Politics 09.17.2008

by Nathan Stubbs

Ezell, Kennedy likely frontrunners for District 6 Council seat and more Ezell, Kennedy likely frontrunners for District 6 Council seat

This week, the Lafayette City-Parish Council is scheduled to begin interviewing applicants to fill the District 6 council seat being vacated by Bruce Conque. Conque announced last month he would be leaving the council for a new job with the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. The council will be appointing an interim replacement for Conque at its Oct. 7 meeting. The appointee will serve through April 4, 2009, when a special election will be held to determine who will fill out the remainder of Conque’s term. Whoever the council appoints to serve in the interim will not be allowed to run for the seat next spring.

The deadline for interested applicants was 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15. As of press time Monday, the council had received seven applications. They include KVOL program director and talk radio host Todd C. Elliott, attorney Judith Kennedy, local sales rep Raymond Doré, retired oilfield executive Lewis Kellog, retired businessman Richard Prevost, and Tsunami owner Michele Ezell. A final application came in Monday from local attorney John Bernhardt, who’s also chairman of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee.

Of the applicants, the frontrunners appear to be Kennedy and Ezell. Kennedy is active with the local bar association and was rumored to have been eyeing a run for state district judge against Phyllis Keaty earlier this year. Ezell has been active locally with both the chamber and Downtown Lafayette Unlimited. Both City-Parish President Joey Durel and Council Chairman Don Bertrand have echoed sentiment that the appointment may be a good opportunity for the all-male council to welcome a female colleague. The council has not had a female member since city and parish government consolidated in 1996, and only three women have attempted to run for council seats. Following Conque’s announcement last month, Durel told The Independent Weekly, “If you get a woman on the council, even for this short period, it might encourage other women to step up and run for office.”

Durel says he will not recommend a specific person for the post.
Cravins ad highlights conservative credentials

State Sen. Don Cravins Jr. has launched his first TV ad in his campaign for Congress. Based on the message, you’d have a hard time knowing that Cravins was the Democratic candidate in the race. Titled “our dad,” the ad features Cravins’ two children, Dominique and Don Cravins III introducing their father, who describes himself as “pro life, pro gun and against higher taxes.” Cravins also touts his support for domestic drilling — an issue that has recently become a rallying cry of Republicans. The Opelousas state senator appears to be making good on his strategy to “out conservative” his opponent, Republican incumbent Charles Boustany, and guard against any ideas Republicans may have of grouping him in with more liberal members of his party. Cravins has said he is a proud Democrat but not afraid to buck his party on some issues. Cravins’ campaign spokesman Richard Carbo says the campaign has made a “robust buy” for the first ad but could not specify what areas of the 7th Congressional District the ad would be running.

Landrieu’s dubious distinction

The nonprofit government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has just released its fourth annual list of “The 20 most corrupt members of Congress,” and Louisiana is well represented. Not surprisingly, indicted New Orleans Congressman William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson returns to the roster. Perhaps more controversially, second term Sen. Mary Landrieu has found herself on the list for the first time. CREW cites Landrieu’s support for a $2 million earmark that went to one of her campaign contributors to implement the Voyager literacy program in D.C. schools. The earmark was the subject of a scathing Washington Post investigation earlier this year, which noted how the reading program was largely untested and how one of the heads of Voyager threw a major fund-raiser for Landrieu around the time the funds were appropriated by Congress. Landrieu has since defended herself with documentation showing that the earmark for Voyager was supported by D.C. school officials and had been in the works several months prior to the fund-raiser.

With CREW’s dubious distinction, Landrieu’s campaign has prepared a fact sheet disputing the charge of corruption. The campaign says Voyager is a worthwhile children’s literacy program supported by many officials including Louisiana’s other senator, David Vitter. Landrieu’s camp also cites a January 2008 article by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call alleging that CREW’s ethics targets are at times at political odds with the organization’s donors, which it does not disclose. Landrieu is up for re-election this year, facing off against Republican John Kennedy in the Nov. 4 election. Kennedy’s campaign has pounced on Landrieu’s inclusion in CREW’s “most corrupt” list. Kennedy spokesman Lenny Alcivar says the list shows that “Washington is broken — and Mary Landrieu helped break it.”