Jul 112019

Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks to supporters during a rally on Monday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

With almost $10 million cash on hand in his campaign account, a jubilant Gov. John Bel Edwards and his wife, Donna Edwards, drew a spirited crowd of donors, consultants and everyday supporters at his Uptown headquarters opening earlier this week.

Retired AFL-CIO leader Peter Babin drove from Slidell to stand with current GNO AFL-CIO President Tiger Hammond and SEIU executive LaTanja Silvester. City Council President Helena Moreno, her chief of staff Andrew Tuozzolo, and Councilman Jay Banks were in that number with Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s close adviser Bob Tucker and staffer Julius Feltus. State Reps. Royce Duplessis, Randall Gaines and Walt Leger III attended. Leger, a $10,000 donor to the governor, gave a rousing introduction and was also praised by Edwards for his accomplishments benefiting the citizens of New Orleans.

Legislative candidates Kea Sherman, Eugene Green, Durrell Laurent, Robert McKnight and Kyle Green stopped by to see and be seen. Former legislative candidate and Edwards donor Kenneth Bordes was joined by Christian and Alexandre Bonin. Political players Brian Egana, Norma Jane Sabiston, and Zach Monroe were also on hand along with Bill Rouselle, who is a consultant to the governor’s campaign. Women’s movement leaders Julie Schwam Harris, Madalyn Schenk, Roberta Brown and others came to show their support.  Several members of the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee were in the crowd, including Louisiana’s National Democratic Committeewoman Deborah Langhoff with husband Alan, Avis Brock, and Charmaine Baker Fox.

The business community was represented by trash mogul Jimmie Woods, Greater New Orleans Foundation executive Tyronne Walker, engineering client service leader Renee Lapeyrolerie, architect Lonnie Hewitt, security company owner Ed Robinson, planner Darrel Saizan, management consultant Dottie Reese, social media maven Kristine Breithaupt, meeting planner Tracy Stewart, tax credit specialist Morris Kahn and digital printer Michelle Gobert, also a donor to the Edwards campaign.

Perhaps the best-connected attendee was trial lawyer Russ Herman of Herman, Herman & Katz. Maury Herman, Steven Lane and Stephen Herman and Russ’ wife Sandra Thompson Herman have together donated $35,000 to Edwards. Other trial lawyers who have also stepped up in a big way are Fred Herman, Adams & Reese, Joe Bruno, Morris Bart, James Dugan, Gladstone Jones, Scott Bickford, Walt Leger Jr., John Cummings, Mickey Landry and Larry Kullman.  Oil heiress Phyllis Taylor and the Crescent River Port Pilots also hit or surpassed the $10,000 mark.

At the other end of the spectrum are hundreds of smaller donors such as Xavier University professor and accomplished poet Ralph Adamo who contributed $5, singer Banu Gibson, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, state Sen. Wesley Bishop, Edgar Chase III, Lucy Burnett, Kelisha Garrett, Ina Davis and candidate Carling Dinkler IV. New Orleans donors who have previously supported Edwards include Robert Boh, Christy Brown, Karl Connor, Laney Chouest, Deborah Elam, Joe Exnicios, Bob Ellis and the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group.

With the latest campaign finance reports soon to be released, the names of many more donors to all the gubernatorial candidates will become public. Look for increased contributions to Republican candidate U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham now that Boysie Bollinger and Joe Canizaro are leading up his fundraising efforts. For political junkies, these reports are always fun late-night reading and a strong precursor to who gets jobs, contracts, appointments or other sweet favors.


Jason Hughes is an important part of a young group of African-American professionals who are making their mark in New Orleans.  A graduate of McDonogh 35 when the public school was a premier training ground for African-American leadaers, Hughes is seeking the house seat being vacated by state Rep. John Bagneris who is running for the state Senate. Supporters are hosting a fundraising for Hughes Tuesday, July 16, in the private dining room of Mandina’s Restaurant, 3800 Canal St.  The suggested minimum contribution is $250.


Though a huge storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, tenacious HD94 candidate Tammy Savioe is still planning to canvass in Lakeview this Saturday morning. Team Savoie is also hosting a Bubbles & BBQ fundraiser Tuesday, July 30 at 7810 Breakwater Drive.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman-at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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