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 , and he will assume his duties with the state on 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 .
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.
It appears that the resignation was not so sudden, but had been in the works for quite a while.
One state legislator called it a “sneak attack on the people of Louisiana.” There is not that much time for potential candidates to gear up. Qualifying is and the election is .
by Lou Gehrig Burnett, publisher of Fax-Net.