UPDATE: House Clerk Butch Speer has confirmed that Rep. Montoucet has withdrawn from the District 7 runoff.
By Jeremy Alford
Members of the incoming House of Representatives are starting to put the pieces together for their money committees, and that includes chairmanships.
Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, has been re-elected to serve on the budget-drafting Appropriations Committee and will likewise return as chairman.
Sources also tell THE POLITICAL DESK that Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, has been tapped as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which is the legislative panel with lead tax-writing authority.
Robideaux had intended to challenge Rep. Charles Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, for speaker of the House this month, but withdrew from the race in December.
In certain respects, the Ways and Means gavel is a consolation prize; Robideaux met with the administration not long after backing out and expressed interest in the job.
Robideaux replaces Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, who also made an early run for speaker. For his part, Greene had expressed interest in retaining the chairmanship.
Back on the Appropriations Committee, there’s still a bit of drama to get through.
It was announced Monday that Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Jeanerette, had been elected by the House to represent the 3rd Congressional District.
That announcement, however, was a bit too quick on the draw.
Based on the tally sheets obtained by THE POLITICAL DESK, Champagne won by only a single vote, seemingly nudging out two other challengers.
In second place was Rep. Dee Richard of Thibodaux, who has no party affiliation.
But Richard, it appears, will get a second bite at the apple.
That’s because House Rule 6.4 states, “If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast in a congressional district, the Clerk shall conduct a run-off election between the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes.”
As for how Richard might fare in the runoff, it’s notable that he — in partnership with Treasurer John Kennedy — made a name for himself in recent years by pushing cost-cutting measures that were unpopular with the administration.
Moreover, Richard has more than a few vetoes to his name that were personally dealt out by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Another runoff was scheduled for the 7th Congressional District as well, pitting Rep. Brett F. Geymann, R-Lake Charles, who served on Appropriations last term, against Rep. Jack Mountoucet, D-Crowley.
Sources in that race, though, expect that Mountoucet will soon concede to Geymann, although there was still some uncertainty.
Either way, ballots for the 7th District race have already been mailed out and are due back to the House clerk no later than Jan. 18. Ballots for the 3rd District race are also in the mail.
Other members who have already been elected to Appropriations include:
- District 1: Rep. John M. Schroder, Sr., R-Covington
- District 2: Rep. Jared C. Brossett, D-New Orleans
- District 4: Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City
- District 5: Fannin
- District 6: Rep. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs
The Appropriations Committee is composed of 25 members, including 18 appointed by the speaker of the House and seven elected by congressional district.
More information on Ways and Means, as well as the other standing committees in the House, should come out in coming days.
Jindal is schedule to begin meeting with the House’s new chairmen Thursday morning.