Alford: What’s next for John Kennedy, LABI and campaign finance? 

state legislators legislative
(Collin Richie)

What’s next for John Kennedy?

After capturing a few news cycles this year and last for thinking about and then not running for governor, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is taking on a more public approach to the fall’s statewide elections and endorsing candidates in down-ballot races. 

Kennedy and his new affiliated group, Common Sense for America PAC, will stake out positions in the contest for attorney general, two district judgeships and more than a dozen legislative seats. The PAC is raising money to “fight the radical left.”

There will be enough spending in these races by the PAC to “tip the scales,” organizers say, and the senator could get further involved in other elections, if necessary.

Most notably, Kennedy is backing Solicitor General Liz Murrill and has recorded a spot for her campaign for attorney general. The senator is also scheduled to be a special guest at Murrill’s upcoming fundraiser in New Orleans with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. 

The PAC will be supporting the district judgeship bids of Casey Allen and state Rep. Larry Frieman. Kennedy is also backing more than a dozen legislative candidates. 

The PAC is being run by Baton Rouge consultant Mike Wong and will eventually play in elections in other states.

What’s next for LABI?

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry will unveil its new “LA23” master plan this Thursday to offer policymakers a blueprint to make the state an “economic leader in the South by 2030.”

Thursday’s event will arguably be the highest-profile event since the surprise resignation of former president Stephen Waguespack, who is now a candidate for governor.

The “LA23” plan will see LABI weighing in on policy topics it has rarely touched, like quality of life and crime—although the plan will offer a wide range of issues, from K-12 education to taxes. 

Organizers have been careful to note the plan won’t be a wish list, but rather a road map. Still, there will be opportunities right away for lawmakers and others, like members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, to propose policies based on the research. 

Throughout most of this year, LABI hosted regional listening sessions across the state to share current research, key concepts and solicit input from businesses and citizens. 

To assist in the process, LABI hired Ted Abernathy, managing partner of Economic Leadership LLC, as lead project consultant; Beverly Haydel, founder of Sequitur Consulting, as project director; and CMA Strategies founding partner Pat McFerron to assist with data collection.

As for Waguespack’s replacement, a spokesperson for LABI offered no reply when asked for an updated timeline for making and announcing the new hire. But there are expectations that word could surface by the end of the month.  

What’s next in campaign finance?

Candidates’ loans across all ballots are so far outpacing the numbers that were reported during the last election cycle that hosted an open race for governor.

According to the Ethics Administration, candidates in Louisiana loaned themselves $4 million from January through June, based on campaign finance reports filed by Sept. 1.

That’s slightly higher than the $3 million that candidates gifted themselves during the same timeframe when we last had an open race for governor, in 2015. But the tally doesn’t trump the $8.5 million that candidates cut checks for from January through June in 2019, during the last statewide election cycle.

That $8.5 million figure, however, was largely subsidized by the failed gubernatorial bid of businessman Eddie Rispone, who had invested $5 million of his own money by the time June 2019 came to a close. 

Here’s a look at the top loaners from Jan. 1 through Sept. 1, focusing solely on those who gave their campaigns $75,000:

  • Hunter Lundy, candidate for governor: $1.7 million.
  • Insurance Commissioner-elect Tim Temple: $950,000.
  • Former Congressman John Fleming, candidate for treasurer: $450,000.
  • Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis, candidate for secretary of state: $300,000.
  • State Rep. Scott McKnight, candidate for treasurer: $225,000.
  • St. Tammany Coroner Charles Preston, who chose not to seek reelection: $100,000.
  • Diedre Pierce Kelly, a judicial candidate in Orleans Parish who ran earlier in the year: $81,049.
  • Marty Maley, candidate for attorney general: $78,920.
  • Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer, who was unopposed for the fall ballot: $78,000.
  • Jefferson Parish Council member Dominick Impastato, who is aiming for an at-large seat: $77,458.
  • State Rep. Jonathan Goudeau, who is seeking reelection: $75,000. 

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at Follow him on Twitter, or Facebook. He can be reached at