Organizers are finalizing the schedule for the Republican Leadership Conference, the meeting of GOP heavy hitters which will be held at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside June 16-18. Roger Villere Jr., head of the Louisiana Republican Party, and Charlie Davis, deputy chairman, are front-loaded on Thursday afternoon, just after former Gov. Mike Huckabee holds a book signing and VIP reception. That evening, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, will speak just before former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the many attendees who's got his eye on the White House in 2012.
The Louisiana delegation will be heaviest on Saturday, with the first four speakers being former Gov. (and now presidential candidate) Buddy Roemer, freshman U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge. Later in the day come U.S. Reps. John Fleming Jr., R-Minden, Rodney Alexander, R-Monroe, and Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette.
Notably absent from this year's roster: former Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao, whose oft-touted bipartisanship and friendship with President Barack Obama made him a somewhat controversial figure at the 2010 gathering. Cao, who was defeated in November 2010 by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, is now touting his conservative bona fides and seems poised to run for Louisiana Secretary of State.
Perhaps unluckiest of all is Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has the misfortune to follow current GOP favorite U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann on Friday afternoon. Last year, Jindal had the job of following then-Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. Palin's possible attendance at this year's event was still undetermined at press time. — Allman