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House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, left, and Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, stand next to one another. This year, Barras, sponsored a bill to legalize ride-sharing statewide. Alario used parliamentary moves that doomed the legislation.

With the fire-breathing Republican advocates of the Second Amendment in full cry at the State Bond Commission, did anyone notice who gave them a lecture about what being a conservative means?

The guy that 30 years ago would not have been an obvious choice for the William F. Buckley of Louisiana Award: John A. Alario.

Yes, he is R-Westwego now, not D, and as a Republican leads the Senate. But decades ago, when opposition to Gov. Edwin W. Edwards and all his allies and works was the definition of good-government politics, Alario was a Democrat, comfortably part of the EWE ruling class, and one of the most effective legislators ever.

On Thursday, he was among the minority of members — and of course, administration officials and all senators of whatever party affiliation followed his lead — who objected to the motion by Treasurer John Schroder and House Republicans, as well as Attorney General Jeff Landry, to make extreme Second Amendment loyalty a requirement for doing business with the state. It was a dumb idea, but it passed; Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin backed the motion, probably not unadvisedly, as he is seeking to keep his post in the fall election.

Alario sermonized for his (fellow?) Republicans: “I am worried about the bottom line to the state of Louisiana, too. True conservatives worry about the dollars.”

True conservatives do.

That Alario threw in that line, delivered with stinging politeness, is not that strange. As a legislator from Jefferson Parish, he was always somewhat less liberal on some issues even back in the EWE heyday.

He grew steadily more conservative on business issues over the years as his constituency expanded beyond his barony of Westwego. And one of the secrets of his leadership, then and now, was his preternatural calm and unfailing courtesy to those (like this writer, as a young Republican and newspaperman) who were of differing opinion.

Alario understands that government should be driven by good policy, but officials also have ministerial decisions to make, doing the peoples’ business with an eye toward efficiency and, yes, the dollars.

For those believing themselves suffering from public attention deficiency, like Schroder and Landry, every decision is an Armageddon of policy debate that should be run toward with gasoline and matches, hoping to inflame the public.

Mr. Buckley might be more comfortable with Alario, D- or R-Westwego.

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