Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jindal, Tucker, bi-partisanship, and consensus

Welcome to the Jindal era of Louisiana politics where 'bi-partisanship' and consensus are redefined.

Check your dictionaries at the door. Prof Jindal will be making it up as he goes along now. Pupils (and the press) will be expected to take notes and not ask questions.

The latest lesson took place on Tuesday when Jindal announced that Rep. Jim Tucker had his backing to be the next Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Let's go by story filed by The Advocate's Michelle Millholon:
Tucker, a 43-year-old investment banker, would be the first Republican speaker since at least Reconstruction, House clerk Butch Speer said.

In the past, Tucker spearheaded Republican opposition to Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s legislative initiatives, especially her spending plans. Tucker recently resigned as the House GOP caucus leader.

Jindal, a Republican congressman who served for three years on Capitol Hill, said he wants to prevent Washington-style partisanship from taking root in Baton Rouge.

He said Tucker built a “bipartisan coalition” of support to gather the necessary votes for the speaker spot, indicating he can work with Democrats as well as Republicans.

“He understands his previous job is different from his current job,” Jindal said.
Tucker was the tip of the Republican spear pointed, first, at Governor Blanco and, later, at Democratic House candidates across the state. Tucker, through his T-PAC contributed to a list of predominantly Republican candidates for the House — just about all of whom were also helped by the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority.

T PAC campaign finance reports show that all of the Republicans getting money from the PAC in its initial round of support got their checks on the same day — July 25, 2007. Could they have all have been attending the LCRM candidate workshop in Alexandria on that day? Might Tucker have passed out all of his checks to those candidates at that meeting? That would make Tucker an un-named partner in the LCRM, among the most partisan organizations in the state.

But, not to worry. Governor-elect Jindal says Tucker will play a different game now that he'll have real power. Tucker must have under gone a wild decompression session since last week's election in order to have completely shed his partisan skin in so short a time.

T-PAC did back four Democracts who got a grand total of $4,500 ($2,500 of that went to Elbert Lee Guillory in a special election in Opelousas during the spring). He's about as much of a consensus builder at Tom DeLay.

It's easy to see why Jindal would feel comfortable with Tucker. Tucker's PAC got a hefty chunk of its contributions from the same place as Jindal — nursing home operators. One particular funding nexus is a collection of care companies working out of Ridgeland, MS, that contributed heavily to Jindal and, to a lesser extent, Tucker's T Pac. Campaign finance reform will not be on the Jindal/Tucker agenda, it is safe to say.

That said, Jindal's claim that Tucker's ascension is bi-partisan and consensus introduces Louisiana to what Democrats in Lafayette have known for a while. The Republican notion of bi-partisanship is that Republicans vote in lock-step and count on a Democrat or two to cave-in, and — voila! — you have bi-partisanship. Think it's not true? Watch how few times Republicans in the House and Senate break ranks over the next four years.

No doubt Tucker will have the vote of Democrat Elbert Lee Guillory of HD 40, to whom he gave $2,500 in his special election bid in March of this year. And, no doubt there will be other Democrats who abandon the party and its constituents on key issues, such as healthcare in the coming months. These will be Democrats that Louisiana Democratic House Caucus and/or the Louisiana Democratic Party poured in their otherwise precious resources to help elect — foolishly thinking that it didn't matter what the person they supported believed, so long as there was a "D" behind their name.

Add Rep. Karen Carter of New Orleans to the list!

New Orleans blogger Your Right Hand Thief has more on Rep. Carter's move.

The Times Picayune provides
some details as to Rep. Carter's early decision to back Tucker.

Republicans have put ideology front and center (regardless of the posturing by the governor-elect) and Democrats will be force to either stand on principles or hop on the bandwagon. Personally, I think the wagon is going to get worn out by erstwhile Democrats rushing to jump on it.

It was Tucker who declared after the October primary that there were more ways to win control of the House than just having a majority of Republicans elected there. With an able assist from the Democrats, Mr. Tucker has already proven himself correct.

This train hasn't even fired its engines and the ride is already looking pretty shaky. Candor was apparently the first passenger tossed from the coach.

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