Caraway: ‘No way’

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Judge Jay Caraway of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal will not run for the Louisiana Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Jeff Victory.

The political rumor mill had been prominently mentioning Caraway’s name as a potential candidate once Victory decided not to seek re-election, leaving Caddo District Court Judge Scott Crichton as the only candidate in the race.

Caraway told the Fax-Net: “I am not going to do it.  I enjoy my present job on the Court of Appeal, and I plan to stay there.  I wish Scott the best of luck.”  Caraway is serving his second 10-year term.

The Fax-Net broke the story in its July 30 issue  that Victory, who has been the justice from the 2nd District on the seven-member Louisiana Supreme Court for 20 years, would not seek a third term.

While Victory has not publicly announced his retirement, reliable sources close to Victory confirmed that he is hanging up his robe after 33 years of judicial service, having also served on the Caddo District Court and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal.

One other name is being mentioned as a possible candidate – District Court Judge Stephen Beasley of Sabine Parish.  He ran against Victory in 2004 and received 39% of the vote.

But the decision for Beasley will not be an easy one.  He will have to give up his district court seat because all district court judges are up for re-election at the same time as the Louisiana Supreme Court race.

And, he had a tough race when he ran for re-election in 2008, winning another term on the district court by only 80 votes.

Crichton has served on the Caddo District Court  for 23 years.  He, too, is giving up his district court seat to run for the state’s high court.

He has said he did so because no one can run for a judicial seat if he or she is 70 years of age or older. Crichton will be just past 60 when he runs in 2014.  He would not be able to run for the high court, therefore, if he waited another 10 years.

All sitting judges are eligible to run for the Louisiana Supreme Court, but they must reside in the judicial district.  So can district attorneys and assistant district attorneys, and just plain attorneys, if they have practiced law for at least 10 years.

Crichton’s early entry into the race, and the subsequent retirement of Victory, leaves any potential candidate with a lot of ground to make up relative to name recognition and money.

Crichton is receiving strong support from attorneys and political movers and shakers from throughout the judicial district as his campaign moves into high gear.  His fundraisers have been attended by overflow crowds and more are scheduled.

Among registered  voters  in  the  2nd  District,  58%  reside  in  Caddo and Bossier parishes.  It is unlikely any candidate from outside of those two parishes could be competitive against the popular Crichton – and no one  in those two parishes now seem inclined to run.

But there is still a long way to go.  Qualifying for this judicial seat is not until August 20-22, 2014.

 

‘It’s a mean place’

Saying “it’s a mean place and getting worse,” Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander of Quitman, who represents the 5th District, suddenly resigned his seat in Congress last week.

Alexander, who was dean of the Louisiana House delegation, was immediately appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

His resignation from Congress is effective September 26, and he will assume his duties with the state on September 30 at a salary of $130,000 a year.  As a member of Congress, Alexander was paid $174,000.

He replaces David LaCerte, who has served as interim secretary, and who will remain with the department as Alexander’s deputy secretary.

Alexander, 66, has represented the 5th District in  the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003.  He was first elected as a Democrat, defeating the late Lee Fletcher, a Republican, by less than 1,000 votes,

In 2004, Alexander qualified for re-election as a Democrat, but days later, he switched parties and re-qualified as a Republican.  He easily won re-election and never faced a serious challenge after that.

Since a U.S. House seat can only be filled by a special election, if there is more than a year remaining in the term, the governor has called such for October 19.

Already two candidates have announced they will run – state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, and state Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe.

But several others are taking a look at the open seat. Among them are Adam Terry (R), Alexander’s chief-of-staff; Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayor (D); state Rep. Jim Fannin (R) of Jonesboro; state Rep. Marcus Hunter (D) of Monroe; Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy (D); state Sen. Ben Nevers (D) of Bogalusa; former state Rep.  Bryant Hammett (D) of Ferriday; and Mayor Hyram Copeland (D) of Vidalia.

At a news conference, Alexander said that social media, such as Facebook, and non-traditional news outlets, such as blogs, have played significant roles in further dividing people as well as the political parties and has had a negative impact on how Congress operates.

Alexander’s resignation hasn’t been without controversy.  Some politicos, including elected officials who may have had an interest in running for the seat if Alexander did not seek re-election in 2014, are not happy.

They allege that a secret backroom deal was orchestrated by Alexander and Jindal, with both of them providing information to Riser so he could get an early start on his campaign.

 

What’s happening?

  • Jimmie Davis Bridge Upgrades

State Sen. Barrow Peacock and the officials from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) are holding two meetings relative to the upgrading of the Jimmie Davis Bridge.  The dates:

*Thursday, August 15, at 10 a.m. at the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce office in Shreveport.

*Thursday, August 15, at 6 p.m. at Barksdale Baptist Church, 1714 Jimmie Davis Highway, Bossier City.

Peacock says it is important that there is a good turnout to impress DOTD officials and convince them that the bridge over the Red River needs to be improved.

Attendees will hear a status report on the bridge and be able to offer comments.  Issues to be discussed include safety, environmental or community impacts, and future capacity.

  • Fleming Town Hall Meetings

Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden, who represents the 4th Congressional District, has scheduled town hall meetings.  The dates are:

Wednesday, August 14, at 10 a.m. at the Plain Dealing Community Center, 109 S. Cotton Belt Street, Plain Dealing.

  • Vitter Town Hall Meetings

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will host a  town hall meeting on Tuesday, August 20, from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Bossier Parish Community College, 6220 East Texas Street. It will be held in the Performing Arts Theatre, Building C.

 

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.