GOP duo trying to purify party

KENNEDY, LANDRY ON MISSION — U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, left, and state Attorney General Jeff Landry are trying to reshape the Louisiana Senate to meet their no-compromising idea of what politics is all about.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and state Attorney General Jeff Landry have appointed themselves as saviors of the Louisiana Republican Party. No one is safe, including members of their own party, unless they conform to the most conservative and uncompromising political principles.

Like U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham of Alto and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, the senator and AG will do and say whatever they think it takes to try and defeat Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. Abraham and Rispone are the leading Republican candidates in the race.

The political action committee that Kennedy and Landry are using to finance their attacks is the Louisiana Committee for a Conservative Majority. Former GOP U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Metairie started what was formerly called the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority.

The defeat of Edwards is their primary goal, but the two officials also want to create a state Senate that mirrors the Louisiana House. Save us all if they succeed. The Senate for nearly four years brought sanity to the lawmaking process when it had so often gone awry in the House.

One of the best examples of that at the last legislative session was the refusal of the House to include an extra $39 million in the MFP formula that funds K-12 public education. Annual increases in the formula hadn’t been made in a decade.

The Senate included the extra funds in the MFP and sent it back to the House. Senate debate on the issue was extremely heartwarming for those in education who had been neglected for so long.

Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said, “Moving this across the hall (to the House), it sends a message.” Other senators echoed similar sentiments while praising the teaching profession that got its first pay increase in years.

Some of the most moving comments came from Sen. Ryan Gatti, RBossier City. He visited every school in the four parishes he represents after he was first elected. Gatti said he got a big hug from his former fourth grade teacher during those visits that told him, “You turned out much better than I thought you would.”

Gatti said the work of teachers can be measured and it is how children are moved out of the poverty ranks.

Unfortunately, Gatti is the only Republican legislator Kennedy and Landry are targeting in the Oct. 12 election. Gatti happens to be friendly with Gov. Edwards, who was among his law school classmates. The PAC has endorsed Gatti’s Republican opponent.

Landry said, “Sen. Gatti seems to have proven time and time again to choose the governor’s wishes over the Republican Party’s platform.”

In defense of his Republican credentials, Gatti said he is anti-abortion and a pro-gun lawmaker and voted against the 0.45 percent state sales tax increase backed by Edwards that the Legislature approved in 2018.

“I’m going to continue to fight for the people of Bossier,” Gatti said. “I’m not going to tolerate bullying , but especially political bullying. I think it’s shameful I’m being attacked for being bipartisan.”

Three cheers for Gatti for standing up for his principles and refusing to bow down to unwarranted attacks from Kennedy and Landry. The voters of Gatti’s district should let the GOP duo know they won’t have someone else tell them how they are supposed to cast their ballots.

Landry has used the power of the attorney general’s office to challenge Edwards at every opportunity over the last four years. So it came as no surprise that he would use a letter to this newspaper to launch a last-minute attack against the governor.

If you believe Landry, the hardworking people in Louisiana are leaving in droves to work in Texas. Some citizens may be moving to Texas, but Landry has produced no statistics to prove another of his wild, unfounded allegations.

The AG talks about the gross domestic product (GDP) and the unemployment rate causing an economic decline in Louisiana. The truth is the GDP is at an all-time high and the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in a decade.

“The governor and his allies seem to think these jobs will stay in Louisiana no matter how much they come under assault from tax-and-spend liberals,” Landry said.

Once again, for the umpteenth time, GOP spokesmen are ignoring the fact that half or more of the Republicans legislators in the House and Senate voted for taxes. The GOP is in control of both chambers and nothing happens without their participation and approval.

Both Kennedy and Landry were considered potential gubernatorial candidates just over a year ago, but they eventually decided not to run. Had Kennedy run and lost, he would have still been a U.S. senator. However, Landry would have had to give up his job as attorney general since that election is held at the same time as the one for governor.

Kennedy and Landry wouldn’t say why they weren’t running, but seasoned political observers believe it was because they didn’t think they could defeat Edwards. Not running may be the smartest move they have made since then.

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U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and state Attorney General Jeff Landry have appointed themselves as saviors of the Louisiana Republican Party. No one is safe, including members of their own party, unless they conform to the most conservative and uncompromising political principles.

Louisiana citizens need to think about one question when voting in this year’s statewide elections: Is the state better off today than it was when Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and members of a new Legislature took office on Jan. 11, 2016?