GOP group pledges $1.5M for 2019 lege elections

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

The independent expenditure group that helped Republicans overtake the Louisiana Legislature, under the leadership of outgoing U.S. Sen. David Vitter, has been reborn.

More than a dozen of the original board members from the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority have been reenlisted and collectively they have pledged $1.5 million to spend on the 2019 election cycle.

During a dinner party last month at Pigeon & Prince, chef John Besh’s private event venue in New Orleans, Attorney General Jeff Landry made a pitch to put all of the pieces back together again. Landry is taking over for Vitter as the new figurehead for LCRM.

Those who attended said Landry thanked the group for backing his failed 2007 run for the state Senate, when LCRM otherwise made impressive gains in the Legislature. He talked about picking up where Vitter had left off and emphasized how important fundraising would be for the reincarnated LCRM.

By the time Landry finished speaking and dug into his meal, 15 board members were back in the fold, including donor heavyweights like Boysie Bollinger and Joe Canizaro.

The $1.5 million in seed money over the next few years will help fund an all-out assault during the 2019 legislative elections. That will give LCRM a budget comparable to the 2007 and 2011 election cycles, which led to historic victories and the GOP controlling both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.

After skipping a cycle, director Kyle Ruckert is said to be eager to make up for lost time. He has brought back on pollster and consultant John Diez and together they’re supposedly working to add new members and partner organizations as soon as possible.

It’s going to be an aggressive approach, one that has already kicked off with recruitment efforts in key legislative districts.

But the biggest political play on the immediate horizon involves the 2017 fiscal session, which is when Gov. John Bel Edwards will be pushing lawmakers to approve hefty tax changes. Independent expenditures from LCRM are expected to coincide with important votes next year and metrics are being developed for grading and rating incumbent lawmakers on those votes.