Jim Brown Audio Player
Monday, May 1st, 2023
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
HANDICAPPING THIS YEAR’S GOVERNOR’S RACE!
Alright! Alright! I just know all your readers are anxious to find out my thoughts on the coming gubernatorial election. We are five and a half months away from the first primary election date (October 14th), with seven major candidates for governor having announced so far. Remember that Louisiana has this “jungle primary,” where all candidates, irrespective of party affiliation, run against each other at the same time. So it’s possible for two candidates of the same political party to face each other in the general election that takes place on Saturday, November 18th.
Here is the conventional wisdom. The runoff sems to be heading towards a two-man race between Democrat Sean Wilson and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry. The reasoning? Wilson looks to be the only major Democrat running, and should coalesce a strong democratic vote. Landry started campaigning much earlier than the other candidates, has ramped up the state republican party nomination, and would seem to have gobs of money. With Wilson running so strong, there would seem to be only one spot left for the other candidates.
The skull duggery gets even murkier. There are conspiracy theorists who claim that current governor John Bel Edwards does not object to such a scenario. He currently is strongly supporting Democrat Wilson. And he might not really object to a Landry-Wilson runoff. Here’s the reasoning.
Right now the state is flush with money. Louisiana received 3.1 billion dollars in covid aid. In fact, a watchdog group, The Committee for Fiscal Responsibility, issued a report that Louisiana has spent $47 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding from all sources. Then there is the BP oil spill money. The Bayou State’s share of these funds comes to $6.8 billion. Combined, this is a lot of moula that has been spent during the Governor’s current term.
But alas, all these additional funds are coming to an end. So the next governor is going to face major headaches in dealing with the state’s money problems over the next few years. So what happens at the end of Landry’s four-year term? Does ole’ John Bel come roaring back? Hummm! There is only one problem with this scenario. The election is over five months away; a lifetime in state politics. The Wilson-Landry scenario might hold water for now. But what happens as the election draws closer? No one knows better than yours truly how quickly candidates can rise and fall.
A few of you old timers might remember that I ran for governor in 1987. It was a crowded field made up of a number of well qualified candidates. Governor Edwin Edwards was running for reelection, and was challenged by Republican Congressman Bob Livingston, Democratic Congressman Billy Tauzin, Democratic Congressman Buddy Roemer, former Congressman Speedy Long, and then there was me. Conventional wisdom was that Edwin Edwards was in the runoff, with either Livingston, Tauzin or myself. Roemer was running way low in the polls, and was considered out of the picture.
In fact, I was running a close second to Edwards in a poll conducted by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, just three weeks out from election day. Roemer came out of nowhere with clever TV commercials saying he was going to scrub the budget and brick up the top two floors of the education department. He ended up surging to the head of the pack, leading the first primary field and forcing then Governor Edwards out of the race. So with six months to go until election day, the race is still fluid and so much can happen right up to the end. Nobody knows this better than me.
There is a solid field of candidates for governor as well as other statewide offices. Many voters have been complaining about the direction the state has taken for a number of years. If you don’t support and vote for your candidate in this year’s election, you really give up your right to complain.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also listen to his regular podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.