‘LaPolitics:’ Race still underway for big House gavel

    In recent internal House elections, at least, the job of speaker has been filled by a few unlikely contenders, or rather the guy no one saw coming. That’s why the decision by Rep. Johnny Berthelot of Gonzales, a quiet and unassuming maybe-candidate for speaker, to not run for re-election helps solidify the developing field perhaps a little better than when the summer started.

    To be certain, House Natural Resources Chairman Stuart Bishop of Lafayette continues to raise money aggressively heading into the peak of election season. The chairman held a fundraiser in Lafayette Wednesday evening that was attended by roughly 250 people, including a few government relations pros who made the drive over from Baton Rouge.

    Sources close to Bishop’s bid say more than $100,000 was for his re-election campaign, but the event served as a venue for the chairman to discuss his real goals. “There was some heavy speaker campaigning in his message,” said one attendee. “And there were quite a few House members there to support him.”

    Rep. Sherman Mack of Albany is said to be making some inroads in his quest for the big gavel. A handful of prominent business leaders have taken an interest in his candidacy and some of those boosters are beginning to meet with lawmakers on Mack’s behalf.

    The real factor to watch for is when the leading candidates and their backers start merging with the interests and intentions of the gubernatorial candidates, which may already be happening at least on some level.

    Also said to be looking at the top post are Reps. Lance Harris, Alan Seabaugh, Barry Ivey and a host of others.

    Props for criminal justice reforms: (from Governing): “Louisiana continued to see better-than-predicted results from the second year of its comprehensive criminal justice reforms, recording $17.8 million in savings from a further drop in the state’s prison population from July 1, 2018, to June 30 of this year.”

    Reminder: On Aug. 1, a large portion of the policymaking yield from the recent regular session will become law, courtesy of 254 bills that were endorsed by the House, Senate and governor. 

    They said it: “We’re breaking new ground here. I’ve heard of Blue Dog Democrats, but you’re an endangered species. You’re a dinosaur.”—Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” to Gov. John Bel Edwards, in The Town Talk

    “It’s a young man’s game. If they gave me enough money to leave, I would.”—Don Beaulieu, who lives near the Rigolets, on dealing with coastal challenges, in Christian Science Monitor.    

    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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