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Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, left, shakes hands with keynote speaker Scott Angelle, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, after introducing him during the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition keynote luncheon Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at the Cajundome in Lafayette, La. Briggs is this year's LAGCOE Looey, a title bestowed upon one oil and gas industry representative at each exposition since 1955.

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

Compared to some other parts of the country, there's not a lot of evidence that Louisiana politics has changed much in the age of Donald Trump.

Louisiana isn't dotted with shuttered factories in small towns, the kind of places where swing voters who once gave Barack Obama a chance abandoned Hillary Clinton in droves. Immigration isn't a front-burner issue. International trade is generally considered an economic boon, not a threat.

Instead, it's a reliably Republican state in national elections and voted accordingly. Trump scored the same winning percentage in the general election, 58 percent, as Mitt Romney had four years earlier, and there's no reason to think Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush or any other Republican wouldn't have matched that total.

If there was one hint that something different was happening, it was the result of the open congressional election for the Acadiana-based 3rd District, where Clay Higgins, a tough-talking former St. Landry Parish sheriff's deputy who projected an image as the "Cajun John Wayne" in a series of viral anti-crime videos, trounced Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle in an all-Republican December runoff.

Angelle, fresh off a run for governor at the time and thought to be angling for another office, had other issues, including ties to unpopular former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Otherwise, he was just the sort of candidate who traditionally fares well among voters.

Not this time. There was a defiant, anti-establishment and notably Trumpian vibe to the runoff. Here's how I wrapped it up at the time: "Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District just elected a new congressman who turned an utter lack of experience from a weakness to a strength, who cultivated an image as a blunt-speaking antidote to double-talking career politicians, and who has personal problems that would torpedo any normal candidate."

As I said, Trumpian.

But the story doesn't end there.

Angelle soon resurfaced in an interesting place: The Trump administration.

The president named him director of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, basically the chief regulator of offshore oil and gas drilling. A Wall Street Journal profile published earlier this week cast him as an unabashed industry ally who sees his job as not only to ensure safety but also "drive performance" in the industry. The story describes an open-door approach in which Angelle offers warm, open access to the companies he regulates.

That's set off alarms among some veterans of the Obama administration, with which Angelle tangled when he worked in Jindal's administration and after the BP oil spill. The last person to hold the job in the prior administration, Brian Salerno, cautioned that "the rules are pretty strict and you have to do this the right way ... You don't have ability for people to come in and privately influence you."

But Trump officials certainly knew what they were getting with Angelle, whose ties to the industry are so close that he earned six figures from an oil and gas pipeline company that did work in Louisiana. Industry interests dumped huge sums into a Super PAC that supported his gubernatorial run.

Nor does that make him an outlier in the administration. Trump harped on Clinton's speeches to Goldman Sachs during the campaign, then hired a number of the firm's top executives in major economic posts. EPA chief Scott Pruitt is notoriously cozy with polluting industries and hostile to environmental advocates who support action on climate change and is acting accordingly in office.

Higgins' unexpected win may have been a sign of the times during the campaign, but the fact that Angelle landed this job tells us just as much about where the country is under President Trump.

Maybe even more.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.