Some folks are still sitting around trying to figure out how Gov. John Bel Edwards won a second term and shut down a challenge from Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone. Others are still wondering why the GOP secured a supermajority in the Senate but not in the House.
Then there are those who either scratch out a living, make money from or spend money on Louisiana politics. Lobbyists, consultants, elected officials and the like are a few steps ahead and looking as far down the line as possible.
Here are nine Baton Rouge-based factors they’re sweating that perhaps you should sweat as well…
1.) Who Dat? — Build a chart or make some flashcards or start handing out name tags. Do something. Because when the 72nd Legislature is seated in January, there are going to dozens of new elected faces in the House and Senate.
To be precise, next term will host 64 true rookies (18 in the 39-member Senate and 46 in 105-member House).
2.) House Speaker Election — The following text message was sent to House members last week by Majority Leader Lance Harris of Alexandria: “I wanted to let you know I am running for Speaker of the House. With a conservative majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate, I’m excited to see the changes we can accomplish over the next 4 years. I want to set up a time to meet to discuss my strategic plan and how we can implement these changes. I’ll be contacting you soon to set up a convenient time for us to meet. Thanks a million! Lance”
While that represented the latest move for the House’s big gavel, it’s not the only one. Given how much time his team has put into his bid, plus his sizable war chest, Rep. Stuart Bishop of Lafayette is another top contender to watch.
Others said to be making moves include Reps. Stephen Dwight of Lake Charles, Ray Garofalo of Chalmette, Barry Ivey of Central, Sherman Mack of Denham Springs, Tanner Magee of Houma, Jack McFarland of Jonesboro, Clay Schexnayder of Gonzales and Alan Seabaugh of Shreveport.
3.) Senate President Election — You may have forgotten that the Senate changed its rules recently for future leadership elections. That means January’s nominations for president will transpire by secret ballot.
Most of the chatter has centered on five senators, including Bret Allain of Morgan City, Page Cortez of Lafayette, Sharon Hewitt of Mandeville, Ronnie Johns of Lake Charles and Rick Ward of Grosse Tete.
4.) The New Administration — Will Gov. John Bel Edwards and/or his administration play in the House and Senate leadership elections? Given the headcount on Republicans, and how the House speaker’s race went in 2016, it’ll be interesting to see what strategy emerges.
Will the Edwards Administration be replacing any department secretaries next year? Are any cabinet officials or top staffers looking to make an exit ahead of 2020?
There may be a small handful of changes on the staffing side, based on nothing else but historic turnover. (For more, see the second terms of Mike Foster and Bobby Jindal.)
5.) Chairmanships — There’s no such thing as second place in Louisiana politics, but sometimes there are terrific consolation prizes.
Not everyone running for speaker or president will become speaker or president, nor do they all truly want to be speaker or president. Standing as a candidate is a solid route to a plum position, like leading Appropriations or Finance.
The administration certainly knows it will get little to no help out of the House, which will be aggressively conservative next term.
6.) The Term’s Tone — Speaking to the AP, political scientist Dr. Albert Samuels said, “Gov. (John Bel) Edwards will face probably the most conservative legislature in 100 years.”
We all thought the current term got nasty. This upcoming four-year stint could be worse, and we’ll likely see it first in January’s leadership races.
7.) Redistricting — State legislators will be charged with personally redrawing Louisiana’s election lines in 2021. What could go wrong?
8.) JBE 3.0 — Make no mistake about it: Gov. John Bel Edwards is a Democratic superstar. He also showed us this cycle that he may be one of the best debaters among Louisiana’s governors, so there’s no stage too big or too small he can’t handle.
Thing is, national Democrats are about to start knocking on the door of the man who campaigned as the anti-Bobby Jindal.
Will Edwards cut his term short to run for the U.S. Senate? Boosters don’t see it, but you never know. Either way, Edwards continues to a rising national star in the Democrat Party, and his stock is on the uptick.
9.) Legacy Building — Unless Gov. John Bel Edwards pulls a John McKeithen and convinces voters to add a term on for him, he will be out of office come January 2024. So we can probably expect him to swing big this term on issues near and dear to him, based on nothing else but recent second terms. (For more, see the second terms of Mike Foster and Bobby Jindal.)
Will that mean a gutsy move toward tax reform? Another look at constitutional law? We’ll know sooner than later, and many of us can’t wait to learn what’s in store.
Jeremy Alford can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.