‘LaPolitics:’ Yet another speaker candidate surfaces

    The latest name to surface in the developing race for speaker of the state House belongs to Rep. Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles, a second-termer-to-be who sent a letter to supporters last week announcing his bid for the big gavel. 

    Dwight has created LA United PAC for the January internal election that will ask representatives to choose their chamber leaders. 

    “My goal as speaker is to have a united body that wants to work together, strives to compromise, and truly desires to make a difference for the people of Louisiana,” Dwight wrote in his letter. 

    Among those preparing to enter their fifth year of elected work at the Capitol, there’s also a big push from Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, who, like Dwight, would be the first second-term speaker elected since E.L. “Bubba” Henry in the early 1970s.

    Looking toward the class of third-termers, there’s quiet chatter building around a consensus candidacy from Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette. He said last week that he will soon be forming his own leadership PAC.

    As stated in recent reporting, Reps. Stuart Bishop, Sherman Mack, Barry Ivey and Alan Seabaugh are mounting bids as well, and, for now, are all serious contenders.

    If fundraising and money are to be determining factors, then Bishop remains the contender to watch with $100,000 in his PAC and $260,000 in his campaign account—far more than any other announced candidate for House speaker.

    —We may need bigger mailboxes. While larger format direct mail pieces aren’t an operational trend specific to this election cycle, they are yet again unmissable. More candidates seem to be trending toward larger mail pieces. (And by large, think 17 inches by 11 inches when opened.) This cycle, there are a few offerings on the legislative level from Baton Rouge-based candidates Scott McKnight in House District 68 and Carlos Zervigon in House District 98. The Data & Marketing Association, a 100-year-old trade organization for marketers, completed an exhaustive report on response rates at the end of 2017 and found that oversized pieces such as those used by McKnight and Zervigon this cycle increase response rates by 10.4%. Direct mail remains an attractive vehicle for many campaigns, legislative or not, and budgets for such efforts appear to be as strong as ever. Last year political mail revenue was $563 million for the United State Postal Service, which was 31% above expectations. USPS officials estimated every registered voter in the country received about 24 pieces last cycle, or 2.7 billion pieces nationally.

    They said it: “One thing I love about my job: There’s never a recession in Louisiana politics.”—GAMBIT’s Clancy DuBos, on WWL-TV

    “The ghost of Huey Long still walks the state capitol in Baton Rouge in many places, but we finally took it back … And in just a short period of time, you can do that too.”—Rep. Steve Scalise, to the GOP faithful at the Illinois State Fair, in The Herald & Review.

    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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