While the Democratic and Republican parties in Louisiana have decided to team up to pursue unlimited fundraising possibilities on the federal level (for more, read Jeremy Alford's latest column), there may also be a shared legislative agenda in the works on the state level for the 2015 session. The executive directors from both parties say there are at least three issues they already agree on and are willing to sit together at the committee table to discuss. The first involves the state's qualifying period, which is usually held in the early fall, around August, and less than three months before the primary. "Practically everywhere else around the country it's held in the spring," says Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. "Pushing it up will give us more time to prepare and will settle the fields sooner. I also think it could help the secretary of state's office, since they would have more time to get the ballots ready and prepare for the elections." Fundraising could be on the menu as well. With a recent court decision clearing the way for the Fund for Louisiana's Future, a super PAC, to collect unlimited donations on the state level, the parties would like to see a law passed that gives the same privilege to their own state-regulated independent expenditure accounts. Lawmakers may also be asked to put the court's super PAC decision into law. "That's something we both agree on," says Jason Dorť, executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party. Additionally, the pair are interested in exploring the limits on when and where campaign signs can be placed in advance of elections. The issue sprouted in Lafayette earlier this year when a long-forgotten local ordinance was discovered allowing signs on private property only within three months of balloting. "It's private property and should be a freedom of speech issue," says Handwerk.
—With former Gov. Edwin Edwards serving as the Democrats' best hope of seizing the 6th Congressional District, attention is turning to whether the state party will get behind the candidate, who was in federal prison just a few years ago. "If he asks for a vote of the [Democratic State Central Committee] then we'll see," says a DSCC source of a possible endorsement. Since he announced for the race, the party seems to have kept Edwards at arm's length. But party officials say that isn't so, pointing to the fact that Edwards has not yet qualified and the field isn't settled. If he makes the runoff, as recent polling predicts, that would present a different situation, they say. "I would like the endorsement, but we need to be fair to the other Democrat in the race," Edwards tells LaPolitics, referring to Richard Lieberman of LaPlace, who has also announced. "If the party gave me some kind of sign, I might ask for it. I do not want to be presumptuous." Kirstin Alvanitakis, the party's communications director, says: "Our executive committee approved a procedure to allow our state central committee to endorse federal candidates via mail-in ballot on our last conference call, so we will likely be endorsing in competitive federal races this fall." For now, Edwards will have to settle for an enviable wave of national media attention. In the past few weeks, Edwards' bid has been covered in rather lengthy profiles by New York magazine, National Journal and The Weekly Standard. In the coming days, he will also be featured in a segment produced by CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
—Many have asked over the past two months about a memorial for LaPolitics founder John Maginnis, who passed away two months ago, or for a way to honor him. In partnership with LSU, LaPolitics is proud to announce the John J. Maginnis Scholarship Fund. It's an innovative approach that offers students, based on need, financial assistance while attending the Manship School of Mass Communications at LSU. Applicants will also be judged on a 725-word essay on Louisiana politics. Recipients, meanwhile, will be afforded a brief internship with LaPolitics when the Legislature is in session. To help secure Maginnis' legacy for future generations, you can donate to the scholarship and learn more here.
They said it: "You will see that snake again." —State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, warning future snake-bite victims after he stepped on a vengeful water moccasin this week and was treated at W-K Bossier, on KTBS-TV.
(Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.)