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Mar 29, 2010 4:24 PM by Melissa Canone

Lafayette Lawmaker Heads House

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana House chose Lafayette Rep.
Joel Robideaux as its No. 2 leader Monday, after an unusually tight
and public battle over the job that had been decided behind the
scenes for the last two decades.
Robideaux, an independent, defeated Democratic Rep. Noble
Ellington in a 53-48 vote that split parties and caucuses and
prompted concerns of retribution from House Speaker Jim Tucker, who
backed Robideaux.
In his speech, Ellington asked of Tucker, "If anybody has to be
punished, that you put that on me."
Tucker makes committee assignments, chooses committee chairmen
and assigns a block of apartments set aside for lawmakers near the
Capitol.
The selection of the House speaker pro tem usually is worked out
in back-door negotiations, with only one member nominated on the
House floor and then approved unanimously. But this time, both
Robideaux and Ellington refused to drop out of the race, forcing a
public, roll call vote Monday to decide between them.
The last time House members publicly chose between two nominees
for the pro tem job was in 1984, said House Clerk Alfred "Butch"
Speer.
The pro tem position was left vacant when Karen Carter Peterson
was elected to the state Senate. The pro tem often presides over
House debates when the speaker is absent and is included in House
leadership discussions.
Tucker said the job is designed to assist the House speaker in
his duties, and he told lawmakers he felt Robideaux could be his
confidante.
"I'm comfortable with him. I feel a relationship with him that
I've never had the opportunity to build with Noble," Tucker said
before the vote.
The Republican, Democratic and black caucuses all split in the
vote, with members supporting both men. Ellington garnered most of
the support from north Louisiana lawmakers, while Acadiana area
lawmakers voted to back Robideaux.
After the vote, Ellington, D-Winnsboro, hugged Robideaux to
congratulate him.

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