With a critical mass of state senators set to depart Baton Rouge due to term limits, it’s a good bet that the more sober-minded upper chamber will soon start resemble the rowdier, more confrontational House — not least because those Senate term-limits vacancies will create openings for similarly constrained House members.
One prominent House member, it turns out, wants to make sure of it. According to a roundup by USA Today Network’s Greg Hilburn of likely candidates to replace old-school legislative lion John Alario, who has presided over the Senate for two terms, one of the chief architects of the House’s new attitude is hoping to be in the mix.
Republican Cameron Henry, who lost his bid to be House speaker in 2016 but emerged as Appropriations Committee chair and the sharpest thorn in Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ side, is expected to run for the Jefferson Parish-based Senate seat being vacated by Conrad Appel. He’s also thinking ahead, Hilburn wrote, to the contest to be the next Senate president.
"I believe new members coming into the Senate would like to see it operate in a more independent manner as we've done in the House. I hope to continue in a role that allows me to have the most impact in helping the state," he said.
Not that he won’t get lots of pushback from those who are already there.
Other definite or possible candidates for the post are Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, Bret Allain, R-Franklin, Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, and Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, who recently announced that she would seek reelection instead of running for governor. In statements to Hilburn, most of them stressed a desire to seek common ground, uphold decorum and be governed by reason rather than doubling down on division.
That certainly sounds like a rebuke to the House’s current leadership strategy to me.