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Higher ed forum slated for candidates running for governor

Three of the four major candidates for governor will take part in a forum on the future of higher education on Wednesday.

The discussion, sponsored by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, will air throughout the state on LPB and online at 8 p.m. While there have been several gubernatorial forums already, this one is slated to be the first to air live state-wide.

Per LPB, the discussion will feature student panelists from Northshore Technical Community College and Southeastern Louisiana University. Southeastern alum Paul Rivera, who received the 2015 Louisiana Press Association Student Broadcaster of the Year Award, will serve as moderator.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public  Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, both Republicans, and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards are expected to participate.

The election is Oct. 24, with a Nov. 21 runoff, if needed. Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter also is in the race.

Watch the forum here at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Bobby Jindal signs Norquist-backed anti-tax pledge in presidential campaign

Though its adherence became a political football in the most recent legislative session, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has again signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s no-new-tax pledge — this time for his presidential campaign.

Bobby Jindal Grover Norquist ATR pledge

Gov. Bobby Jindal

ATR, in a Tuesday news release, applauded Jindal’s latest signing of the Grover Norquist-designed “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

“Gov. Jindal understands that government should be reformed so that it takes and spends less of the taxpayers’ money, and will oppose tax increases that paper over and continue the failures of the past,” Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in the release.

Jindal, who has trailed in the crowded GOP presidential candidate pool since launching his campaign June 24, signed the pledge throughout his tenure as governor. But it earned more attention this session as it became a particular point of frustration for Louisiana lawmakers who struggled to fill a $1.6 billion budget gap this session while keeping to Jindal’s “revenue neutral” promise.

Jindal’s administration ultimately came up with a widely-criticized scheme involving cigarette taxes, refundable tax credits and a virtual credit for college students.

Officials acknowledged that ATR was being consulted throughout the budgeting process so that the plan would not violate Jindal’s pledge. At one point, state lawmakers, frustrated by what they saw as constraints on the process, even reached out to Norquist himself for advice.

The whole ordeal prompted Democratic political analyst James Carville to argue in a letter to the LSU student newspaper that the pledge — and Jindal’s fear of breaking it — had made Washington D.C.-based Norquist “the most powerful person in our state.”

“Proposed legislation is routinely sent to him by the governor to seek his approval. Trust me its true,” Carville wrote.

According to ATR, in addition to Jindal, Republican presidential candidates who have signed the pledge so far include Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Dr. Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore.

Donald Trump, the leading Republican in the polls, however, has reportedly been skeptical of the pledge, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said he opposes tax hikes but has opted not to sign the pledge.

Bobby Jindal at No. 13 on USA Today’s GOP Power Rankings

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has come in at No. 13 in the first week of USA Today’s new 2016 GOP Power Rankings.

Inspired by the college football “Coaches Poll,” the GOP Power Rankings rely on a diverse group of analysts, activists and other experts to size up the Republican presidential field.

Unsurprisingly, businessman Donald Trump came out on top in Week 1. See the full rankings and a list of the voters here.

Jindal is back in Iowa campaigning this week, with an event that is being billed as his first campaign stop on an Iowa livestock farm slated for Wednesday at Leonard Limousin & Angus Farm in rural Holstein.

Per an announcement from the Iowa Federation of Republican Women, “Against a backdrop of green grass, white barns and red and black Limousin and Angus cattle, Jindal will talk with voters about topics important to them, including his pro-life stance, views on health care, religious liberty, energy and immigration.”

Jindal has made Iowa key to his presidential campaign, though he has so far struggled to break out of the low single digits in most polls.

A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll out this week from Iowa showed Jindal among the most improved there, and noted high favorability marks for him as he continues his tour of each of the state’s 99 counties.

On the national level, a poll out from Public Policy Polling this week showed Jindal falling below 1 percent among a national audience, but similarly showed relatively high favorability and low unfavorability rates.

PSC Commissioner Campbell to endorse Edwards

Democrat gubernatorial contender John Bel Edwards is set  to be endorsed Tuesday by fellow Democrat Foster Campbell, a member of the Public Service Commission.

Edwards, a state representative from Amite, will join Edwards for a 4:30 p.m. announcement at Campbell’s PSC office in Shreveport.

Campbell will also host a fundraiser for Edwards, according to Campbell’s office.

Campbell, who was elected to the PSC in 2002, made a failed bid for governor in 2007.

He served in the state Senate for 27 years.


Teacher unions to issue joint endorsements

Louisiana’s two teacher unions said they plan joint recommendations in the races for governor, Legislature and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators are calling their effort the “It’s Time to Get it Right” campaign.

“Louisiana voters have a unique opportunity to elect leaders to office who can truly transform this state,” LAE President Debbie Meaux said in a prepared  statement.

LFT President Steve Monaghan  called this year’s election  “a watershed event.

“It’s time to take a stand for public education and truly put Louisiana families and kids first,” Monaghan said.

Both groups usually back Democrat candidates for governor.

The  LFT headquarters in Baton Rouge is dotted with signs for Democrat gubernatorial contender John Bel Edwards of Amite.

The group’s website is

Filing in the race for governor and other offices is Sept. 8-11.

The primary is Oct. 24. Runoffs are Nov. 21.


House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., to host town hall meeting on Iran deal Wednesday in East Jefferson

Voters can ask questions about the proposed nuclear deal with Iran at a town hall  meeting Wednesday hosted by U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in his home town of Jefferson.

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Jefferson Parish East Bank Council Chamber in the Joseph S. Yenni Building, 1211 Elmwood Park Blvd.

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Bobby Jindal to talk Katrina anniversary on two Sunday news shows

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to appear on ABC’s This Week and CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday morning.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also is slated to appear on Face the Nation.

Jindal, who is running for president but has taken a break from the campaign trail this week to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, appeared on both MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Fox News’ America’s Newsroom on Thursday.

“We’re honored to come back today and not only mourn the loss of those who aren’t with us anymore, but to also celebrate the future of those who are building a better New Orleans and a better Louisiana,” he said on MSNBC, praising aid that poured in from around the country in Katrina’s wake.

Jindal, a congressman when Katrina struck, took over as governor just three years after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage and wide-spread flooding in New Orleans.

Jindal is slated to return to the campaign trail with an appearance at the Harrison County GOP Fundraiser in Logan, Iowa, Sunday evening.

On Friday, he called a meeting of the state’s Unified Command Group at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to discuss preparations for Tropical Storm Erika.

“As with every storm, we always hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” Jindal said in a news release urging residents to have a storm game plan in place.

Business groups to hold forum for governor candidates next week

Gubernatorial candidates (L to R): David Vitter, Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle and John Bel Edwards.

Gubernatorial candidates (L to R): David Vitter, Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle and John Bel Edwards.

The four leading candidates for Louisiana governor will participate in another forum in New Orleans next week organized by the region’s leading business organizations.

Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republicans Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne and David Vitter are slated to take part in the Southeast Super Region Committee-sponsored event at 2 p.m. next Friday at the Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market.

According to organizers, the program will be led by Greater New Orleans Inc. Chairman Bill Hoffman, Baton Rouge Area Chamber Board Chair Van Mayhall and South Louisiana Economic Council Board Chair Scott Melancon.

Baton Rouge Area Foundation Executive VP John Spain will serve as moderator.

“This forum will be an important opportunity to highlight each candidate’s plan for economic growth and development in Louisiana. We know that the super region is a critical piece of the economic fabric in our state and want to bring our work to the forefront of the gubernatorial election,” Spain said in a news release.

The event will be open to over 300 members of the Super Region business community and major media outlets. A networking reception for all participants will immediately follow the forum.

Insurance Commissioner Donelon attracts another opponent

Baton Rouge attorney Charlotte McDaniel McGehee announced Wednesday she will run for Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance.

McGehee becomes the second candidate trying to unseat incumbent Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon in fall elections.

Another political newcomer Matt Parker, a businessman from West Monroe, previously said he would run.

McGehee is a Democrat. Donelon and Parker are Republicans.

Candidate sign-up is Sept. 8-10. The primary election is Oct. 24.

McGehee’s law practice deals with employment litigation and family law. A graduate of Ascension Catholic High School and Southeastern Louisiana University, she studied law at the Southern University Law Center. She has been a practicing attorney since 1999, working in Jonesboro for her first year after passing the bar before returning home to Baton Rouge.

“Louisiana families deserve a Commissioner of Insurance who will work for them to put Louisiana first, and get our state back to basics,” McGehee said in an announcement statement. “I’ve been a business owner and an entrepreneur, and a working mother to three young children. I know the challenges our families face, and I’m committed to fighting for them every day.”

McGehee lives in Ascension Parish with her husband, Troy, and their three children.


Bobby Jindal pens letter to Obama: ‘Don’t politicize Katrina’

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has penned a letter to President Barack Obama in advance of Obama’s trip to New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

In the letter, Jindal says he’s happy to welcome Obama to Louisiana, but he’s “disappointed” that the Democratic president has made the trip part of what Jindal calls “a tour for (Obama’s) climate change agenda.” Jindal is currently seeking the Republican nomination for president, and has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s policies and positions.

“I would ask you to respect this important time of remembrance by not inserting the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism,” Jindal writes. “A lecture on climate change would do nothing to improve upon what we are already doing.”

In the two-page letter, Jindal plugs the state’s Coastal Master Plan as a “pragmatic and bipartisan approach to preventing and mitigating the damage of future weather systems.”

“Partisan politics from Washington, DC are unwelcome in Louisiana at the best of times,” he writes. “This week it would be met with nothing but derision.”

Obama is slated to travel to New Orleans on Thursday “to meet with residents who have rebuilt their lives over the past 10 years since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina,” per the White House.

“While in the city, the President will deliver remarks on the region’s rebirth and what’s possible when citizens, city and corporate leaders all work together to lift up their communities and build back in ways that make them more innovative and positioned for economic growth,” a news advisory states. It doesn’t mention climate change, though Obama has plugged his newly-unveiled climate change plan during recent appearances.

Obama’s New Orleans speech will be streamed live at

Read Jindal’s full letter here (PDF).