That’s the $64,000 question among politicos in light of Angelle’s switch from the Democrat to the Republican fold last month amid little fanfare.
If you are not quite sure who Angelle is, rest easy. You probably are not alone. Scott Angelle isn’t a household name, but it will be in time. Mark my word.
A native of Breaux Bridge and a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette), Angelle worked as a land manager in the oil business before following his father into politics. Angelle’s father, J. Burton Angelle, was a former member of the state House of Representatives and a former secretary of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The younger Angelle, who will turn 49 this month, jumped into the political arena in the 1990s with his election to the St. Martin Parish Police Jury, later becoming the first parish president of St. Martin.
When Kathleen Blanco took office as governor, she tapped Angelle to serve as secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. Gov. Bobby Jindal reappointed Angelle to the DNR post after he took office in 2008. Besides riding herd over DNR, Angelle worked the Legislature for the Jindal administration, too, advocating for the passage of administration-backed legislation while diligently, but respectfully, working to kill those that the administration opposed.
Angelle has been an effective lobbyist, so to speak, for the Jindal administration simply because it’s so easy to like the man. He’s friendly and outgoing, and his word is good, meaning he stands by his word. That’s a rarity in politics today.
When Mitch Landrieu resigned as lieutenant governor earlier this year to become mayor of New Orleans, Jindal appointed Angelle to serve as lieutenant governor temporarily. As part of his appointment as lieutenant governor, Angelle agreed not to be a candidate in a special election to name a successor to fill the remainder of the lieutenant governor’s term, which ends in January 2012. The special election was held Nov. 2. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, a Republican, captured 57 percent of the vote to turn back Caroline Fayard, a 32-year-old Democrat who made her first-ever run for public office.
Angelle is expected to return to DNR as secretary once the dust settles following the special election. He’s also expected to continue lobbying for the Jindal administration, though you could question Angelle’s sanity on the latter in light of the budgetary problems the administration and the Legislature must deal with in the spring. Angelle’s job will be difficult to say the least.
Yet, what’s next for Angelle?
Some political handicappers believe Angelle will be a candidate for statewide office in the fall 2011 elections. That’s why he switched parties, knowing that standing as a candidate for statewide office as a Democrat would be suicidal given today’s political climate.
Running for lieutenant governor would be a natural fit for Angelle, who, in case you haven’t noticed, has been very active of late as the No. 2 man in state government. His very direct dealings with BP over the mess the oil conglomerate created in the Gulf of Mexico have not gone unnoticed.
It’s entirely possible, too, that if Jindal opts not to run for re-election or leaves office early for whatever reason, Angelle would be a more than viable candidate for governor. He has the experience to do the job, and if you’ve ever heard Angelle speak, you would realize that he has a promising future ahead of him in politics in Louisiana. Bar none, Angelle is the most gifted public speaker to come along since Edwin Edwards roared onto the scene many years ago.
Sam Hanna, Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. He can be reached by calling 318-805-8158 or by e-mail at email@example.com.