‘LaPolitics:’ New year, new look for lobbying associations

    The last few months have seen a wave of new leaders taking over a handful of the Capitol’s best-known lobbying associations. It has created a different political dynamic in Baton Rouge as we head into 2017 and it’s also a part of a larger changeover that’s somewhat generational.

    Groups that represent car dealers, chemical plant workers, nursing home operators and municipal level officials before the Legislature have seen the most recent changes.

    Joe Donchess retired last month as executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association and has been replaced by Mark Berger. John Gallagher was also hired last month as the new head of the Louisiana Municipal Association.

    Bob Israel completed his final legislative session last year as director of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association and has been replaced by Will Green. Plus, Greg Bowser is the new president of the Louisiana Chemical Association and the Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance, taking the place of Dan Borné.

    The last few years saw other changes at the top at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry with Stephen Waguespack, Andy Dreher stepping back from Energy and Dawn Starns moving into the lead Louisiana role for the National Federation of Independent Business, just to name a few.

    All are entering a new environment that now requires association directors particularly to lean from the front, embrace social media, expand missions and put an added emphasis on publicity. LABI, for example, has seen several new elements under Waguespack, from an annual fly-in to Washington, D.C., and new lawmaker events to more public appearances for staffers and a more robust digital presence.

    They said it: “I smell the food, I look at the fried chicken, I look at the greens, and you just talked about how damn good the gumbo is… tomorrow I’m taking my very first ever colonoscopy, and I can’t eat today.” — Gov. John Bel Edwards, during an event at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, in The Advocate

    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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