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Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:09

Next act in McAllister Drama; Landrieu Ads; Louisiana Medicaid Ballot?

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Louisiana capitolHope for McAllister?
    The news is not all bad for Republican 5th District U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, whose recent marital misdeed of kissing a staffer in his Monroe office is getting mixed reactions from his constituents.
    A poll provided Fax-Net by Darrell Glascock of the Glascock Group out of Pineville reveals that 49% of 5th District voters would be willing to vote to re-elect McAllister at this point in time.

    Glascock notes that the poll was conducted among 1,300 demographically accurate constituents and has a margin of error of + or – 1%.
    On the downside, a hypothetical runoff match-up between McAllister and Republican state Sen. Neil Riser shows Riser winning 56-44%.
    But here’s the thing. There are many more acts to come in this political drama. News reports out of Monroe indicate that many constituents are as interested in who took and who revealed the video and why as they are in the actual misdeed itself.
    In other words, was there a conspiracy to set up McAllister to ruin his political career?  Remember that what appeared to be a conspiracy between Riser, Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, who suddenly resigned in mid-term, contributed to Riser’s defeat at the hands of McAllister.
    If such a conspiracy theory surfaces about McAllister being set up by his own party, and such a theory is already out there, his political career could be revived.
    The fuel fanning this conspiracy fire is that the Louisiana Republican Party was not pleased with the fact that McAllister defeated their chosen one in Riser. And McAllister has not walked in lock-step with the philosophy of the governor and the LAGOP on the expansion of Medicaid and Obamacare issues.
    What makes things more interesting is that Jindal and Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere has called for McAllister’s resignation. So far he has ignored them and says he will be back on the job in D.C. after the Easter recess.
    The cries for McAllister to step down flies in the face of the way Jindal and the LAGOP reacted to U.S. Sen. David Vitter when his name was found in 2007 in the black book of a D.C. Madam, who ran a prostitution ring in the Nation’s Capital.
    And that brings up another point. Some political analysts believe if Jindal and the LAGOP wanted Vitter to be elected governor in 2015, they would have taken the stance of letting McAllister’s constituents decide if he should be re-elected like they did with Vitter.
    Should McAllister resign under pressure, it would bring more questions for Vitter with opponents wanting to know why he did not resign when his scandal was revealed.
    In Louisiana, voters seem to be very forgiving of the mistakes of their elected officials, so it may be prudent for McAllister to ride it out and see what happens in the coming months.
    He could make a decision in August whether to run for re-election, based upon how many opponents he has.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black?
    The Republican establishment is in such a tizzy to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu this fall that they have taken to attacking every political ad the Landrieu campaign airs.
    The first Landrieu ad, paid for by the Senate Majority PAC, linked the GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch – a.k.a. the Koch brothers – to Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu’s main opponent.
    The Koch brothers have already spent millions of dollars in Louisiana for ads attacking Landrieu and Obamacare and her fight to reduce flood insurance premiums in the state.
    The National Republican Senatorial Committee didn’t like it, so they petitioned Louisiana television stations to stop running the ad. It didn’t happen. After several general managers for network affiliates studied the documents provided by the Senate Majority PAC, it was determined that there were no legal problems with the information contained in the ad.
    Now the GOP is upset with a new Landrieu ad, which shows her talking about her record on oil and gas and hammering the Obama administration. It also calls her chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee “the most powerful position in the Senate for Louisiana.” How can anyone argue with that statement?
    A secretly funded group called Keep Louisiana Working has launched its own ad calling the Landrieu ad misleading and alleging that it violated Senate rules because it was filmed in a committee room.
    Senate rules prohibit campaigns from using Senate footage in political ads, so the campaign filmed a virtually identical reenactment, which followed all Senate rules. No paid actors were used in the ad and the comments Landrieu makes in the ad were actually said at a committee hearing.
    Nonpartisan analysts view the ad as a powerful one for the Landrieu campaign.  It caught the attention of several media outlets, such as CNN, The Hill newspaper, USA TODAY, Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe, the Washington Times, and the Washington Post.
    The consensus was that it was a really great ad for the Landrieu campaign.
    Not to worry. This race will get more intense and contentious as it moves towards the Nov. 4 election date.

The Money Race    
    Speaking of the U.S. Senate race, the money continues to roll in for the campaigns of Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
    While the official totals have not yet been posted  on the Federal Elections Commission website, both campaigns are touting their fundraising prowess.
    In the most recent fundraising period from January through March (the first quarter of the year), the Landrieu campaign announced it had raised $1.8 million, giving her $7.5 million cash on hand.
    The Cassidy campaign, meanwhile, announced it had raised $1.2 million for the quarter, giving him $5 million in the bank.
    The Fax-Net will report on all of the campaign reports when they are available, hopefully next week.

Will People Have a Say?
    An interesting situation will present itself in the Louisiana Legislature this week. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will considered a bill that would allow the voters to decide if they want to accept expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
    The bill, introduced by state Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, will be an indication if we have a government by the people or by the Legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
    The bill would put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot that would direct Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals to file everything necessary by Jan. 1, 2015, to receive the federal funding to provide Medicaid to residents who are at or below 138% of the federal poverty rate.
    The $16 billion expansion of Medicaid would be paid 100% by the federal government for the first three years and no less than 90% after that. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that  coverage would be provided for about 242,000 Louisianians who have no health insurance now.
    A New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial urging approval of the bill said, “Nothing, it seems, will persuade him (Gov. Jindal) to accept the $16 billion expansion of Medicaid provided under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Taking the money wouldn’t play well with the conservative national political audience the governor is courting.”
    So, the big question is this: Will committee members move the bill forward that would allow the people to have a vote, or will they march in lock-step with Gov. Jindal? And how could any senator vote against letting the people have a say on this issue?
    Republican state Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, a Republican who represents Senate District 38, is a member of the nine-member panel.
    The Fax-Net will let you know how the committee votes, including Buffington.

Lou Gehrig Burnett

Lou Gehrig Burnett is the publisher of Fax-Net, a North-Louisiana newsletter. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.