BobbyWatch: The Fix is In
Is all the talk about Bobby Jindal leading the GOP out of the wilderness just a case of right-wing Republicans gushing over their man? Apparently not, according to The Washington Post's blog, the Fix (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/). Written by Chris Cillizza, the Fix on Nov. 21 ranked the top 10 Republicans to watch between now and 2010 — and Jindal came in at No. 1. Cillizza emphasized that he was not predicting who would win the GOP nomination in 2012, or even who would seek it (Gov. Sarah Palin and former governor-turned-talk show host Mike Huckabee thus did not even make the list). Rather, he wrote, "each of these individuals will have a role to play in the conversation about where the party heads between now and 2010."
Of Jindal, Cillizza wrote: "There is no hotter commodity in the Republican party these days than Jindal. Jindal is the rare candidate who both reformers and establishment types find appealing, and as a 37-year-old Indian American he is — literally and figuratively — the sort of new face the party is pining for." The blogger cautioned, however, that Louisiana is a state "with a complex political scene," which means Jindal could "falter" in the coming months and years. — Clancy DuBos
Legislators Charity to
Benefit Children's Hospital
The first annual Legislators Charity Fund, co-sponsored by 10 New Orleans-area state representatives, will raise money for Children's Hospital at a cocktails-and-dinner event downtown. The lawmakers put up $500 each to underwrite the cost of the "holiday celebration" at Basin Street Station, 501 Basin St., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. next Wednesday (Dec. 10). The event will feature food from top local restaurants and live music. "One hundred percent of the funds received from ticket sales will go to Children's Hospital," says state Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, one of the event's organizers. Other area representatives who are hosting the event include Greg Cromer, R-Slidell; Girod Jackson III, D-Marrero; Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans; Joseph Lopinto III, R-Metairie; Nicholas Lorusso, R-New Orleans; J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans; Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans; John Schroder, R-Covington; and Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge. Tickets are $100 and are available by calling 588-9043. — DuBos
Office Space, D.C. Style
Congressman-elect Bill Cassidy was in Washington, D.C., last week participating in the House's orientation program. Among the first orders of business was figuring out office space. Although Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, toppled Rep. Don Cazayoux, a Democrat from New Roads, in the Sixth Congressional District contest, he isn't guaranteed Cazayoux's office space. Instead, Cassidy had to enter a lottery system with other newly elected freshmen. "He has to compete for the worst office space," Cassidy campaign manager Chris Ingram says with a chuckle. "I think we've got a good chance of winning." Aside from jockeying for cubicles, last week's orientation also offered Cassidy his first taste of power. By the time this item hits print, Cassidy will know his committee assignments and will have cast his first vote for the Republican leadership in the lower chamber. — Jeremy Alford
Big Blue Dog
Members of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition announced last week that U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, who has been a member since 2004, will serve as co-chairman for the group's communications efforts.
"The Blue Dogs have been a constant voice for fiscal responsibility and moderation in Congress, reminding our elected leaders of their duty to the taxpayers of this country," Melancon says. "In the next Congress, I look forward to working with the other Blue Dog co-chairs to strengthen the influence of our coalition and push our leadership and the new administration in a centrist and fiscally responsible direction as we rebuild our economy."
Melancon also worked this year to get Blue Dogs elected in 24 states, donating more than $42,000 to other Democrats in places ranging from Missouri and Minnesota to New York and New Jersey. It's not surprising, then, that Melancon has become heavily involved in the growing battle over the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. He's backing current Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, who is being challenged by Rep. Henry Waxman, a fellow Democrat from California.
According to the D.C. newspaper The Hill, the race is "perceived as Midwestern blue-collar manufacturing states versus California liberals, who strongly support climate regulation." Melancon says Dingell's campaign is an extension of the centrist message he has embraced since first being elected to Congress. "This is about getting people from different parties to talk to each other," Melancon says. "We don't need another mechanism to force one party to act a certain way. This is what the people want and this is what I want." — Alford
Fishing For Money
An additional $40 million in disaster assistance has been secured to help Louisiana's struggling fisheries recover from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The funding has been made available through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. To tap into the funding source, Louisiana must develop a detailed plan outlining how the money will be used. NOAA guidelines state the money must be used to "assess the economic and social effects of the commercial fishery failure, restore the fishery, or prevent a similar failure in the future." The Louisiana Recovery Authority has been charged with developing a plan to spend the money, but LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater says the $40 million is a drop in the proverbial bucket. "This funding is a solid step forward, however we still have a great need of $250 million to assist our fishing industry in recovering from these storms, especially since the industry was still struggling after Katrina and Rita when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike hit," Rainwater says. "While we appreciate that there have been commercial fishing losses throughout the United States, we feel that NOAA has again undervalued Louisiana's needs." Rainwater describes Louisiana's fishing industry as "one of the economic engines of the state" that produces a quarter of the nation's seafood. — Alford