July 18, 2008
Stunner: Jay Blossman Quits PSC Race
Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman stunned the political class by announcing that he is quitting his fall re-election bid. He cited no reason except the desire to focus on his family and his family-owned bank.
A source states that he knew it would be a hard-fought, negative race and "he didn't have the fire in the belly." Also, the source said Blossman was concerned about a negative political campaign distracting from the sale in the works of Parish National Bank, of which he is a stockholder and board member.
He was running under investigation by the state inspector general, after the Ethics Board charged him with improperly sending letters to trucking companies, regulated by the PSC, asking them to meet with a salesman friend of his.
His dropping out throws open the race and even calls into question the consistent 3-2 majority that has sided with utility companies on the regulatory board. The primary is Oct. 4.
"It was like a grenade went off in my lap," said candidate Eric Skrmetta on hearing the news. The Republican attorney from Metairie, who ran third in a 2003 legislative race, could have an early financial advantage with personal money he intends to put up.
The best-known candidate is former commissioner John Schwegmann, whom Blossman beat in 1996 and who twice unsuccessfully tried to regain the seat in poorly financed campaigns. The former Democrat is running as an independent.
Former state Rep. Ken Odinet of Arabi ran a close second in a state Senate race last year. The long-time populist Democrat recently switched to the Republican party. Independent Bruce Kincade is also running.