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Monday, Jan. 5, 2015

A SAFE BET

Attorney seeking House seat sees opportunity in state

Between election fatigue from last fall’s political campaigns and the holiday season, it’s possible Bossier Parish voters aren’t aware that there’s an election next month to replace former House District 8 Representative Jeff Thompson. Thompson was recently sworn in as a 26th Judicial District Court judge, leaving his House seat vacant.

Candidate qualifying for this legislative seat is this week, Jan. 7-9; the primary election is set for Feb. 21, and the general election for this cycle will be March 28.

To date, only local attorney Mike Johnson has announced his intention to run for the seat. And it may be that Johnson is so well respected in the District 9 community that there will be no opposition – and he can forego an expensive campaign. 

An opportunity to visit with Johnson is a reassuring experience for a voter looking for a qualified and dedicated legislative candidate – and it’s a pleasure to share part of my visit with Forum readers.

In response to the question of what compelled him to run for the District 9 seat, Johnson said:

“I was talking to someone on the phone this morning and we were lamenting the budget shortfall that’s before us and you know, there’s some major problems facing us as a state. But I also think there’s a lot of opportunity and I really feel like this is a critical time for people who have ideas and have a solid core philosophy to be involved, because I think the next few years are going to be pivotal for the history of our state.

“I think if we do it right and we run it well, we can be a model for other states. I really feel like things are aligned so that we have a real opportunity before us, and so, I want to be a part of that and help lead it. To me, it’s about an opportunity to go and move the ball for the agenda – what’s best for the state and its economy, jobs, opportunity – I think we’re poised to be in a good position for those things in spite of the budget shortfall and the price of oil and gas and all those things.”

Our visit revealed that Johnson’s also well acquainted with the legislative process and has been and active part of it for years.

Johnson said, “For the last 15 years or so, I’ve been pretty heavily involved in and had my hand at drafting a lot of legislation and counseling legislators when they’re preparing bills; I’ve testified as an expert many, many times on matters of constitutional law and other statutory regulations and that kind of thing. And so, I know the process well and I know what it takes to write a good bill and what’s required to get it passed and how to work with people across the aisle and be diplomatic so that you can get things done. I’ve been involved in that process, so it’s not an unfamiliar thing to me at all.”  

Although most District 9 voters probably haven’t met Johnson, they likely know him by his nationally recognized constitutional attorney reputation, and he shared some thoughts on his work in this area: 

“For much of the last 15 years, I’ve spent a lot of my professional life in federal and state courts around the country defending what I would label as traditional American values things like religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and marriage, and the family. That’s been an important part of my work – constitutional law and defending the First Amendment and free speech and the free exercise of religion. I do feel we’re in an era where our freedoms are being eroded away, but more than just the freedoms we have, it’s really the core foundations of the republic.

“I have really felt a real burden to help defend those traditions and those ideals and those principles and by God’s grace, we’ve had some success at that, so I enjoy that work. I think reflects the values of the people of this district and our area. That we still cherish those ideas – those old ideas – I think they’re worthy of defense.”

Johnson is a partner in the Kitchens Law Firm. He also serves as chief counsel for Freedom Guard, and as counsel for Louisiana Right to Life, the Family Research Council, as well a vice chair of the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family – to name only a few of his associations. He and wife Kelly have four children.

This column has a fair prognosticator record – so suggesting that Johnson is the only qualifier for Louisiana House District 9 should be a safe bet.

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