During the Washington Mardi Gras festivities, Shaw Group Chairman Jim Bernhard is making the rounds of the Democratic committees and PACs to gauge the level of support he could expect if he challenges Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter. A Democratic source says Bernhard is not ready to announce, but he is doing everything a prudent Senate hopeful should in order to lay the groundwork for a challenge. Bernhard is expected to be able to self-fund part of his campaign, but he can probably count on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to invest strongly in an offensive against Vitter.
—Republican state Senate candidate Laurinda Calongne has raised the issue of Jindal administration spending practices that she calls “wasteful.” Her recent campaign e-mail cited an increase of 4,200 state employees since Gov. Bobby Jindal took office, despite two hiring freezes. “This is no disrespect to our governor, and this is not directly related to him,” she says, “But it is about us as a state. We’ve got to get spending under control.” That’s not how campaign rival Lee Domingue took it. In an e-mail to supporters, he writes, “As you may have heard, our opponent recently attacked Governor Bobby Jindal. … Lee is proud to stand with Bobby as he brings Louisiana the change we need. Lee needs your help today to make sure these attacks do not succeed. Please send your $10, $25, $50 or $100 contribution today.” The South Baton Rouge election to fill U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy’s old seat is March 7. Attorney Dan Claitor is also running. All are Republicans.
—Former Congressman Clyde Holloway told LaPolitics he will qualify to run in the special election for the Public Service Commission this spring in southwest Louisiana. That would split the Republican field between Holloway and former Rep. Gil Pinac of Crowley, who recently joined the GOP. The lone Democrat running so far is Sen. Joe McPherson. Not running is Republican Bob Dewey of Lake Charles, an aide to U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany. Though he earlier eyed the race, Dewey said he is supporting Holloway. Qualifying is Feb. 11-13 for the April 4 election.
(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com.)