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Democratic Party backs Cedric Richmond in congressional race

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans

The Louisiana Democratic Party endorsed Saturday U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond’s reelection bid for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

The Democratic State Central Committee, meeting as a body for the second time this spring, voted to endorse Richmond’s re-election campaign on the strength of his service and his commitment to Democratic family values, according to a party release.

Richmond, who has been Louisiana’s sole Democratic congressman since 2010,  faces Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden, a fellow Democrat who is finishing up his final term.

Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden

Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden

“In his tenure to date as our representative in Congress, Cedric has proven himself a capable leader and a true friend to the people of his district,” said New Orleans Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who is chair of the state party.

The Baton Rouge end of the 2nd Congressional district has 98,963 registered voters, while Jefferson and Orleans parishes have 336,178 registered voters, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Another 70,000 voters live in the parishes along the Mississippi River between the two.

The Rundown: May 18, 2016

Louisiana Legislature Bobby Jindal The Advocate

Today in The Rundown: Resolution calls for restoration of trade with Cuba; Rep. Bryan Adams talks his decision to leave the Legislature; Bills on sanctuary cities and abortion get delayed a week; nursing home bill stalls amid intense pressure from the industry; and more.

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Days until the 2016 regular Louisiana legislative session ends: 19

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The Rundown: May 17, 2016

Louisiana Legislature Bobby Jindal The Advocate

Today in The Rundown: Capitol is evacuated for bomb threat; lawmakers still looking to avoid special session; Two House members prepare to step down; and more.

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Days until the 2016 regular Louisiana legislative session ends: 20

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Gov. John Bel Edwards to host fundraiser for Foster Campbell

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards will host a fundraiser later this month for Foster Campbell, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate.

According to an event invitation obtained by The Advocate, the event will take place at the Windsor Court Hotel on Gravier Street on May 31. Attendees will pay $1,000 to $5,400 per person.

Other hosts listed include former New Orleans Mayor Sidney Barthelemy; state House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger; Orleans Parish Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell; and prominent lawyer John Cummings.

Campbell, who serves on the state Public Service Commission, faces Democrats Caroline Fayard, the Rev. Peter Williams and Josh Pellerin and several Republicans in the Nov. 8 election. Under Louisiana’s “jungle primary” system, all candidates — regardless of party — will appear on the same ballot. A runoff will take place between the top two candidates on Dec. 3 if no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote. The runoff can be between candidates of the same party if they come in first and second in November.

Edwards, a Democrat who took office Jan. 11, has urged the state’s Democrats to vote for Campbell.

Louisiana Democrats take aim at Donald Trump via Bobby Jindal

The Louisiana Democratic Party has unveiled a new ad taking aim at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The man quoted in the ad: Former Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican and frequent target of the state Democrats.

Louisiana Democrats Donald Trump Bobby Jindal

A new ad from the Louisiana Democratic Party uses clips of former Gov. Bobby Jindal to attack GOP nominee Donald Trump.

The ad, which was debuted on a new site called, splices clips of Jindal, who made his own unsuccessful bid for president last year, referring to Trump as “a carnival act” and “an egomaniac” who is “full of nonsense” and “shallow,” among other claims.

“He cannot be the nominee. He cannot be our next president,” Jindal says in one clip from CNN.

Jindal, who left office in January, has since said he plans to support Trump, now that all other candidates have exited the GOP race for the nomination.

Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign recently released its own ad using Trump’s former GOP opponents to make a case for why he shouldn’t be elected president.

The tactic may remind Louisiana voters of last fall’s gubernatorial race. One of the more prominent ads that GumboPAC ran during the runoff spliced together attacks lobbed by Republicans who had been opponents of U.S. Sen. David Vitter, rather than attacks directly from Democrat John Bel Edwards.

The Rundown: May 16, 2016

Louisiana Legislature Bobby Jindal The Advocate

Today in The Rundown: Senate begins working on the budget; transportation woes stretch on; a look at Cameron Henry: and more.

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Days until the 2016 regular Louisiana legislative session ends: 21

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Politico: David Vitter in talks for lobbyist job

U.S. Sen. David Vitter hasn’t said what he’ll do when he leaves office next year, but a new report out from Politico says Louisiana’s senior senator “has had talks about working on K Street” — Washington’s lobbying hub.

The report cites unnamed sources.

David Vitter

U.S. Sen. David Vitter talks to reporters before he goes to see the movie “The Interview” at Chalmette Movies on Dec. 29. (Advocate photo)

Shortly after losing last fall’s gubernatorial election to Democrat John Bel Edwards, Republican Vitter announced he would not seek re-election this year. He’s been in the Senate for the past decade, and he previously served in Congress and the Louisiana Legislature.

According to Politico, Vitter’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the tip, but the political news site points out that Senate ethics rules prohibit negotiating such jobs until one’s successor has been elected and the talks may not have risen to the level of “negotiations” yet.

Louisiana voters will head to the polls this fall to elect Vitter’s replacement. (A host of Republicans and Democrats are already vying for his seat.)

Federal ethics laws require outgoing Senators to take a two-year “cooling off” period before they can become registered lobbyists, but they frequently sign on as “consultants” to lobbying firms during that period.

Louisiana’s last U.S. Senator who left office also went the DC lobby firm route. Democrat Mary Landrieu went to work for Van Ness Feldman after losing a bid for her fourth term in 2014.

Billboards going up to promote medical marijuana legislation

medical marijuana louisiana legislature

Medical marijuana advocates are launching billboards in Baton Rouge and Shreveport today (May 10) to promote legislation that would set up the framework for treatment in Louisiana.

The billboards, being paid for by the national Marijuana Policy Project,  feature two local mothers and their young children, who suffer from seizure-related disorders: Katie Corkern of Amite and her son, Connor; and Brittany Osborne of Baton Rouge and her daughter, Kalie. The billboards read, “Medical marijuana would help my child. Will our legislators?”

Senate Bill 271 aims to add more medical conditions that would be covered and address other concerns about the distribution of cannabis oil. It narrowly won approval in a House committee last week and is scheduled to be heard by the full chamber on Wednesday. It already has passed the Senate.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana for more than two decades, but no one’s been able to legally use it because the state didn’t establish a framework for the distribution or cultivation of the plant, which remains a Schedule I narcotic on the federal level. Lawmakers continue to work through legal hang-ups for distribution and cultivation of cannabis oil, which is a nonintoxicating derivative of marijuana that doesn’t create the drug’s “high” that recreational users seek.

Gov. John Bel Edwards recently indicated that he supports legislation that would give access to medical marijuana but he doesn’t support recreational legalization. Edwards, who was supported by the law enforcement community during the gubernatorial campaign, mentioned parents like Corkern but said he understands concerns by the District Attorneys and Sheriffs who worry that it could send the state down a path to the legalization of recreational marijuana.

That fear of creep — that the medicinal use of oil made from cannabis will eventually lead to the widespread recreational use of the smoked drug — has led many to continue to oppose allowing access to medical marijuana here.

The Rundown: May 10, 2016

Louisiana Legislature Bobby Jindal The Advocate

Today in The Rundown: Budget bill advances; lawmakers strip bloated capital outlay list; retirees could get cost-of-living increases; and more.

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Days until the 2016 regular Louisiana legislative session ends: 27

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Bid to revamp school letter grades on hold

A bill on Tuesday’s agenda of the House Education Committee would spark controversy.

But the sponsor of the plan, state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said Friday he will not push it.

The legislation is House Bill 1075.

It would ban the state from labeling school districts A or B if they contain any D or F schools.

Critics of the grading system contend it is inflated, and that even top-rated school districts often include an inordinate number of troubled schools.

Teacher unions and others, who have long criticized the issuance of letter grades, would likely oppose any push for changes that would  worsen how districts fare statewide.

They contend the current system is misleading.

With less than  a month in the regular session — adjournment is June 6 — any push for Carter’s bill would face major hurdles, and a possible veto by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

In addition, some expect legislation next year to revamp the way letter grades are issued, including making the ranges more similar to scores needed for traditional A’s and B’s.