement. “All of our state correctional facilities went smoke-free in 2015.  I shudder to think what would happen if we suggested taking away chicken, pork, beef and fish in 2016.”

Former Louisiana House speaker Chuck Kleckly joins Baton Rouge law firm’s lobby team

Former Louisiana House Speaker Chuck Kleckley joined the Baton Rouge law office of Adams and Reese LLP as an adviser on the firm’s Government Relations Practice Team.

Kleckley led the House for four years beginning in 2012. He left the Legislature after meeting his house term limit.

Under the ethics law, Kleckley cannot directly lobby legislators for two years, but he following a well-worn “advisers” path that prominent lawmakers have used in the interim.  The Republican is not a lawyer but was a Lake Charles businessman.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley gavels the Louisiana House of Representatives into session on Monday.

Then-House Speaker Chuck Kleckley gavels the Louisiana House of Representatives into session in 2014.

“My priority will be exceeding expectations as a trusted government relations advocate that companies, associations and government entities can rely on in this ever-changing economic, business and regulatory environment,” Kleckley said in a news release from the firm.

Kleckley is the second former speaker to join the law firm’s government relations office. E.L. “Bubba” Henry, also with the firm, was the House speaker from 1972 to 1980.

“I am excited to welcome another former Speaker to our firm,” Henry said in a prepared statement.

Moon Landrieu to back Hillary Clinton

Former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu is endorsing the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the campaign announced Monday.

He’ll make the official announcement at the 6 p.m. Tuesday opening of Clinton’s Louisiana campaign office. The office is at 1516 Thalia Street, New Orleans.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton faces U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders the state Democratic Party’s March 5 Presidential Primary, and a few also-ran candidates.

Landrieu, who is the father of the city’s current leader, was mayor from 1970 to 1978.  He’s also the father of former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. He serves as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Jimmy Carter, and then was a judge on the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A group of Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus members are slated to endorse Clinton at the State Capitol soon, but the ceremony was postponed due to scheduling conflicts related to the special session.


Hillary Clinton rallies crowd in Baton Rouge

Hillary Clinton to hold New Orleans fundraiser

— Poll: In Bobby Jindal vs. Hillary Clinton, Louisiana voters say they want the Democrat

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal has jury duty

Carrying a sack lunch and reading material, former Gov. Bobby Jindal is reporting this week for jury duty in Baton Rouge’s 19th Judicial District Court.

bobby jindal, louisiana,

Gov. Bobby Jindal appears on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in July.

As of Wednesday morning, Jindal had not been chosen to hear a trial, according to an aide. His service began Tuesday morning.

Hundreds of prospective jurors  serve the week and wait in the courthouse until selected to hear a trial. Prospective jurors in East Baton Rouge Parish are chosen at random from voter registration and drivers’ license lists.

The former governor, who left office last week, now lives in a subdivision off Nicholson Drive in south Baton Rouge.

Joseph Bouie elected chairman of Legislative Black Caucus

The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus elected New Orleans Rep. Joseph Bouie Jr. as its chairman for 2016-2017.

Rep. Joseph Bouie

Rep. Joseph Bouie

Rep. Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace was elected vice chairman.

With 30 members the Black Caucus is one of the largest groups in the Legislature.

Bouie, 69, is a retired administrator at Southern University New Orleans.