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Monday, April 16th, 2007

New Orleans, Louisiana





Friday, the 13th turned out to be a bad news day for Louisiana Democrats. And if the Saints were in the market for a new kicker, they sure found one in Attorney General Charlie Foti who punted on giving any opinion on the legality of former Senator John Breaux being eligible to run for Governor. Breaux had previously indicated that he would only be a candidate for Louisiana’s top post if he got the green light from Foti. The Attorney General’s office in Louisiana normally is willing to give legal opinions on any number of interpretive issues. But the General weighed his options, apparently looked at the political ramifications, and decided to take a pass.


Was Foti’s own political future a factor in his decision not to offer up his opinion? If so, his reasoning is hard to figure out. Republican operatives smell blood and will make an all out push for all Louisiana statewide offices, so he can count on major opposition whatever his actions. Republican state party leaders feel Foti is already quite vulnerable following his decision to arrest the New Orleans doctor and two nurses in a highly controversial euthanasia case still being heard by a New Orleans grand jury. So he gained little Republican tangible gratitude by stepping away from the Breaux controversy. But he now has waived the red flag at a number of die hard democrats who were salivating over a Breaux candidacy.


Democrats are understandably disappointed, and will retreat and regroup in the weeks to come hoping to unite behind one candidate. But time is running short and money will be an important ingredient for two reasons. It takes time to develop a willing financial base. Congressman Bobby Jindal has raised an impressive $5 million, but he has spent the last four years networking throughout the state, and laying the foundation to be able to tap into such significant resources.


And the incumbent governor hasn’t helped any. She is sitting on a war chest of some $3 million that has been sucked out of the campaign base. There’s only so much Democratic money to go around, and unless Blanco is willing to creatively spread her gatherings throughout the Democratic Party, any new gubernatorial candidate will have just that much less available to tap from traditional Democratic contributors.


The Republicans has some room to smile a bit, but can hardly start celebrating. For the past three years, Republican elected officials and party operatives have done little more than attack Blanco, second guessing virtually every decision she has made. Once she decided to step aside, the negatives turned to Breaux.


Now all of a sudden, there is no perceived enemy or bad guy. Like it or not, many voters will soon be asking for GOP ideas. Negatives take you only so far. But what is the Republican plan? How would they deal with a host of growing problems from education, to health care, deteriorating roads, the highest murder and incarceration rates in the country, and a dysfunctional criminal justice system in New Orleans that tarnishes the entire state? Isn’t it now your turn to step up to the plate and produce? Where’s the beef?


And how about the state Republican Party itself? Will it continue to be little more than a cheering section and campaign apparatus for candidates, then be shuttled off and put into mothballs until the next election? Or will any attempt be made to set out an agenda for change to be a platform for Republicans to support, run on, and attempt to implement?


The Democrats do have a slim window of opportunity if they can unite behind one, articulate, well-funded candidate. For you see, state Republicans have the problem of an embarrassment of riches. They have more than Jindal who has ample resources to run a major statewide campaign.


Sen. Walter Boasso is a wealthy St. Bernard Parish businessman who has the ability to put up significant campaign dollars himself, as he already has. So to in that number is Jefferson Parish businessman John Georges. They know Jindal is the front runner, and both are offended that the state Republican Party has already annointed Jindal as the official GOP candidate. Look for both of these guys to set their sights on chomping down the Congressman several notches. And in such an effort, there may be some wiggle room for just the right Democrat.


Both parties would be smart to hold a series of hearings around the state as a prelude to offering a specific recovery agenda and platform. Then gather the faithful at an early summer statewide convention to pick and endorse their candidates, bring in respective party presidential contenders, and kick off the official campaign season with a bang.


Time will tell as to whether either group has that kind of common sense.




“Democracy is people of all races, colors, and creeds united by a single dream: to get rich and move to the suburbs away from people of all races, colors, and creeds. And, unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties.”

Johnny Carson

Peace and Justice.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in a number of newspapers throughout the State of Louisiana. You can read Jim’s Blog, and take his weekly poll, plus read his columns going back to the fall of 2002 by going to his own website at http://www.jimbrownla.com.


Also, tune in Jim’s radio show on thenew995fm.com from New Orleans. It is streamed live on the worldwide web at www.thenew995fm.com from 8:00 until 11:00 am, weekdays.

4 Responses
  1. Hal LaCour

    Dear Jim,

    You seem to be taking the decision of Breaux to stay home in Maryland rather hard.

    Remember, Democrats have been in control of Louisiana and New Orleans for a very long time. We know what they do, did, and plan to do. The future under Democrat leadership will be no surprise. More of the same.

    On the GOP side, you have just not been paying attention. Bobby Jindal has been speaking up at open meetings all over the state for three years, telling all who will listen exactly what his plan fot the future is.

    The tradition is that, in Louisiana, a reform governor is a one-term governor. If Bobby sticks to his plan, one term will be enough…

    I support him.

    Best wishes,
    Hal LaCour

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