The landmark books by the late journalist John Maginnis have been optioned by a Maryland-based media firm that hopes to produce documentaries based on his works.
Strategic Partners & Media also has an office in New Orleans, said Jackie Drinkwater Maginnis, the widow of the LaPolitics’ founder. The firm has an option of two years on both books, she added.
The Last Hayride chronicles the 1983 campaign of Edwin Edwards and Cross to Bear recounts Edwards’ race against David Duke. Both books were published by Darkhorse Press, originally a sister company to Louisiana Political Review, which publishes LaPolitics.com.
“Reading between the lines, I think they perceived both books as still being relevant today,” Maginnis said of the media firm. “But I sensed a keen interest in Cross To Bear because of the political situation right now.”
Other terms of the deal have not been publicly disclosed.
Landrieu Reflects On Her Career
Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has been out of office since 2015, was inducted into the hall of fame of the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business recently.
The ceremony took place at the New Orleans Marriott, where Landrieu was introduced as “the most successful woman” in the history of Louisiana government. She also reflected on her time in office, which overlapped with raising a family.
“I remember so clearly running for governor when (my son) Connor was two; running for the Senate when he was five; and then adopting Mary Shannon into our family the first year I was in the Senate,” Landrieu said. “So I was learning how to be a senator and a mother at the same time, which I would not recommend to anyone.”
As for what has changed the most, Landrieu noted the mood of American politics. “I try to spend my time not concerned with the pettiness of politics, which has gotten so petty and so nasty and so destructive with our current president,” she said. “I don’t know what (politics has) turned into. I don’t recognize it. It’s not the same thing. It’s not the same at all as what it used to be. Because we would fuss and we would fight and we would get in arguments with Democrats and Republicans. But, really, at the end of the day it was, ‘How do we build a better highway system? How do we build a better criminal justice system?’”
The Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business is housed at Nicholls State University. It was established in 1990.
Congressman Considers Run For Governor
Congressman Ralph Abraham, who represents Northeast Louisiana, is expected to make a decision in the coming months on whether he will be a candidate for governor in 2019.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to stand for re-election. But several Republican politicians, like Abraham, are keeping their options open.
Known as “Doc” to friends and family, the two-term congressman recently told LaPolitics, “A number of people are asking me about it, but I haven’t made any decisions yet.” More recently, he told The USA Today Network of Louisiana papers that he will make a final call on the issue during the first quarter of 2018.
The 2015 race that pitted Edwards against former U.S. Sen. David Vitter was driven by personalities, and if 2019 follows the same path, Abraham’s story could become an asset, political watchers believe. A practicing physician and former veterinarian, Abraham is also an airplane pilot and a mountain-climber. He does, however, have somewhat of a regional disadvantage, given that most modern Louisiana governors have run out of South Louisiana.
Abraham is starting to offer voters a glimpse into what such a contrast would look like. He recently sent a letter to the governor asking him to guarantee that the LSU medical school in Shreveport won’t be moved under any new operator agreements. It could become an issue that helps bring Abraham into statewide discussions.
Fields As Candidate Again?
Local politicos in the Baton Rouge area are speculating that former legislator and congressman Cleo Fields could mount a comeback bid.
Fields is said to have had discussions about the possibility, specifically about Senate District 14, which is currently occupied by term-limited state Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge.
It’s also a seat for which sitting Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, has already declared her candidacy, making for what could be one of the hottest legislative races of 2019.
Fields last served in the upper chamber from 1988 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2008. He turned 55 recently. He’s remained active in politics since leaving elected life, from running his own tickets to cutting robocalls for candidates around the state.
In 1997, he was caught in an FBI surveillance tape, accepting cash from former Gov. Edwin Edwards. He was labeled as an “unindicted co-conspirator” to Edwards. But he was never found guilty of any wrongdoing.
A legislatively created task force has been touring the state, visiting locales that hold historic Louisiana documents, from universities and clerks’ offices to courthouses and private foundations.
But the research has become so time-consuming, and archiving needs so profound, that Sen. Mike Walsworth said the task force may ask for an extension beyond its March 2018 expiration.
“We’d like to be ready to ask for legislation by then,” said Walsworth, chairman of the Historical Archives Task Force, “but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
The task force is currently in a fact-finding phase, but it’s beginning to narrow its scope of interest. It’s focusing on issues such as these:
— What are some of the “new needs” facing archivists? For example, the standards for storing microfilm are growing outdated. New and sometimes costly techniques are now required.
— How can public entities stretch their dollars? The idea of a university, for instance, sharing its high-speed scanner with a sheriff’s office in rural Louisiana is appealing to some task force members. The same goes for eliminating duplications in specialties or subject matter.
— Who has what? Walsworth said that in just about every Louisiana courthouse, there are historical papers that date back to the 1700s, hiding idly in file cabinets. Making sure people know they exist, and where to find them, is an important charge. “We want people to be more interested in it,” Walsworth said. “We’d like for people to, at the end of the day, go looking.”
— Do you trash it or preserve it? Don’t forget, physical storage space is becoming a problem, and some entities are housing “floors upon floors of boxes” of archives. “You can’t keep everything,” Walsworth said.
— What’s next for the archival of modern documents and records? With politicians relying on email for press releases, YouTube for legislative updates and Instagram for moments of note, the question of how all of that should be maintained for history is daunting at best.
The task force must forward its recommendations to the Legislature 60 days before the opening of the regular session, according to Walsworth’s resolution, which lawmakers adopted earlier this year.
They Said It
“We take a real pride in Louisiana of being 49th to Mississippi’s 50th. But we weren’t even beating Mississippi in this category.”
— State Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, on the recent criminal justice reforms
“Many of them just hate each other today.”
— Former Congressman Billy Tauzin, on current members of Congress, during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the Council For A Better Louisiana
“It’s very difficult to stab somebody in the back if you had dinner with them the night before.”
— Former U.S. Sen. John Breaux, on the need for socializing in Washington, D.C., during the CABL panel
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.