BATON ROUGE (CNS)—The word out of Baton Rouge is that OnMessage, the political consulting out of Alexandria, VA., that made Timmy Teepell head of its newly established Southern office, is a little disenchanted with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s alter-ego.
Teepell was hired after Jindal won his re-election in 2011 to drum up business for OnMessage and he immediately signed up Congressman Bill Cassidy who subsequently fired Teepell before paying him or OnMessage a dime.
Teepell was supposed to be the Grover Norquist of Louisiana—able to get his candidates to leap tall political polls in a single bound and to attract money like vultures to a rotten meat wagon (a somehow appropriate analogy).
But something no one counted on occurred: Jindal’s poll numbers tanked and suddenly Teepell couldn’t scare up any bidness for the partners back in Virginia and things began to get a little testy.
Of course it’s difficult to be a rainmaker when you spend all your time on the fourth floor of the Capitol, controlling Jindal’s every move and mood.
Coinciding with the rumored parting of the ways in the future between Teepell and OnMessage is the Rodney Alexander exit from Congress. Enter State Sen. Neil Riser in one of the most transparently-orchestrated political moves in recent history. Oh, sure, spokespersons for both Alexander and Riser (and Jindal, for that matter—if one could ever pen them down long enough to get them off Twitter) will deny that the fix was in but, c’mon, we may have been born at night but it wasn’t last night.
Of course Alexander had to have something to fall back on; he couldn’t be expected to make it on his congressional pension and social security.
The fact that Jindal was waiting in the wings to offer Alexander that $130,000-a-year job as Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs that could bump his state retirement from about $7,900 to $81,900 per year was just a little too coincidental. Our friends at another blog, The Daily Kingfish, pointed out that the skids had been greased some time ago by State Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe) and Alexander’s fellow Congressman John Fleming. (Walsworth, you might remember, was the one who asked a teacher during a committee hearing if her class was growing humans from cultures in her science lab.)
Now, word is, both Teepell and Jindal’s chief fundraiser, Alexandra “Allie” Bautsch, will be working on Riser’s behalf for the next couple of months until the election—but for her firm The Bautsch Group (which is still in good standing with the Secretary of State) and not OnMessage. That should sound the death knell for the Teepell-OnMessage partnership. You can probably expect the announcement of their transfer to Riser’s campaign any Friday now. Jindal prefers making those kinds of announcements late on Fridays so as not to attract too much media attention.
Bautsch at one time held the dual role of chief fundraiser for Jindal and treasurer of the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children.
She apparently is more proficient at fund-raising than Teepell is at attracting new clients. Since Jindal’s re-election, she has pulled in more than $1.2 million—and this for a lame-duck governor who insists he has no aspirations to higher office.
Of course, Jindal could, if he wishes to do so, pour much of that money into the campaign of a preferred candidate—like Riser.
So, with the Jindal crowd actively working on behalf of Riser, better known for his whack-o gun rights bills than anything else he’s ever done in Baton Rouge (a conflict of interest, we might add, given that he runs a couple of funeral homes), it would appear that he might be a shoo-in for the position, right?
There is also word that Monroe’s Harris Brown might challenge Riser. The former President of the Tensas Basin Levee District, Brown is a capable politician who has—and can raise—money, is likable and who knows his way around well enough to be a viable opponent
There are other potential candidates as well—one, Louisiana Tech alumnus Adam Terry, who would have the important backing of Ruston’s James Davison who is a former Jindal ally but who became disenchanted when the governor stopped taking his phone calls.
Terry is Alexander’s chief of staff, so he ran and won, he would enter office already knowing the important contacts inside the Beltway.