UPDATE: In a risky but gutsy political move, Speaker Pro Tem Joel Robideaux of Lafayette calls for roll call vote on speaker of the House.
UPDATE: In a risky but gutsy political move, Speaker Pro Tem Joel Robideaux of Lafayette is stating publicly that he opposes the governor's role in choosing the speaker of the House because it violates House Rules and the state constitution. In his statement, Robideaux is calling for a public, on-the-record vote for the most powerful position in the House of Representatives. Should he succeed in taking the measure to a roll call vote, bucking the wishes of the governor, this would be a first in the modern history of the Louisiana House of Representatives (it should be noted that Robideaux himself was elected speaker pro tem in a heated roll call vote). Below is his statement in its entirety:
"The State Constitution calls for the House to select our own leaders. This is a fundamental principle of the Separation of Powers," said Representative Robideaux.
"In the House, Rule 2.3 on the Election of the Speaker clearly states that the duly elected members of the House shall vote for Speaker viva voce, (voice vote) on the first day of the organizational session at the beginning of the new term after new members have been sworn in," Robideaux said.
"There are still twenty-one House races that have not been decided, and more than forty members will not be sworn in until January. For the Governor to try to choose leadership now, when one-fourth of the body is not even elected is disrespectful to these future House members, the Legislative Branch of government and the Constitution of Louisiana," Robideaux continued.
"We understand the desire of the Governor to select and control the legislative leadership. This shadowy, back room way of doing things has been part of the Governor's power since the days of Huey Long, continuing through Governor Edwards to the present day. We believe Louisiana citizens would fare a lot better if the process actually functioned like the Rules and Constitution call for," Robideaux concluded.
Robideaux also expressed concern that the Governor's intervention is highly premature because there is no consensus among current House members in favor of any candidate for Speaker. After the fact, the Governor has embarked on a full-court press, calling members and using his influence to pressure members into supporting his choice.
Robideaux notes that the Speaker candidates who have met with the Governor have compared tick sheets, and it is clear that Representative Kleckley is nowhere near approaching 53 votes, the majority needed to be elected. In fact, Kleckley is likely not even the first choice of the body when comparing the first and second choices of House members.
"I don't know why the Governor is in such a hurry to pressure the House to accept a Speaker candidate" said Robideaux. "We have plenty of time to have an orderly process that includes all the House members, and results in a record vote so that the people of Louisiana can see who their representatives support for leadership," Robideaux continued. "As a result, it would be irresponsible not to press forward to a record vote as called for in the Rules."
Sources tell The Independent that Gov. Bobby Jindal plans to announce that he will endorse Republican Chuck Kleckley of Lake Charles for speaker of the House of Representatives over Lafayette state Rep. Joel Robideaux, whom many House members favor for the post.
Robideaux, the speaker pro tem who switched from independent to Republican in September largely to win the governor's endorsement, declined comment on the matter but said he would be releasing a statement shortly.
We will update this story as soon as Robideaux issues his press release and we hear back from the governor's office.
Jindal confirmed his support of Westwego Republican John Alario for Senate president Monday.
Read more about Robideaux's campaign to become the first speaker to hail from Acadiana in five decades in this April 13 cover story, "Independent's Day?"