Public Service Commission: the next battleground in La. politics

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

At least two Lafayette Parish state reps will be eyeing Scott Angelle’s seat on the PSC — if he wins his congressional race this fall.

While the Public Service Commission very rarely creates the kind of election drama seen in statewide and legislative races, a few personalities are pointing for other offices, and contested seats may soon be on a ballot heading your way.

The PSC is an independent regulatory agency that oversees public utilities and motor carriers. Each generation has found that a PSC seat can be a steppingstone to higher office, like governor — such was the case for Kathleen Blanco, Jimmie Davis, Huey Long and John McKeithen.

The question now is who might be the next PSC member to move on to greener political pastures.

With a well-defined field for the fall’s U.S. Senate race shaping up, it’s a lingering question for Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta of Metairie, in the PSC’s 1st District.

In a recent interview Skrmetta said he is very close to making a final decision on whether he will become a candidate. He said July should arrive with him leaning one way or another.

If he gets in, Skrmetta’s candidacy will add a new wrinkle to capturing southeast Louisiana for the U.S. Senate contenders.

It’ll also create an interesting situation for the political action committees and individuals who traditionally give money to PSC members — that is, those donors will be getting leaned on heavily.

In addition to having Skremetta’s U.S. Senate bid, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Elm Grove, from the 5th District, is in the same race and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle of Breaux Bridge, from the PSC’s 2nd District, is running in the 3rd Congressional District.

Plus there are two incumbents, Commissioners Lambert Boissiere of New Orleans and Clyde Holloway of Forest Hill, up for re-election this fall. They represent the PSC’s 3rd and 4th districts, respectively.

Holloway may already have a challenger in the 4th District. Community activists and donors are encouraging Mary Werner of Lake Charles to run against him.

Werner is the CEO of Sweet Lake Land and Oil Company and North American Land Company. Werner is also the daughter of Buddy Leach, the former chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party and one-time congressman.

Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette

If Angelle wins in the 3rd Congressional District in the fall, Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, said she may make a go at the PSC’s 2nd District.

“I’m thinking about it,” said Landry.

If the special election is even needed, others seriously looking at the potential contest are Dr. Craig C. Greene of Baton Rouge, an orthopaedic surgeon; former Rep. Joe Harrison of Napoleonville; and Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Joel Boe.

Meanwhile, Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro, has said she is keeping her options open, but focusing more on her House district.