BATON ROUGE – Sam Hyde
said he’s never seen anything like this.
history professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and director of the
school’s Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, said the current battles
between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Attorney General Jeff
Landry stand out in terms of their public nature, in his view.
their first few months of working together since Edwards took office in
January, he and Landry have been diametrically opposed on a multitude of major
issues. For example, Landry released a statement on his website that called out
Edwards for not doing more for passage of the deferred House Bill 1148, which
dealt with cities perceived as sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. The two have
also disagreed on Landry’s request to have his office’s budget be given more
autonomy from the state, as well as on an executive order from Edwards on
anti-discrimination rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.
“I don’t ever recall ever seeing an attorney general or anyone else
under the governor, for that matter, in an office in an adversarial type of
relationship like this,” Hyde said.
The public nature of the current squabbles
is what makes this unique, according to Hyde. He contrasted the current
situation with that of former Gov. Murphy J. Foster (grandfather to former governor Murphy J. Foster III), who was in office from 1892
to 1900, when he had differences of opinion with Allen Jumel, the state’s adjutant general.
Hyde said that would not have been handled in a public type of way, with wars
of words and the media weighing in on them, but rather more behind the scenes.
Also, it’s not that Louisiana’s most-recent
previous governor-attorney general team of Bobby Jindal and Buddy Caldwell went without their moments of differences, Hyde said. A 2013 article on
The Lens had Caldwell estimating that he and Jindal spent a total of 35 minutes
together in their first five-plus years in office. Still, Hyde said, they had a
more cooperative relationship.
Landry and Edwards represent a newer
breed of politician in Louisiana, Hyde said – one that understands the need to
change politics-as-usual in the state. With Louisiana’s massive budget deficit –
the state is looking at a projected $600 million shortfall for 2016-17 – leading a list of issues, common ground will be needed between the
two to help get Louisiana out of trouble.
Hyde believes that Landry
and Edwards are testing each other a bit right now, and that they may reach a
plateau in perceived hostilities.
“(What) I expect to see, based on the history
of Louisiana and stuff, is that they’re going to find some way to get around
this (conflict),” Hyde said.
There has been something resembling
detente recently between the two, at least when it comes to one issue. The Advocate
reported on May 30 that Landry and Matthew Block, the governor’s executive
counsel, met with coastal-parish officials concerning lawsuits filed against
oil and gas companies over destruction of coastal wetlands and marshes. The
purpose of the meetings reportedly was to have a cooling-off period
on legal action by the parishes in order to organize a unified front among the
parishes – and the attorney general and governor.
The two also have some connections politically.
Although Landry is more of a social conservative than Edwards, Hyde said,
Edwards is conservative on issues such as abortion and gun rights.
“That’s why I’m
hopeful when I look at those two, in the bigger picture they’re not that far
apart," Hyde said. "There’s a lot of room for them to work together."