The year that was and still is 2018 (depending on when you read this column) offered more than a few valuable lessons for working in or around politics in Louisiana.
While there are certainly more takeaways to glean from the past 12 months,
I’ve selected eight worthy of your year-end consideration. With mind given to events and happenings that help shed light on what’s ahead in 2019, these items wrap up the year in hardball politics — nothing more, nothing less …
1.) NO IN BETWEEN. Change can happen suddenly (like the resignation of former Secretary of State Tom Schedler) or not at all (such as the Louisiana Legislature). So, if you’re looking for change in 2019, check the couch cushions, because political alterations are either coming down hard or not at all next year.
2.) I WON, I QUIT. The most desirable political post in the Bayou State to be elected to, then almost immediately relinquish is a seat in the House of Representatives. (Turnover has reached 21 percent.) Will it continue into the next term? And, more importantly, will it influence ongoing candidate recruiting efforts around the state?
3.) PIC-A-SIDE. Nothing in the realm of the Legislature is safe from politicalization. (The REC, just this month, served as LaPolitics’ “Big Picture Story of 2018.”) This was the term where party politics kicked open a door at the Capitol that will be difficult to shut. Next term we’ll see this plant of partisanship in full bloom.
4.) THIS IS OFF THE RECORD. You can goose and gig many of our state’s reporters some of the time, even in order to drag out your own timeline in The Neighborhood Times, and a few of them will likely even play along.
All one has to do is put in the time, make timely comments all of time, tinker with time when presented with the opportunity, and, of course, become a master of timing. (See: U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s pre-announced announcement that he would not be making an announcement, which was initially postponed, about running for governor.)
5.) DOORS CLOSE, DOORS OPEN. Eras end, particularly in Louisiana politics, where more people than should be allowed believe they never will. We saw as much this year when Don Briggs (LOGA) and Chris John (LMOGA) moved on from their longtime gigs heading the state’s two most prominent energy lobbies.
Leadership is in place at both operations, but what comes next for the oil and gas associations, whether together or separately, could be among the biggest stories coming out of the lobbying corps in 2019.
6.) A LOSS ISN’T A DEFEAT. As corny as it reads, never give up. During the late 1990s Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin was humping it in “the sticks” of public service on the West Baton Rouge Parish School Board, where accountability meant the parents you saw at church and the grocery store.
Two decades later, following a failed legislative bid, Ardoin has an unexpected elected job. (A job that has to be defended again this fall.)
7.) SINE (I WANNA) DIE. Special sessions are only special when a term isn’t infested with them. (There were three this year, making for 10 regular and special sessions this term.) No one wants to repeat the redundancy of the past three years, but there’s nothing easy about the 2019 fiscal session.
Making things sticky are a teacher pay raise connected to the governor, a surplus that’s in question, uncertain budget negotiations, hints about resurrecting the penny debate and maybe even a hard push on a gas-tax proposal. (Sticky enough for yet another special session, though? We’ll see …)
8.) PAID FOR BY THE COMMITTEE WITH THE CASH. Money isn’t everything, but it helps. (Businessman Eddie Rispone’s vow to inject $5 million into his bid for governor instantly made him a contender to be taken seriously.) Get used to this kind of chatter.
Campaign cash will be a staple media topic in the coming months, especially with expectations that spending records will once again be shattered in the race for governor.
That’s it. Sort of … A lot more happened in 2018, in terms of hardball politics, but it would be either useless or painful to recount them here.
Maybe next year …
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