‘LaPolitics’: Open House seats get attention; former Vitter staffer opens Baton Rouge consulting firm

    As the House and Senate inch toward the end their legislative year, there’s one new lawmaker still feeling his way around and two seats that will soon be vacant.

    Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Brusly, who represents portions of East Baton Rouge Parish, was officially sworn into office last week and is now taking votes on behalf of his constituents. Jordan, who is replacing the late Rep. Ronnie Edwards, has not yet been notified of his committee assignments, but he has joined the Capital Region Legislative Caucus, the Democratic Caucus and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

    Elsewhere there are now at least three potential candidates either looking at or being encouraged to run in the soon-to-be-open House District 85, which is being vacated by Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna. Thrown into the mix so far are two attorneys—Jefferson Parish School Board Member Mark Morgan, a Republican, and Gretna City Councilman Joe Marino, who is said to have district-level support ready to go. There’s also Stephen Leonard, a Republican real estate agent who lost to Adams in a previous House race.

    In the neighboring House District 80 in Jefferson Parish, where Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, is stepping down, University of New Orleans professor Polly Thomas has been seen working the Capitol in recent weeks.

    No other names have surfaced. It may have helped that Thomas dropped out of a legislative race last fall to endorse her opponent, Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie. In a brief interview, Appel said he has already endorsed Thomas for the House District 80 seat.

    —Kyle Ruckert, former chief of staff and campaign manager for U.S. Sen. David Vitter, has set up shop in Baton Rouge. He has launched BOLD Strategies for his political consulting and lobbying work. Ruckert is currently working on campaign efforts for Congressman Garret Graves and an organization that is advocating for the policies being pushed by Attorney General Jeff Landry. His client list also includes Morris & Dickson, the American Chemistry Council, Gulf Coast Bank and a new coalition of Louisiana road contractors. In addition to working the State Capitol, Ruckert says he’ll still keep one foot in D.C. to lobby for clients there.

    They said it: “I’m a recovering politician. I’ve got the shakes right now.” —Former Speaker Hunt Downer, addressing the House this week

    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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