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Monday, October 23rd, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


So they threw a party, and nobody came. That’s what happened in Louisiana’s recent gubernatorial election.  The turnout of voters going to the polls was a pathetic 35%.  But remember that only 50% of Louisiana citizens are actually registered.  What that means is that there was a turnout of only 18 % of voters who are actually qualified to vote.  So 18% of voters took the time to go to the polls and pick those officials who will lead the state in the coming four years.

When all was said and done, 82% of those who could vote did not care just who would make the policies that govern their daily lives. They didn’t care who would decide if almost 200,000 Louisianans stay qualified for basic healthcare through Medicaid. They didn’t care how their kids will be educated and whether school choice will be the new norm.  They didn’t care about which candidates actually had specific plans for dealing with the increasing problem of crime where several cities in the Bayou State are listed as the most dangerous in the U.S.  They didn’t care about the growing problem of fentanyl use that is killing thousands of Louisianans every year. They didn’t care about the outrageous insurance rates they continue to pay every year.

I could go on and on, but you get my drift. Elected officials in Louisiana are only as good or as bad as the people who put them in office. And a vast majority of voters in the state said, “I don’t care.”

The Democratic Party in the Bayou state is on life support. There is not a major elected official who carries the Democratic label.  Turnout in Democratic strongholds like New Orleans was abysmal. In the Crescent City, only 27% of registered voters went to the polls, the lowest turnout in the state.  Virtually none of the democratic officials in New Orleans endorsed and helped other Democrats who were on the ballot. In days of old, Democratic voters in the greater New Orleans area had a major “get out the vote” effort, with a door knocking plan encouraging people to go, and volunteers lined up to drive people to the polls. Those days are long gone.

Statewide, the Democrats did not have candidates in 44 different legislative races.  That means Republicans ran unopposed by any Democrat in almost half of all legislative challenges.  The state republican party spent $1.2 million while the Democrat party spent a paltry $28,000 in the month before the election.

The heyday of the Democratic Party was during the 1990’s when more moderate and even conservative candidates ran under this party’s label.  Statewide officials like Gov. Edwin Edwards, Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odem and Attorney General Richard Ieyoub traveled the state recuiting candidates for local offices, and raising campaign dollars for the Democratic coffers. Wealthy businessmen like Buddy Leach and Jim Bernhard headed up the Democratic drive and invested dollars and effort to build the party throughout the state.  But those days are long gone also.

Whether you like the new governor Jeff Landry or not, one has to admit that he ran a first-rate campaign.  He had a solid base of being Attorney General that kept him in the news headlines, and gave him entre to many early contributors.  A contributor could hedge his bet by donating to Landry for his attorney general campaign fund. Landry could then, under existing law, use funds for either reelection or any other office he might choose, like Governor.  He began campaigning for the state’s top office shortly after being reelected as Attorney General four years ago. By the time other candidates considering a possible run, Landry had the race already locked up. A Trump endorsement was lagniappe and was a bit of a help, but Landry was so far ahead by then that it really made little difference.

Three runoffs on the ballot set for November 18th.  In races for Secretary of State, Attorney General and Treasurer, it’s a Republican vs a Democrat. Look for a clean sweep by Republicans.  Electing democrats, at least for the time being, is a thing of the past.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

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.







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