New Lt. Governor
Dardenne will appoint a new Lt. Governor who must be approved by a majority of the leges.
In the fall of 2013 there will be a statewide special election to elect a new Lt. Governor. The person appointed as Lt. Governor is not prohibited by law from seeking the post on a permanent basis.
Dardenne a mixed bag
How Dardenne governors will quickly be known by the leadership changes he makes in the Executive and Legislative Branches.
Dardenne ran for Lt. Governor only on a tourism platform. His voting record in the senate is a mixed bag, at best, especially on fiscal matters.
Dardenne has said that he is conservative, but in the Republican administration of Mike Foster, Dardenne voted for over a billion dollars in new taxes. Therefore, he’s clearly not a fiscally conservative.
We assume that there will be a complete staff turnover in the governor’s office. Immediately, we will know if a Dardenne Administration is one of openness and transparency or the same old clandestine operations of the Jindal Administration.
There will need to be many changes at the cabinet level, especially in the heads of education (higher and k-12), healthcare and economic development, unless Dardenne is merely going to maintain the status quo.
Changes will ripple all the way down to boards and commissions where members serve at the pleasure of the governor. Those appointed by Jindal for specific terms will remain unless they are willing to resign.
Lege leadership changes
Most likely Dardenne will make wholesale changes in the House starting with Speaker “Chuckle” Kleckley.
Kleckley offers nothing in the way of leadership and will be easy to replace. Plus, the move will be welcomed by a majority of the leges with whom Kleckley has worn out his welcome.
As a former senator, Dardenne is unlikely to make wholesale changes in the senate.
The senate traditionally functions as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the governor’s office regardless of who is the governor. That happens because it is easier and cheaper for a governor to buy the votes of 20 (senate majority) than 53 (house majority) members.
Despite groans from some Republicans, Dardenne will likely ask Senate President John Alario to switch jerseys, but keep the number 1. Alario has proven that he will “dance with the one who brung him.”
Dardenne will likely replace many of the key committee chairs in the House.
For the most part, the House chairs were selected by Jindal based on obedience rather than competence. Even those with some competence in one field were selected to chair committees in which they had no competence.
Finances and ethics
For example, if one of the House Fiscal Hawks is selected to chair the House Appropriations Committee it will signal a change to fiscal responsibility. If Jim Fannin remains as chair, it will mean the same old fiscal irresponsibility as in the Jindal Administration.
Another key House position to watch will be the chair of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. We will quickly learn if Dardenne has any interest in restoring an enforceable system of ethics laws and transparency in the governor’s office.
The Senate Finance Committee will be the key to knowing Dardenne’s current fiscal philosophy. Regardless of philosophy, if Dardenne has any sense at all, he will replace Jack Donahue as chair with someone who at least has a clue about the state budget.
These are some of the keys to quickly determining in 2013 the direction of our state and who exactly is Jay Dardenne.
We can only hope for positive change and a governor more interested in Louisiana than his own political ambitions.
by C.B. Forgotston