Aug 132015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It’s no secret to political insiders that State Treasurer John Kennedy has his eyes set on David Vitter’s U.S. Senate seat if Vitter is elected governor. Vitter would be in a unique position to recommend his successor and could easily select Louisiana’s popular Republican State Treasurer. Kennedy is now running a television commercial that depicts himself as a statesman worthy of voters’ support. Kennedy is also starting to be a stand-in for Vitter, defending the U.S. Senator on several tough issues. We should all expect more of that coziness as the campaign continues.

No one can doubt that John Georges is a solid businessman and entrepreneur. He controls a billion-dollar empire that includes real estate, publishing, gaming, hospitality, and wholesale grocer servicing convenience stores. He knows how to make and manage money well and is even turning a profit at The Advocate in an era when daily newspapers are declining. He loves public service and can relate to the little man. Georges, a Democrat, also knows how business leaders think and clearly speaks their language.

John Georges as State Treasurer would be a valuable asset for Louisiana. To the best of our knowledge, Georges has only been talked about as a gubernatorial candidate. But as State Treasurer and Chair of the State Bond Commission, he would play a leadership role in economic development, education, housing and many other areas. He would be in the catbird seat to influence important legislation and examine the state’s budget with a fine-tooth comb.

Georges is the kind of guy who rarely sleeps because he is always thinking about his next project. Though he probably hasn’t polled the State Treasurer’s race, we think voters who appreciate Georges’ leadership with The Advocate would flock to him. Georges could easily end up being the only state-wide elected Democrat.

WILL JOHN YOUNG STAY IN LT GOVERNOR’S RACE?

Rumors are circulating that Parish President John Young is re-evaluating his bid for Lt. Governor. Convention wisdom now has it that Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, a Democrat, is destined for the runoff. Young, who has approximately $2 Million on hand, is competing against former Plaquemine Parish President Billy Nungesser for the other runoff slot. Nungesser has moved his efforts to Lafayette to try and capture the Cajun vote. The pair are battling for support in North Louisiana.

[Editor’s note: We received the following statement from the John Young campaign this afternoon: “John Young confirms he is 100 percent running for Lt. Governor on Oct. 24.”]

If Young jumped into the Parish President race, the two announced candidates — Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni and JP Councilman Elton Lagasse — would have tough decisions to make. Yenni and Lagasse have been quietly slugging it out and racking up endorsements. It appears that Chris Roberts and Cynthia Lee-Sheng will both be unopposed for the two Council-At-Large seats. A heated battle is underway to fill Lee-Cheng’s district seat.

BADON FOR SCHOOL BOARD?

Term limited State Representative Austin Badon is said to be seriously considering the open seat on the Orleans Parish School Board vacated by Ira Thomas. Interim school board member John A. Brown Sr. has also announced he will seek the permanent position. Badon, a personable and effective leader, has been seeking another elected seat to land in for several years. Brown is a long-time education official who is making his first run for office. Keith Barney, a second generation educator and president of the Better Choice Foundation, has also announced he will run for the seat. Barney is currently the SPED/ELA teacher at Arthur Ashe Charter School.

THE RETURN OF JUAN LAFONTA?

Former State Representative Juan LaFonta, who is said to be considering the race to replace term-limited State Senator Ed Murray, has begun a flight of television commercials promoting his law firm. Such ads falls outside the campaign finance laws. Lafonta probably placed the buy to gauge his favorability in advance of making a final decision to enter the race.

If Lafonta runs, he will face newcomer Eric Caulfield and State Representative Wesley Bishop who has already lined up endorsements from a plethora of elected officials. Bishop has Murray’s support along with Clerk of Court Dale Atkins.

In the race for Austin Badon’s state house seat, announced candidate Jason Hughes is being challenged by grassroots community activist Willie Jones. Hughes is part of the young African-American leadership moving up in New Orleans. Jones is an older scrappy street fighter who has put together $40,000 for the race and will try to chew Hughes up. Look for an unannounced third candidate, probably a female, to build a wedge between the two men. If former legislator and councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis decided to make the race, the seat could be hers once again.

Jimmy Harris, special projects director for Congressman Cedric Richmond, will roll out his campaign tomorrow night for the House seat vacated by Wesley Bishop. Already signed on with Harris are his boss Congressman Cedric Richmond, Councilman Jared Brossett, Kenner Councilman Mark Spears, Constable Ed Shorty and Clerk of Court Darren Lombard as well as a host of legislators – Helena Moreno, J.P. Morrell, Neil Abramson, Cameron Henry, Kirk Talbot, Karen Carter-Peterson, Katrina Jackson, Walt Leger and Ted James.

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several television programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

  • UptownMessenger

    Just in the interest of full disclosure: Our news staff sometimes collaborates with that of the New Orleans Advocate.

    Katz and Columbus, however, are not working with John Georges. This opinion column is, as usual, their own ruminations about the world of Louisiana politics that they are so deeply immersed in.