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Does Louisiana really need a state treasurer?

BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT
DAILY REPORT STAFF
JULY 18, 2017
 
With Louisiana hosting an open race for state treasurer for the first time in 17 years this fall, Jeremy Alford says there’s no better time to have a conversation about eliminating the position from state government.
 
“The field is a diverse bunch. But there’s something missing,” Alford writes in his latest column of the seven candidates, which incldues four Republicans, a Democrat, an Independent and a Libertarian. “One of the higher-profile candidates should be campaigning on the promise that they’ll eliminate the elected job.”
 
It would certainly capture the attention of the electorate, Alford says, adding most of them are completely unaware that an election cycle has just gotten underway.
 
“It would also generate a debate about streamlining a corner of government that has gone overlooked for too long,” he writes.
Alford notes there’s already a readymade, hire-me-to-fire-me campaign template to follow. In 1999, Suzanne Haik Terrell of New Orleans won her bid for election commissioner by, in part, vowing to bury the job. During her term she did just that and oversaw the merging of her department with the Secretary of State’s Office.
 
“Baton Rouge attorney E. Eric Guirard also had a ‘hire-me-to-fire-me’ platform in 1995 when he ran for lieutenant governor,” he writes. “At times the effort was as humorous as the TV commercials Guirard produces for his law practice.”
 
Though voters viewed Guirard’s PR blitz as more of a sideshow—worth only about 5% of the total electorate in the 1995 primary—Alford notes Terrell managed to topple a well-known politico in a runoff four years later with 59% of the vote.
 
“So a serious effort that avoids gimmicks could gain traction this cycle,” he writes. “There’s no denying that voters are ready to hear something different. Platitudes may even be toxic in this red state that President Donald Trump won. More importantly, voters are also well aware that government is a work in progress.”
 
 
Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.

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