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‘LaPolitics’: Lane Grigsby forms convention coalition, more possible Secretary of State candidates emerge

Baton Rouge businessman and Republican donor Lane Grigsby is convening a group of “heavy hitters” to tackle a long-range strategy for a constitutional convention. Operating under the name Convention Coalition 2020, the group’s mission is said to be in the early stages. Those involved include former U.S. Sen. David Vitter, consultant Kyle Ruckert, Gordon Reese of Innovative Advertising and two former figureheads from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Dan Juneau and Ginger Sawyer. Reese says Grigsby has a multiyear vision stretching beyond this year and the next. “Lane is extremely enthusiastic about this effort and he’s very engaged,” says Reese. “He thinks the system is broken and antiquated. It’s locked up and nothing is getting done. He’s doing this to move Louisiana forward.” The coalition is closely monitoring several bills in the ongoing regular session and more details—as in other partners and a policy path forward—are expected soon.

—If you want to know who may run next year for secretary of state—the incumbent, Tom Schedler, bowed out after being targeted in a sexual harassment lawsuit—look no further than the Louisiana Legislature. Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, is among the latest contenders flirting with the contest. A well-known pastor in the Red Stick region, Edmonds says he’s being encouraged to run for the office next year. As for making a decision, Edmonds says, “It’s hard to make up your mind sometimes.” Rep. Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs, is another House member watching the field take shape and seriously considering an entry. An architect, Simon was formerly chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee. He also has a compelling personal story: Simon legislates and lives much of his life from a wheelchair. While working as an elevator repairman in 1995, a drilling rig used to create holes for hydraulic elevator shafts suddenly broke and fell on Simon, crushing his vertebrae and severing his spinal cord, rendering him a paraplegic. Married with five children at the time, Simon coupled his recovery with a college degree and, eventually, a career in politics. Further up the leadership chain, House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, says he’s being encouraged to run too. “It’s not necessarily something that I’m not interested in, but it just wasn’t on the radar until the last couple of weeks,” Barras says. “I’m not ruling it out.” Others considered to be likely candidates include Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Mandeville; Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield; Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner; Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe; and LSU Board of Supervisors Member Mary Leach Werner, a Democrat.

They said it: “Y’all are like your own country anyway.” —Rep. Major Thibaut, D-New Roads, after being asked by a New Orleans legislator to amend a bill in a way that was New Orleans-specific

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com

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