As the field of gubernatorial candidates now appears to be complete, Jefferson State Sen. Ken Hollis just completed a swing of the state, conducting successful fundraising events in Alexandria with Mayor Ned Randolph and in Monroe with former U.S. Congressman John Cooksey. The campaign hopes its current efforts -- which include preparations for a media campaign and the introduction of a Hollis for Governor Web site -- will help narrow the Republican field, which right now numbers an astounding seven candidates.
Republicans Look to the Internet
Many members of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee are concerned about the chances of a Republican making the gubernatorial run-off with seven of their candidates currently in the race and only five Democrats. Right now, the Democratic candidates have more money in their campaign funds and have higher name recognition.
An effort, therefore, is being led by Alexandria State Central Committee member Beth Levy to have an informal Republican primary via the Internet and through the mail. The process would involve mailing a ballot to every one of the 639,000 registered Republicans in the state and giving voters an option of responding by mail or over a secure Web site. This would not involve a formal nomination convention or Republican primary, but would lend credibility to the winning candidate.
The proposal is controversial to some because of the uniqueness of the effort, the expense to the state party (more than $300,000) and the effect it might have on several campaigns for governor.
This idea was proposed several weeks ago and likely will be voted on at a June committee meeting, if a special meeting is not called. In 2000, Republican State Central Committee Dewitte Hall of Denham Springs led an effort to institute an Internet vote for the state's Republican presidential primary. Hall did not receive enough support at that time; many are predicting that this proposal will meet a similar fate.
Alliance Names Outstanding Jefferson Leaders
Last week before a large crowd at the Balcony in Metairie, the Jefferson chapter of the Alliance for Good Government held their first-ever banquet to honor outstanding public servants. The chapter named Parish President Tim Coulon as Administrator of the Year, Judge Martha Sassone of the 24th Judicial Court as Judge of the Year, and Sheriff Harry Lee as Law Enforcement Official of the Year. Due to the response to this event, the organization plans to make the awards banquet annual.
Rue Names Jefferson Leaders
Among the many candidates at the Alliance banquet was Kenner attorney and candidate for lieutenant governor Stephen Rue. Rue announced the addition of two "community chairpersons" to his campaign. Rue named Kernan Hand, a CPA and tax and business law attorney, as community chairman of Kenner; Hand is the son of 24th Judicial District Court Judge Skip Hand. In addition, Rue announced that Robert Pearson, a retired administrator of the Jefferson Council for the Aging, will serve as Metairie community chairman.
Rue has started his advertising campaign, initially on the Internet. And at the just-completed state convention of the Louisiana Federation of Republican Women, Rue's official campaign suite offered manicures and pedicures, instead of the usual brochures and finger sandwiches.
More Potential Candidates for Council
With term limits in effect this year, there will be quite a turnover on the Jefferson Parish Council. District members may run for at-large positions, but they will have to vacate their Council seats to do so.
Tim Witmer, executive assistant to Parish President Tim Coulon, is giving serious consideration to running for the District 1 seat currently held by Butch Ward. Attorney and real estate investor Robby Evans, who recently lost in a District 86 state representative run-off to Jim Tucker, is also exploring the race and reports that he will make a final decision in June.
Friends and supporters of Jefferson Parish School Board member Julie Quinn are encouraging her to join the race for the District 6 seat, which is being vacated by Nick Giambelluca. Recently, Quinn led the School Board effort to open up the search process for the superintendent's position. Although her proposal was defeated, many members of the Jefferson Parish community were quite supportive of her position. If Quinn runs, she will face State Rep. Jennifer Sneed, who has already announced. Local attorney and Republican State Central Committee member Mitch Gibbs will most likely be a candidate in that race, as well.