‘LaPolitics’: Race for attorney general gearing up

Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill has signed off on a campaign committee for a potential run for attorney general. The committee was created a few weeks ago with E. John Litchfield of Metairie signing as chairperson and Thomas A. Barfield Jr. of Baton Rouge listed as treasurer. The move jump-starts the 2023 race for attorney general and heightens speculation that Murrill’s boss, Attorney General Jeff Landry, will indeed be a candidate for governor. The next question is whether Murrill will take a leave of absence from her job as one of the Department of Justice’s top attorneys. Department policy calls for employees to take leave “prior … to becoming a candidate.” More than likely, that means qualifying for Murrill. When asked, department spokesperson Cory Dennis said, “We have reviewed your request and our office policy. There are no LADOJ employees in violation of our Political Activity Policy.” Also making moves is District Attorney John Belton of Ruston, who has no party affiliation. He has already been endorsed by Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams and held several fundraisers this past summer that were hosted by District Attorneys Charles Riddle, Phillip Terrell, Reed Walters, Joel Chaisson and Schuyler Marvin. House and Governmental Affairs Chairman John Stefanski is said to be interested in the race as well, but redistricting will keep him busy over the next few months. With both Murrill and Belton becoming more aggressive, though, Stefanski won’t be able to stay quiet for much longer. Others, including Rep. Larry Frieman and House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee, have been mentioned as possible candidates. But so far they haven’t created the same kind of footprints in this developing race as Belton, Murrill and Stefanski.

Fundraising spike: Between now and the end of the calendar year there are 19 fundraisers scheduled benefiting 38 different state legislators. That’s one heck of an end-of-the-year rush, and check-writers are feeling the crunch. Lawmakers are trying to pad their campaign accounts before annual reports are due early next year. But they’re also trying to make up for lost time—as we all know, the coronavirus upended fundraising activities this year and last.

Looking ahead: The House Health and Welfare Committee has scheduled a meeting for Monday at 11 a.m. in the Capitol’s Room 5 for “consideration of a proposed one-year extension of the contract for Medicaid fiscal intermediary services between the Louisiana Department of Health and Gainwell Technologies LLC.”

They said it: “I don’t think the next governor’s going to be able to walk this back, even if they’re not thinking like I am.”—Gov. John Bel Edwards, on Louisiana’s commitment to climate change, during the COP26 United Nations conference in Scotland.

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