Breaux's games leave us wondering
by Sam Hanna, Jr. - posted Monday, February 26th, 2007 @ 10:50 am
If there is any truth to the rampant speculation over former U.S. Sen. John Breaux moving back to Louisiana to run for governor in this fall's elections, two quick questions come to mind.
No. 1, why would Breaux want to give up his $4-million-per-year position at the noted lobbying firm Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C.?
No. 2, what's Breaux really up to?
Like many former members of the Senate, Breaux parlayed his more than 30-year tenure in the Congress into a high-paying lobbying job when he retired from the most exclusive club in the world—the U.S. Senate—in 2005. Breaux did more than become a lobbyist. He landed at Patton Boggs, one of the most respected and most successful lobbying firms on Capitol Hill.
It's a match made in heaven.
Patton Boggs has ties to Louisiana. Tommy Boggs, one of the partners in the firm, is the son of the late Hale Boggs, who was a widely respected member of the U.S. House, representing the New Orleans area for years before disappearing in a plane crash in Alaska in the early 1970s. His body was never recovered. Hale Boggs' wife, Lindy Boggs, succeeded her husband and served in the House until retiring in 1991. While serving there, she distinguished herself as well. Later in the 1990s, then-President Bill Clinton appointed her ambassador to the Vatican.
In part, by name alone, Tommy Boggs has been extremely successful at the lobbying gig in Washington. His firm is known for hiring former administration officials and former members of the Congress, who in turn are called upon to use their extensive contacts on The Hill to deliver what the firm's clients want--federal appropriations, regulatory relief, tax breaks and just about anything else that may be deemed important to the client and to Patton Boggs in continuing its representation of the client in question.
Sounds like a job hand-tailored for Breaux.
On a local note, Patton Boggs can count the City of Monroe and the city's dysfunctional chamber of commerce as clients.
While much has been said in the past couple of weeks over whether Breaux is serious about running for governor and whether he can actually qualify as a candidate since he's a resident of Maryland these days, there are a few pieces to the puzzle, so to speak, that don't fit.
Breaux didn’t have any personal wealth to speak of before taking the job at Patton Boggs. In other words, that $4 million per year that he’s being paid today represents more money than he’s ever had. At $4 million per year, Breaux can quickly make up for lost time—and money in the bank—for the number of years he lived on a congressional salary.
If Breaux has lost his mind and is serious about becoming a candidate in this fall's gubernatorial election, he must overcome the residency factor.
Louisiana law is clear that you must be a resident of the state for five consecutive years to be eligible to run for governor. Breaux's on the losing end of that minor stipulation. He registered to vote in Maryland in 2005, in essence giving up his residency in Louisiana at the same time.
We live in Louisiana, though, meaning there probably exists a fairly sharp attorney or two somewhere who could possibly convince a judge somewhere in this state to overlook the residency requirement to run for governor and give Breaux a pass in that regard.
That's a stretch, being a bit sarcastic, but it's possible because this is Louisiana. Strange things have been known to happen, especially in a courtroom.
Set aside, for a moment, that Breaux lives in Maryland and that it's highly unlikely he could ever qualify for the governor's race.
Instead, let's ask ourselves if Breaux would turn on a political ally, a fellow Democrat, and old friend, Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
The answer to that question is not likely.
Breaux may be a seasoned politician and was a masterful tactician in his many years of service in the Congress, but he's no cold-hearted, snake-in-the-grass who would turn on a friend.
That begs the question.
What's Breaux really up to by not stomping out the rampant speculation that he may run for governor?
It could have a little something to do with Breaux clearing the field for Blanco, shooing away any Democrats who harbor any plans of jumping into the race because they fear Blanco can't be re-elected in light of her poor job approval ratings among the voters.
As long as Breaux is mentioned as a potential candidate it's highly unlikely that any other Democrat, besides Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, will move forward with any plans to oppose Blanco and the front-runner in the race, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal.
Sam Hanna, Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at email@example.com.