Two St. Tammany Parish legislators have joined Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley as targets of voter recall efforts, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Wednesday.
Recall organizers filed paperwork initiating petition drives against state Reps. Kevin Pearson and Greg Cromer, both Slidell Republicans. Pearson is Jindal’s House point-person on proposed state employee pension benefit changes.
Cromer has been a state leader in the American Legislative Exchange Council, which supports the type of education law change that Jindal pushed.
In late March, two Lake Charles schoolteachers launched drives on Jindal and Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, over Jindal’s controversial public education revamp. Under a major plank, parents could move their children to private and parochial schools with taxpayers subsidizing tuition.
A Recall Bobby Jindal spokeswoman, Lee Barrios, said Wednesday that more efforts to oust legislators who back Jindal policies will be started in the coming days.
The group will support recalls of six legislators, including Kleckley, Pearson and Cromer, said Barrios, a former teacher who ran for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Another on the group’s target list is state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, who handled Jindal’s education package, she said.
Margaret Richard Campo, of Pearl River, is listed as the chairwoman of the Pearson recall drive while Jay E. Newcomb, of Slidell, is chairman of Cromer’s. Messages left at Campo and Newcomb’s homes for comments were not returned.
Pearson said he does not know those behind the recall, but suspects it relates to his support of education and pension law changes. “I’ll reach out and see what the concerns are,” he said.
Cromer could not be reached for comment.
To force a recall election, organizers must obtain the signatures of one-third of the registered voters in an election district within 180 days.
In Jindal’s case, petitions must be signed by one-third of the state’s 2.86 million voters.
In recent weeks, the Jindal petition drive has been spreading around the state, with parish leaders identified and training sessions scheduled in how best to go about collecting signatures, state recall leader Kevin Shannon said Wednesday. The first training session was held in Baton Rouge on Saturday; another is set for Shreveport on May 19, Shannon said.
“There’s leadership in place in 29 parishes,” said Shannon, a former pastor who participated in Wisconsin recall efforts over public employee collective bargaining rights. “We are more serious than people think.”
Barrios said the recall efforts are primarily rooted in Jindal’s undermining of public education and legislative support for the changes. But Jindal’s push to reduce state employee pension benefits and privatize many state government services are also of concern, she said.
Shannon said the legislative recall targets “are people who have 100 percent scores on those kinds of things and made themselves famous or infamous.”
“A lot of people are upset,” Shannon said. He said the anger started in the public education arena, but now it’s people in health care and those fearful of what Jindal’s privatization of government services will mean.
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