Politics 09.24.2008

Cravins gets advice from Carville and more CRAVINS GETS ADVICE FROM JAMES CARVILLE

On Friday, Sept. 12, state Sen. Don Cravins Jr. went to New Orleans for a special lunch meeting with one of the Democratic Party’s most famed political advisers. Known as the “Ragin’ Cajun” for his blunt demeanor and south Louisiana roots, James Carville, political adviser to former President Bill Clinton, recently moved back to Louisiana from D.C. and has reached out to some of the state’s Democratic congressional candidates. Richard Carbo, Cravins’ campaign communications director who previously worked with former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, set up the meeting to get Carville’s advice on campaign strategy.

Cravins, who is running to unseat District 7 U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, says Carville was largely complimentary of his campaign. “He knew about our race. He thought we were strong on the issues. He understood my plight as a southern Democrat,” adds Cravins, who has been running ads touting his pro-life, pro-gun positions. If schedules work out, Carville may appear at a Cravins rally closer to the election.

Dale Sittig of Eunice is stepping down from the Public Service Commission after being named executive director of the Louisiana Offshore Terminal Authority. He will be overseeing the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a deepwater oil terminal off the coast of Port Fourchon that receives about 13 percent of the nation’s foreign oil. Sitting, a former state rep, has served on the PSC since 1995.

Gov. Bobby Jindal tapped Pat Manuel, also of Eunice, as Sittig’s interim replacement on the PSC. Manuel is the president and owner of Manco Vegetation Management and a member of the board of directors at Tri-Parish Bank. Manuel will serve until a special election can be called. He will not be a candidate in the special election.

Last week, Lafayette City-Parish Council Chairman Don Bertrand sent a letter to council clerk Norma Dugas calling for a special meeting to be held Oct. 1 for the sole purpose of appointing the council’s newest member. The council will be appointing an interim member to fill the vacancy created by outgoing District 6 Councilman Bruce Conque, who is stepping down to take a new full-time job with the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

The council has already solicited applicants for the District 6 seat and had planned to make the appointment on Oct. 7 at the start of its regularly scheduled meeting. The appointee was then to take his or her seat with the council for the remainder of the meeting. Bertrand says the council decided to move up the appointment to give the new member adequate time to begin voting on issues at the Oct. 7 meeting. “There’s a couple reasons for that,” Bertrand says. “One is just general fairness so that whoever the appointee is they’ve got some time. We definitely want to make sure that District 6 has representation at the meeting on the 7th. This will give the person a whole week to look over the meeting agenda and information packet and kind of get their bearings before they step in.”

The council is scheduled to interview all applicants for the District 6 seat Thursday, Sept. 25, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The 30-minute interviews will all be held in executive session unless the interviewee requests to make it public. Six residents have submitted applications for the District 6 council seat. They are: 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, Tsunami owner Michele Ezell, and local attorney and chairman of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee John Bernhardt. Whomever the council appoints 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. The interim appointee will not be allowed to run for the seat next spring, according to the city-parish charter.


State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere sent out an e-mail blast last week to supporters proclaiming, “It’s an exciting time to be a Republican in Louisiana.” Villere cites recent poll numbers from late August, prior to the Republican National Convention, which show Republican presidential candidate John McCain enjoying the support of 58 percent of likely voters surveyed. The same poll shows 66 percent of Louisianans think the state is on the right track. “We know of no other place where the citizens are this optimistic about the direction of their state at present,” Villere writes. The survey also shows Jindal’s favorable image rating at 78 percent, which Villere notes, “is now one of the highest of any sitting governor in the country, perhaps the very highest.” It’s worth noting that the survey was done prior to the rave reviews Jindal received for his handling of hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The survey results come from OnMessage Inc., which conducted telephone interviews Aug. 27 and 28 of 500 likely general election voters stratified by parish to reflect historic voter trends. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.