The friction between House Republican leadership and Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards is no secret. But is it just partisan politics, or is it personal? I sat down with House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry to try and find out.
“The governor and I get along just fine,” Henry insisted. “We went deer hunting once, duck hunting twice last season. No, personally, he and I get along just fine.”
Henry admits he has some philosophical differences with the governor when it comes to budgeting.
“We’re both trying to get to the best point – it’s just what methodology are you going to use? You know, he would prefer to raise more revenue. I don’t think we need to raise more revenue because I think one of the problems we have is we don’t know how much money is coming in, because everything’s based on these estimates that are always wrong. That’s not a friction of he doesn’t like me and I don’t like him. That’s just two different political philosophies.”
Yet it wasn’t that long ago that Henry and Edwards were allies – both part of the group known as the “fiscal hawks.”
“He was in that room when we were downstairs discussing all the things we wanted to do – and couldn’t do – under Jindal,” Henry explains. “Discussing how we wish we had more independence, how we wished the governor didn’t pick the Speaker, how we wish we had more control, how we wish agencies would give us more information. That’s what he and I preached during that period of time.”
That message helped get Edwards elected governor.
“The uniqueness for him is that he just happens to be the governor that all that work has come to fruition and he has to deal with that independence.”
Coming directly from the legislature to the governor's mansion, Edwards has deep respect for the legislature, and the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. And instead of the House embracing Edwards as one of their own that “made good” by moving to the governorship, they are rebuffing him at every turn.