Remember 2018? It was 12 months long, as I recall, with four different seasons that appeared sporadically in some order or another. It was a period of time when the Legislature kept meeting, and then the Saints kept winning, and the surpluses kept coming.
Ringing any bells yet?
Now, look … I know more than a few of you are trying to forget the year that was, what with January jumping out from behind the azalea bushes with a king cake, blank calendar, brain-freezing tax forms and other year-ending/year-beginning merriments.
But 2018 wasn’t all that bad. For LaPolitics—an online political trade publication founded by late author and reporter John Maginnis—it was our 25th year of collecting smart-alec one-liners, unexpected soundbites and predictable-yet-entertaining drivel for a weekly compendium called “They Said It.”
At the conclusion of each regular session—or special session, depending on when the Capitol rests—and at the end of each year, these compendiums are filtered into this space for a sampling of the best that passed the test. These are quotes from lawmakers, members of Congress, lobbyists, department heads, candidates, consultants, pollsters, statewide elected officials, reporters and others who make, spend or waste money on Louisiana politics.
But before we dial back into the previous 12 months of words and sentences from Looziana’s Political Lexicon, let’s put a bow on LaPolitics‘ silver anniversary by giving another quick tip of the hat to Mr. Maginnis, who recorded the very first “They Said It” in the Aug. 27, 1993, inaugural issue of LaPolitics Weekly:
At the ceremony honoring the 100th birthday of Huey Long, Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was 8 when Huey was gunned down, said he regretted never being able to vote for the Kingfish, though, he added, “I can profoundly say that I voted for Russell Long seven times.” He paused and nodded to the retired U.S. senator. “In seven different elections, of course.”
As for who landed the first “They Said It” of 2018, that honor went to the man who bested Edwin Edwards in the final race of his long career—Congressman Garret Graves of Baton Rouge.
Graves secured his TSI appearance during a digital town hall meeting on Facebook Live.
“I think my wife would leave me if I ever retired,” Graves told a facebooker during the opening days of 2018. “Not because of the income. Because I don’t think she could spend that much time with me.”
Then there’s the voice that scored the final “They Said It” of 2018. That distinction went to the distinguished gentleman who also appeared in more “They Said It” compendiums last year than any other politico.
“If everybody will take their meds and negotiate in good faith,” U.S. Sen. John Kennedy said of the limited government shutdown, on WAFB-TV for broadcast on the final day of 2018, “we can get this worked out.”
In case you’re out of the loop on the junior senator:
- “Looks to me like he’s serious as four heart attacks and a stroke.” (Re: the president’s shutdown position, on CNN)
- “A dangerous person who is properly incarcerated can’t mug your sister.” (Re: criminal justice reform, in The Hill)
- “They must have been smoking some of Willie’s dope.” (Re: Willie Nelson and Taylor Swift supporting Democrats, in The Advocate)
And just out of fairness:
- “He hasn’t done much yet but appear on Fox News.” —Businessman Lane Grigsby in The Advocate
- “Sen. Kennedy is off on an island by himself.” —Gov. John Bel Edwards, via Twitter
- “Look up the definition of ‘petty’ in the dictionary and next to it is a picture of our junior U.S. senator.” —Edwards’ Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Carbo in The News-Star
Speaking of the governor, we learned a lot more about him in 2018 than we anticipated:
- “I just paid off my law school loans myself in the last few months.” —On his “Ask the Governor” radio show.
- “George Jones. He’s the best singer there ever was. Period.” —In The Daily Advertiser.
- “Sometime around 2:15, I get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” —About his usual lunch on WVLA-TV.
The Advocate kicked up some dust with its expose on state lawmakers who transformed into lobbyists, generating some unforgettable quotes, including:
- “There’s a whole flock of them.” —Sen. Conrad Appel
- “If the general public were smart, they would elect a lobbyist as a legislator.” —Former Rep. Nick Gautreaux
- “Former members are like day-old French bread. We go stale in a hurry. —Former House Speaker Jim Tucker
If you were looking for blunt talk in late 2018, you would have found it with Congressman Cedric Richmond of New Orleans, who took an AMA (Ask Me Anything) approach to the annual meeting of the Council for a Better Louisiana:
- “I think the people who like me the least call me the most.” —about general relations in Washington
- “Lil’ Cedric don’t care about that.” —about what it’s like to return home following intense debates about foreign and domestic policy
The final word, to help us all further ring in the New Year, goes to Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones, who addressed the Baton Rouge Press Club in the fall of 2018 on the subject of revenue forecasts. Jones’ thoughts were issue-specific, to be certain, but I think they also apply to the coming 12 months of Louisiana politics.
“I am the eternal optimist, so the outlook is good,” said Jones, the state’s guiding authority on games of chance. “But I’m not going to bet on that.”