11 October 2003

LA political news from around the state 

Sorry for such brief postings lately, but I've been living in a whirlwind of po-boys and Abita beer for two days. It's likely to continue like this for a couple more, but I'll get online and update the site as often as possible. There are at least two interesting stories from Gannett's reporters this morning.

The first tells us about Senator John Breaux's criticisms of Jindal and Foster in his endorsement of Blanco. Of Jindal's work on the bipartisan medicare commission, he said, "Bobby Jindal was a staffer who worked for us. He did what others told him to do.”

The second story is about how Bobby Jindal is attempting to keep Bush out of Louisiana during his campaign. Okay, he's not really actively trying to keep the President out just yet, but he hasn't made any invitations. I think it's funny that the President could be a liability to a candidate for Governor in our conservative state.

10 October 2003

Endorsements for Blanco 

Major statewide players Breaux and Mary Landrieu endorse Kathleen Blanco today. Read about it here.

This obviously doesn't surprise anyone, but if Landrieu and Breaux use their substantial political machinery to help promote Blanco's candidacy you can count on a good showing from the Lt. Governor come November. At the very least this is good news. Now back to drinking. . .

Response to Ashley Bell 

Good for the Louisiana Democratic Party. If you want to read their response to College Democrats president Ashley Bell click here.

Link via politicsLA.com

Polling news 

There has been a lot of talk about this Verne Kennedy poll around the Louisiana political website crowd ([is that a crowd?]see bayoubuzz.comif you don't believe me). The poll puts Blanco and Jindal in a statistical tie with about seventeen percent undecided, but when Kennedy adjusted the black undecideds Blanco is put over the top, giving her 52%. I'm only mentioning this poll to say that it's probably meaningless if you happen to see any discussion of it anywhere else. It was taken as a hypothetical over two nights before the Saturday election, so the likely voters from last week is sure to change going into a runoff election. The numbers don't suggest anything that most halfway intelligent people couldn't have inferred on their own anyway. Once we get some new numbers from Kennedy we'll be in business.

Leach endorses Blanco, but she's nowhere to be found 

Election watchers were pretty clear on who(m?) the most liberal candidate was in our governor's primary. Leach ran his campaign from a position as far left as anyone I remember in my short history following LA politics, and now he's left in the position of endorsing a conservative Democrat who will probably be a tool of business interests or a very conservative Republican who will definitely be a tool of business interests.

In politics you have to get behind a horse if you want any influence though, so Thursday Leach made a fairly high-profile show of support for Kathleen Blanco. Blanco couldn't be bothered to comment about the endorsement though. Instead she was addressing this forum sponsored by 100 corporate execs who are members of the Louisiana chapter of the Young President's Organization. The Picayune staffer who put this together makes a bit of a stink over the fact that the press wasn't contacted about the event, quoting one of the organizers:

So why all the secrecy? "We wanted the candidates to be as candid as possible," said Louisiana chapter Chairman Rand Falbaum, who runs a ceiling products company in Shreveport. Falbaum referred further questions to the organization's Web site, where a statement of "core principles" suggests the group places a premium on discretion: "Relationships of trust require respect for the privacy, integrity and confidentiality of the individual, the organization and its activities."

I can appreciate that campaigning often requires meeting with interest groups behind closed doors, but a meeting with a hundred very influential business leaders is very different from any old interest group, and candidates should make better efforts avoid the appearance of impropriety that can erupt from closed door "forums" like these.

Perhaps more significant about yesterday's events is the signal it represents from the Blanco campaign. She was endorsed by the fourth place finisher in the governor who got the majority of his votes from the few minorities who turned out last weekend and she essentially snubbed him to speak to a gaggle of business leaders flexing their political muscle. Is this a signal that Blanco will not move left at all to gin up support among the Democratic base (a base that already questions her Democratic bona fides) or is Leach just too far left for her comfort? She'll need the support of the black community to put her in the governor's mansion, so she'll have to do something in the coming weeks. Things should really start to shape up soon, but I'll keep watching so you don't have to.

Where's my take? 

If only I were a state trooper I might have been in on this bust this afternoon instead of on my way to New Orleans. Who puts $3.5 million in a trailer anyway?

Around the blogs tonight, TPM links us to the moveon.org affidavit. Read it, sign it, and help George Bush understand just how easy it could be to find out who leaked Valerie Plame's name to reporter Bob Novak.

Calpundit reminds us that Krugman's back! And he's slapping "good guy" conservative David Brooks up pretty silly.

Finally, I didn't watch the Dem debate tonight on CNN, but the folks at Not Geniuses (they permalink, but there are multiple posts, if you're interested go to the main page and scroll down through their impressions) and Daily Kos are all over it, so go see what they have to say.

I'll be hitting the best damn sandwich place in the country tomorrow (for the N'olinians that's Frankie and Johnny's) at around noon, and I plan to start toasting to the Abita gods shortly after my arrival, so expect some early posting and not much else tomorrow. It's always good talking to the folks though, so stop by the blog and drop some comments if the mood strikes you.

09 October 2003

This one's painful 

I suppose I should link to this article from the Talon News (never heard of it, but it appears to be a right-wing org's publication judging by all the G. Gordon Liddy and Ann Coulter ads). I don't know anything about the website, so I can't vouch for the story's validity, but my commitment to airing all sides of every story demand linking to unflattering portraits of Democrats. This one alleges some memo by the College Democrats (perhaps the most useless Dem org in the country considering how little they do) making a racial slur against Bobby Jindal. If anyone has any information about Talon News, I'd appreciate that too.

Link via politicsLA.com

And so it begins. . . 

I suspected that once the media's California hangover subsided that they might look to Louisiana and find a woman and an Indian in the hunt for LA's governor. It looks like National Review is first on board, and surprisingly it's not a piece fawning over the GOP's boy wonder, rather it looks more like an overview of the race itself. Go see for yourself.

Leavin' town 

I'll be leaving for New Orleans pretty soon to spend the weekend with some friends. I'll have Internet access so I'll still be posting, but it might be a little light if I spend too much time at such fine establishments like this one here, or here, or if I'm lucky even here. Anyway there's good drinking and eating to be had all over the old town, so I'll be making the most of it.

Bring back the gold standard! 

That's what Texas Republicans want, at least. I'd be remiss not to point out Kevin Drum's excellent summation of why left-leaning people fear the GOP agenda. This is an excellent post that lefties everywhere should be reading. Besides it's about our neighbors to the west, and who doesn't like to get in on some Texas hatin' every now and then?

Au revoir, Governor Foster 

Foster made it clear yesterday that he won't be running for state office in the future anytime soon. This is hardly surprising since he'll be 77 before he's even eligible to run for the state's highest office again, but stranger things have happened in LA's history(Earl Long, anyone?).

I'm probably of the minority that thinks Foster really wasn't that bad. I thought many of his policy goals were terribly misguided, but his independent and usually pragmatic streak should be welcomed in a state where partisanship is the order of the day. I'm not sad to see him go, but he should at least leave office proud that he wasn't fully beholden to interests on either side of the aisle during his tenure as governor. Of course it's my blog, so I'll say what I want. If you disagree let me know in comments.

Why I hate The Picayune cont'd 

When they put a stupid teaser on their website like the one I mentioned last night I make egregious misjudgments about the nature of the stories they intend to print. Here's the link to the entire story.

I haven't written for a newspaper since I was in high school, but I was under the impression that the common practice was to build the inverted pyramid. Reporters should put their most important information up in the front of the story and then move on to background. This way people can stop reading after a few paragraphs and still get to the heart of the story.

Now remember that I quoted the lede last night which certainly gives the impression that something was going on in Key West, Florida with Knoth and his high school students. Then the story starts quoting alumni who know and remember Fr. Knoth as a good man, and how much they hurt for him.

The writer doesn't revisit the Florida trip again until his last sentence, when he writes, "As for the trip to Key West, there was nothing untoward about it: 'We just really went there to bake in the sun,' he said.

This really bugs the shit out of me. I wouldn't really care if they hadn't left that teaser up on the website all night last night. I can't imagine how many other people saw and have now just assumed that the charges stem from these goings on in Florida. You would expect a newspaper to try and shed light on news, not actively confuse and trick their readers by leading a story that makes a suggestion not backed up the reporting in the paper. Instead it looks like a shameful way for them to sell papers.

08 October 2003

One more reason I hate The Picayune 

The "tomorrow's headlines today" feature makes me so goddamned mad. The reporters in New Orleans appear to have the goods on the allegations against Father Knoth at Loyola, but they won't post the entire story until well after I hit the sack tonight. Instead they post this "teaser;" keep in mind that I'm quoting the extent of the posted material.

A question of conduct
Jeff Abshire thought of it as unusual — but not unsettling — when he and another teen-age student were invited by their high school principal, a man of 38, to spend spring break with him in Key West, Fla. The year was 1987 and the principal of their prestigious Jesuit high school was the Rev. Bernard Knoth, who was ousted Tuesday as president of Loyola University.

This seems to jive with the rumors that floated around campus about Fr. Knoth. From what I can infer from the lede I quoted he was engaging in inappropriate conduct with a teenager. Let me state here that I'm not trying to excuse the conduct of Fr. Knoth with my next few points. I think it is a terrible abuse of his position as these student's principal to take them to Florida and then (now I'm on shaky ground because I have no idea what happened after the invitation because the damned website won't let me access the entire story yet.) engage in any kind of sexual contact with them. However I do think that this action is very different from pedophilia, so let's not go down that route. By equating homosexual activity with post-pubescent minors and the abuse of defenseless children we fail to make some very important distinctions about the nature of the crimes. This action seems more like statutory rape and should be treated that way.

Does that mean Knoth should be let off the hook? Hell no! This is terrible judgment and the fact that the students were in his charge says speaks very poorly of his ability to hold any position of authority over minors, whether it be in a church or in the secular world.

Sigh, I don't really want to get any further into this until I can read the entire story, so I'll get to bed and get a full post and link out tomorrow morning. For now I guess I'm no better than those jerk offs in charge of NOLA.com.

Don't shoot the messenger 

I'm wary of charging politicians of insincerity (or worse self-hate) just because they happen to belong to a political party that most of their ethnic counterparts eschew, but my commitment to providing my dear readers won't prevent me from linking to this story about Bobby Jindal by a writer out of Boston. It's actually a fairly tempered, thoughtful piece that tries to give Jindal the benefit of the doubt but falls just a little short.

As you may have figured out, Jindal is a Republican — an arch-conservative Republican in the Deep South mold. He opposes abortion without exception, rails against the "radical gun control lobby," and has pledged not to raise taxes. A convert to Catholicism with a pronounced evangelical edge, he favors displaying the Ten Commandments in public places. He and his wife, Supriya, have a "covenant marriage," a legal option in Louisiana.

. . .

Fast-talking, over-achieving, geeky, and definitely brown-skinned, Jindal is an unexpected choice for the Louisiana Republican demographic that nearly got Klansman David Duke elected governor as recently as 1991. But that's precisely the crowd where he's made his base, touting at every turn his religious fervor, his conservative social agenda and his ties to President Bush. Defying the political pundits who gave him no chance when he launched his campaign last February, he's forged an alliance of backwater Bubbas with secular suburbanites impressed with his policy chops. The New Orleans Times-Picayune, for instance, enthusiastically endorsed him for his skills and brainpower while strategically omitting from its editorial any mention of his social stances.

. . .

Jindal's success challenges those who would dismiss him as a sell-out, an eccentric, or merely a product of Louisiana's famously eclectic political culture, and hence an outlier on the national scene. In fact, his combination of technocratic brilliance and self-righteous religiosity of a slightly darker hue represents a powerful political experiment with the potential to change the game. Desi intellectuals, black activists, progressives of all hues and the Democratic Party — all should take note.

That last paragraph is how the column closes, and on second reading I guess it does give Jindal the benefit of the doubt, while not really agreeing with his politics. The author does manage to get some good digs in at Jindal's pandering in the process though. Whatever, you are big girls and boys. Just go read it and decide for yourselves. Let me know what you think.

The last word on Terrell 

My Lafayette readers will be familiar with The Times of Acadiana. It's a weekly newspaper that has certainly seen better days, just take a look at their cover story this week. It's essentially an advertisement for a local design company. That doesn't matter though, because the proverbial squirrel eventually finds an acorn.

In this case, it's Louis Rom's weekly column From the Hip. He takes on Suzy Terrell's dirty campainging in this one; comparing her to Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man. It's a decent column and it's hard to get tired of Suzy bashing, so go read it. In the meantime, here are the key quotes:

Terrell, who was in position to unseat incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu last fall, had a solid lead on her challenger for attorney general this year.

Then Terrell did what she's always done. She went negative and she lied. And, just like last year, it failed her.

I don't know when Terrell is going to get it, when she'll figure out that negative campaigning often hurts a frontrunner more than it helps. But I'm sure that in the future her opponents will grin rather than grimace next time she launches another series of negative ads - "Yeah, here we go again."

. . .

I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to wonder if Terrell thinks we're all a bunch of idiots? Or if she's the "Rain Man" of Louisiana politics, a deft administrator and aggressive reformer lacking the common sense of a door knob when it comes to public relations?

. . .

Terrell, who at one point led Foti by nearly 20 percentage points, would have been better served to keep it clean. Maybe, and I doubt this, she will learn her lesson in time for her next run for office. If not, perhaps Tom Cruise is shopping for someone to replace Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man 2: I Can't Shut my Mouth."

Okay, so Rom could have done better than Rain Man, but he makes a good point. Most people in the state would have very little trouble supporting Suzy Terrell, but she seems absolutely incapable of running a clean campaign, and she's paid the price at the polls twice now. It's hard to overstate the damage her negative campaigning has done to her career, but she keeps going back to it. I guess we won't have to worry about it again for a very long time though. I say good riddance, my friends.

tape it and watch it on a Friday. . . 

Slate has a drinking game for the Democratic debate tomorrow night that's sure to get even the hardest of drinkers loaded. This thing puts the century club on Jack Daniels to shame.

don't believe me:

Joe Lieberman
Take a drink if he:
Refers to a rival as "Brother [Name]"
Uses the word "faith"
Mentions Al Gore
Gets booed

. . .

Take one drink if:
A candidate mentions an ordinary American by name
A candidate mentions Bill Clinton
A candidate mentions John Ashcroft
A candidate mentions John McCain
A candidate mentions Enron
A candidate mentions Halliburton
A candidate mentions a member of his or her family
A candidate gives out his or her campaign Web site URL
A candidate flourishes a printout of a strategy paper or a bill he or she co-sponsored
A candidate looks into the wrong camera during introductions
A candidate speaks Spanish
A candidate refuses to answer a hypothetical question
A candidate evades the question of whether they'd vote for Bush's $87 billion
A candidate uses the phrase "when I'm president"
A candidate promises to "support our troops"

May God protect the over-anxious political junkies at college campuses (campi?) all over the country tomorrow night.

He really just wants to make that appearance on "K Street" 

Sen. Don Nickles announcement yesterday that he'll be retiring has set off a whole new wave of speculation about John Breaux's future in the Senate. Nickles and Breaux are the ranking Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and the news that Nickles intends to start a lobbying firm (an expressed wish of Breaux as well) would lend credence to Breaux's possible retirement. I imagine that the two of them could put together a firm that would be very lucrative, but we won't know anything for sure about Breaux's future until the runoff is settled.

If Blanco wins, expect John Breaux to retire and Blanco to appoint Congressman Chris John to the seat. This would give John the advantage of running for reelection rather than facing a Republican for an open seat. If he's lucky Suzy Terrell could run for the Senate again.

No surprises here 

In other news from the Congressional delegation, our senators and congresspeople in Washington have coalesced their support of the respective candidates for governor along party lines. This isn't really a surprise, but here's the story out of The Advocate.

What happened to those coattails? 

Could Bush be in such bad shape that he's now persona non grata in one of the states that overwhelmingly voted to send him to office three short years ago?

Billy Tauzin is a bit of an enigma, and he's not running the Jindal campaign, but quotes like this one (scroll down the page a little bit) should worry the Bush administration:

Tauzin said he'll be "pretty active" in promoting Jindal's candidacy. Nonetheless, he warned of a possible backlash against Washington. "This race has got to be settled in Louisiana," he said. "We probably shouldn't do a whole lot except help financially." The same goes for Bush, Tauzin said. "I don't think the president needs, or should, come down," he said. White House spokesman Taylor Gross said Tuesday that "the president strongly supports" Jindal's candidacy and "looks forward to helping him become the next governor of Louisiana." As to a possible campaign visit on Jindal's behalf, Gross said that no decisions have been made.

Make no mistake, Jindal has been stressing his ties to the administration on talk radio over and over again for the last month, but when one of the most influential Republicans in the state's Washington delegation sends a message to the president to "stay in Washington," a year before his own election it could be one of the early hints of blood in the water. We'll see how this shapes up as the runoff progresses, but I certainly wish I heard more talk like this.

07 October 2003

Let it whither on the vine 

My Democratic friends need to take Kevin Drum's advice tonight and forget about this whole recall mess. There is nothing to gain by hitting the new governor of California with a recall to call his own. His election is clearly the will of the California voters, and trying to hit back would be a disaster for the party.

Calpundit suggests picking our fights, and he's absolutely right. There is nothing more demeaning than acting like a sore loser (just ask our friend Woody Jenkins from Louisiana), and a new recall would appear just that way. The actions of the legislators in Texas were inspiring, and their exile (despite their inability to end the redistricting battle) energized Democrats all over the country even if their efforts in their particular battle weren't successful. A recall would be unsuccessful and would sap money and energy needed to defeat George Bush in next year's election. The White House is the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

In the meantime, Dems around the country should gear up to win a southern governor's mansion. Baton Rouge is ripe for the pickin' and Dems would be wise to recognize this and organize their efforts in a state that could go either way for the presidency next year. It would be a great way to introduce some of our national candidates to the state and focus some Democratic energy on a race that they can win. (Didn't you know I was going to tie this into the governor's race somehow?)

California has a new governor 

At least it does if Drudge is to be trusted.

President of Loyola University New Orleans resigns amid charges of misconduct 

Father Bernard Knoth resigned his post this afternoon at Loyola according to The Picayune.

It seems that there are allegations of pedophilia that followed him from his last post in Chicago. The story is very unclear about the nature of the charges though. For readers that don't know I'm a graduate of Loyola and knew Fr. Knoth as well as most people around there. There had been lots of rumors around the school about homosexuality and young men spending lots of time with him, but they always seemed like rumors to me. I don't know how to respond to this except with shock. Also, this cannot be good for the image of a university that spent years trying to elevate itself as an institution to be respected in the region.

Updtate @ 6:04 pm:It seems that these allegations must have substantial credibility, but in Fr. Knoth's statement he denies the charges. You can read Fr. Knoth's statement here and the statement from the Chicago Province here.

Trent Lott will be the instructor for "History of the South" 

Via Tapped we learn that one of the National Review's fine advertisers is promoting a k-12 school that harkens back to "the good old days." Go check out all the white kids in the photo and ask yourelf what "good old days" they might be referring to. I expect that folks at The Corner to explain to us all that it's not about segregation at all, really it's just nostalgia for those easier times in the fifties before all the social upheaval associated with the decadent sixties and seventies. Nothing at all to do with segregation I'm sure.

Update @ 1:08 pm: Atrios has more about the history of Hillsdale Academy. That atrios sure has quite a memory. No wingers will be putting anything over on us while he's on the watch.

Shreveport's mayor is disappointed their won't be much action in north Louisiana 

There's an interesting article with lots of speculation about the campaign strategy for the governor's runoff this morning in The Shreveport Times.

The thrust of the article is that the north really isn't in play because it doesn't look like a particularly close election. I have a feeling the experts and most armchair analysts like myself are wrong about this though. I think that a lot of Randy Ewing's vote isn't just going to go to Blanco by default, and whichever candidate has the foresight to get the north early and woo their voters has a lot to gain. Read the article for yourself, but whatever the case we'll know for sure in a little more than a month.

Legislators use press club address to beat up on an old man 

Democratic house speaker Charles Dewitt and Republican Senate President John Hainkel addressed the press club yesterday to initiate the first shots across the bow in the never-ending power struggle between Louisiana legislators and the executive. The beleaguered DeWitt's job is in real trouble because of ethical questions over his connection to the New Orleans Fairgrounds and a recent high-profile vote regarding the racetrack. Blanco has already stated that she would support another candidate for speaker if the state ethics board makes a ruling against him.

So it's not surprising that DeWitt would be talking about a reduced role in the legislative process by the governor. Here's what they told the press club:

DeWitt noted that 59 House members, a majority of the House, will be barred by term limits from seeking re-election in four years and, therefore, will feel less pressured to follow the governor's requests in this term. DeWitt and Hainkel, R-New Orleans, are both term-limited in 2007.

"Whoever the leadership of the House is going to be, it's going to be more independent than ever before simply because of term limits," DeWitt said.

"The governor will have some influence . . . but I don't believe it will be as strong an influence as in the past," Hainkel said. "I don't think either one of them (Blanco or Jindal) will have the kind of influence some strong-armed governors have had. . . . I don't think the (next) governor will be as involved as past governors have been."

The men also used the time at the press club to beat up on defeated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Buddy Leach, accusing him of the old charge of buying votes. How did he buy votes, you might ask? He used his own money to pay canvassers and get out the vote workers. This is no different than what any other candidate for office does except Leach used his own money. Hainkel wouldn't lay off of him about it. It's not clear why he used the forum to bash someone who probably doesn't have much of a future in the state at this point, but he still went to town.

Failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Buddy Leach's effort to buy the votes of New Orleans' black residents didn't work, "to the credit of the people," state Senate President John Hainkel said Monday.
"I guess they thought it was an auction, not an election. I've never seen anything like it in my life. … the effort to buy minority votes," Hainkel said. "To their credit they didn't get involved. … That just didn't work, thank God."

Hainkel went on to denigrate the former candidate as "Mr. ATM," and suggested that canvassing black neighborhoods might be racist. Every time I read about these Baton Rouge Press Club meeting people are saying outrageous things, I wonder how I can get my hands on a ticket to one of their luncheons, it looks like it would be a grand old time.

Promoting the Louisiana economy 

We see two rare stories about new jobs and manufacturing contracts in Louisiana papers this morning. First the Shreveport Times informs us that full production of new Chevy trucks starts at the GM plant in Shreveport today. Also, The Picayune hits us with the news that NOLA based Textron Marine and Land systems inked a deal to be the exclusive US manufacturer of a popular (in the worlds' militaries at least) armored vehicle. The story isn't clear as to whether or not the machines will be produced in LA, but the company that got the contract bases it's operations in New Orleans, so all signs point to yes according to my "magic eight ball."

06 October 2003

Could this be the first national group to get involved in our dark corner of the country? 

All Children Matter is a political action committee that released news today (it's a word file if you don't want to wait for the slow upload) gloating over the fact that they defeated incumbent Senator Bill Jones from the 35th Senate district this weekend. The press release closes with the big hint that Jones isn't the last person in Louisiana that will receive pressure from this pro-voucher group.

“Perhaps if Bill Jones had decided to stand with mothers like Chantrelle Lowe instead of voting with the powerful special interests, he wouldn’t have to pack his bags to depart Baton Rouge,” said Brock. “Voting against school choice in Louisiana now carries with it a tremendous political price.”

Whether or not All Children Matter decides to get involved in the gubernatorial campaign remains to be seen, but a look at their chairman suggests that their agenda is certainly tied to partisan interests, so readers should understand who they are.

A quick google search on Dick DeVos reveals tons of useful information about the PAC's chairman. I expect to get a more lengthy post on the son of Amway founder Rich DeVos (Dick himself was president for quite a while and the target of numerous lawsuits). Dick's wife Betsy was also the chairman of the Michigan GOP and together they led a fight for vouchers in Michigan in early 2000. They seem to have dedicated their lives to vouchers programs all over the country, but their tactics and agenda have frequently been called into question.

For now I'll leave you with news that the capital bureau over at The Advocate could get excited about. The first result presented by Google directs you to The Hindu which bills itself as the "Online Edition of India's National Newspaper." Is this just a coincidence or could there be a connection somewhere between Jindal's aggressive fundraising from Indian-Americans and All Children First? I don't know just yet, but I'll be sure to let you know in the next couple of days. I hope the boys in Baton Rouge don't beat me to it though.

Takin' Care of Business 

Josh Marshall puts the Plame Affair into it's proper perspective after another weekend of misinformation by some of the GOP shills in the punditocracy.

This story won't go away until Bush fires the people responsible for the leak of Plame's status in the CIA. Is his now famous lack of interest in newspapers and news programming preventing him from understanding the potential damage to his administration this story could unleash as it continues to develop? Are his advisors hiding the truth from him? I can't think of a single reason not to send the leakers out the back door of the White House, but the President keeps waiting for the Justice Department to tell him who is responsible. I guess we'll all know soon enough.

Do the weekend's results signal what people want them to mean? 

That's the question Bill Decker asks in a very thoughtful column this morning that I wish I had written myself. Many observers both inside and outside of the state have expressed optimism that the days of the Old South are finally coming to an end in backwards Louisiana. Even both candidates mentioned what a great change it meant for the state to send a woman and an Asian-American into a runoff for our highest office. But in reality neither candidate received more than a third of the state's voters, so did anything really change or is this just the result of some sort of perfect storm of Louisiana electoral politics?

Decker writes:

Louisiana, the news stories said, showed the rest of the nation that we’ve put our Old South traditions of bigotry and exclusion behind us. The idea comforts a state so desperate to improve its image that the recent federal convictions of Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown and former Gov. Edwin Edwards were actually spun as positives. We’re cleaning up our infamous corruption, you see.

. . .

And when black Democrat Cleo Fields won a place in the 1995 runoff against white Republican Mike Foster, the results didn’t trumpet a new era of universal brotherhood.

The fact is that Louisiana’s open primary system, which puts everyone who qualifies for the campaign on the same ballot regardless of party, isn’t a good test of the state’s mood and intentions. The multicandidate primary is about who can attract 20 percent to 30 percent of the vote on one autumn Saturday.

The real barometer of popular sentiment is the runoff. That’s where Edwards sent Duke goose-stepping into political oblivion by a 3-to-2 margin in 1991. And it’s where, by roughly the same margin, Foster won the first of his two terms by beating Fields in 1995, showing that Louisiana wasn’t yet prepared to elect a black governor.

. . .

The other candidates in Saturday’s primary did themselves no favors.

Democrats Buddy Leach and Richard Ieyoub, and to a lesser extent Randy Ewing, engaged in an unsightly scramble for black support in New Orleans. As important as Orleans Parish votes are to Democrats, the aura of Big Easy street money and political machinery may have turned off voters elsewhere.

On the Republican side, Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman withdrew from the race in the final days. But first, he took a last swipe at Jindal. Blossman — more in sorrow than in anger, he said — played the ethnicity card by theorizing that Jindal can’t win a statewide runoff.

. . .

All that being said, it’s true that, barring a California-class political upheaval between now and Nov. 15, our next governor will be either a Republican of south-central Asian ancestry or a Democrat who would be the first woman to hold the job. Like a wino who pours his last bottle of Thunderbird down the drain, Louisiana voters have given themselves no choice but to make social progress.

That wino line is absolute poetry isn't it? With the national press that's sure to play up the new Louisiana after this California debacle finally comes to a close, it's good to get a little bit of sanity from a local observer.

Attacks depress black turnout, send Blanco to runoff 

On Monday that seems to be the consensus among state political watchers in their analysis of the weekend's results. It certainly does make sense to me. Leach and Ieyoub were pouring their advertising dollars into attacking each other's credibility among the state's African-American electorate instead of focusing on their own vision. If more black voters had gone to the polls this weekend we'd almost surely have a different candidate in the runoff facing Republican Bobby Jindal. Here are two stories making that point.

One interesting quote about poor black turnout came from this story:

Stonecipher said Leach apparently didn't get his money's worth for all the "street money" he paid to turn out black voters.

"A lot of people took Leach's money, but they didn't perform," Stonecipher said.

Stonecipher said former Gov. Edwin Edwards was famous for getting out the black vote.

"They loved Edwin Edwards, but they were also scared to death of him. But who's going to be scared to death of Buddy Leach when they know he's not going to be governor?" Stonecipher asked.

Stonecipher said State Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, was an exception and worked hard to get his constituents to the polls.

But, overall, black voter turnout statewide was disappointing, he said.

Rigamer said turnout in precincts with at least 80 percent African-American voters was roughly 44.2 percent. Precincts composed of at least 80 percent white voters had a 51.5-percent turnout, Rigamer said.

So infighting and lack of political power by Leach and Ieyoub resulted in their failure to get black voters to the polls. Blanco will need to do about as well as far as turnout goes since every indication suggests that Jindal has almost no support among African-Americans, but she should really try harder to hit traditional Democratic interest groups with the kind of under the radar tactics that Jindal used to court the conservatives in this race. Obviously there isn't a network of left-wing radio stations where she can get her message out, but she can certainly use direct mail and targeted campaign stops to achieve the same effect.

There are lots of good wrap-ups of the primary across the state. Use the links on the right to visit the different papers' websites to take a look at them.

Excusing my lazy ways 

Sorry about the lack of posting today. It was a busy day in the "prado" household with the Saints on television and a niece and nephew to entertain; I didn't find a lot of motivation to update the blog. Call it election fatigue or whatever, but it's my blog so I'll do what I want. Expect my normal frequency as Monday plugs away at the good mood created by the Democrat's outstanding showing in Louisiana over the weekend, although I suspect that I'll have to start shifting my attention to more national concerns since there will probably be a lull in the coverage of the governor's race over the next week (California anyone?).

For something that always brings a smile to my face for reasons I can't begin to understand, go check out what the folks at Simarena.com have to greet the visitors to their website. There is sound, so if you're at work you may want to turn down your speakers a bit (don't get reprimanded by overzealous bosses on my account).

05 October 2003

The morning after 

You can look at the results by parish for governor here if you're interested. Some parishes to take note of are Jefferson, Calcesieu, Vermillion, and of course, Orleans. If anything these parishes speak to a broad base that Blanco has going into the runoff, if she can get the voters who supported other Democrats to the polls for her in November she should be able to pull it off.

The two best papers in the state have their election recaps here and here. An article of note in The Advocate addresses Jindal's radio advertising and what it meant to his campaign. It pretty much says what I've been saying over the last two weeks (that Jindal has been pandering hard to the far right over talk-radio stations), but if you want to hear it from someone with some credibility go read Scott Dyer.

The Saints take the field in an hour, so I'll be engrossed in football for most of the afternoon. Their pitiful performance thus far into the season is slightly less unbearable after the events of last night, so maybe now that I don't care so much they'll pick up another victory.

Crow never tasted so good 

As a lot of you know I predicted a Jindal-Ieyoub runoff. I suspected that Ieyoub was polling significantly lower than he would draw to the polls, and I was mostly right about that, but I overestimated the discrepancy. For that I get to see the candidate I voted for in the runoff. What could be better? Also notice that the Mason Dixon numbers appear to be the most accurate when you figure the undecideds.

Here are the totals from the major races via Secretary of State Fox McKeithen:

Jindal-33 (441,954)
Blanco-18 (249,113)
Ieyoub-16 (223,025)
Leach-14 (187,138)
Ewing-9 (123,122)
Downer-6 (84,618)

Lt. Governor
Landrieu-53 (671,276)
Holloway-20 (250,328)
Schwegmann-17 (214,838)

Secretary of State
McKeithen-72 (909,123)
Donovan-22 (282,649)

Attorney General
Foti-54 (690,586)
Terrell-46 (599,104)

Insurance Commissioner
Wooley-37 (466,001)
Kyle-34 (423,909)
Fletcher-10 (130,424)
Fontenot-10 (124,654)

Ag and Forest Commissioner
Odom-66 (820,609)
Johnson-34 (429,993)

All in all it was a pretty good night for Democrats in Louisiana. Blanco probably needs to do a little more to inspire the voters, but I suspect that her campaign will change a little now that she's made it to the runoff. Whatever the case she seems to be sitting pretty in the runoff having run a clean campaign without pandering to any particular interest groups. Jindal can't make the same claim about pandering, and it could haunt him in the general. I'll get the major stories from our state dailies when I get back from church in the morning. Sleep well everyone.

It's over for Ieyoub 

WAFB declares that Kathleen Blanco will be in the runoff. I couldn't be happier tonight, so I'm going to Pete's to have some $1.25 longnecks. I'll get out all the hard data in a post tomorrow morning. Tonight we should celebrate though.

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