Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle said Thursday he will run for governor next year.
“We need to elect a leader who not only brings people to the table who are with him but has the skill set to bring people to the table who don’t really agree with him,” Angelle said in an interview. “Quite frankly, that is what we need at this time. … My history shows that I’ve worked across party lines.”
The almost 53-year-old Breaux Bridge Republican handled oversight of the oil and gas industry for two governors — Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, and Bobby Jindal, a Republican — before stepping down to run for the PSC, which sets monthly rates for utility customers. On the five-member PSC, Angelle often cast the vote that would decide which side won.
A fiery speaker with a large repertoire of Cajun jokes, Angelle is popular in Acadiana. Like the scenarios that elected Blanco and Gov. Mike Foster, whose Acadiana base made them the leading alternative candidate in their races, Angelle could vault to the forefront if the state’s voters split between political heavyweight gubernatorial contenders Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, as many political strategists suggest might happen.
He was a Democrat who switched to the GOP in 2010.
Angelle is behind in fundraising, at least among the announced candidates. He reported having $175,575 of campaign funds on hand at the end of 2013 and says only that he will report where his fundraising stands this year in February, as is required. But Dardenne reported $1.2 million on the same date, and a super PAC has raised about $2 million that could be used on behalf of Vitter in the race for the state’s chief executive. State Rep. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat from Amite who has announced his candidacy, reported $474,725 in his war chest.
But Angelle raised several hundred dollars in a matter of days between finishing his stint as interim lieutenant governor and resuming his job at the state Department of Natural Resources. He raised about $700,000 to run in 2012 for the PSC seat that covers most of the Baton Rouge area, Lafayette and the bayou communities of Lafourche, Terrebonne and St. Mary parishes. “I’m pretty confident that when the money is needed, it’ll be there,” Angelle said.
His father, J. Burton Angelle, was longtime head of the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department. The younger Angelle started his political career at age 25 and served a dozen years on the St. Martin Parish Police Jury. He became parish president in 2000, then went to work for Blanco in 2004 as the secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources. Jindal kept him on as the head of the state agency that oversees oil and gas drilling in the state.
Angelle also did double duty, serving for several years as Jindal’s unofficial legislative liaison, who is in charge of pushing the governor’s agenda through the Legislature. He was appointed by Jindal as lieutenant governor from May to November 2010, during the interim between Mitch Landrieu leaving the post to become mayor of New Orleans and the election of Dardenne.
He commuted daily to Baton Rouge from his home in Breaux Bridge.
He resigned as DNR secretary in 2012 and was tapped by Jindal to sit on the LSU Board of Supervisors. He voted to privatize most of the charity hospitals run by LSU.
Angelle said he wants to address education, health care, transportation and public safety but won’t unveil any policies until after the Christmas holidays. “The election season is long enough already,” he said.