15 November 2003


I meant to link to this in an earlier post but lost my mind and forgot.

Here's the Secretary of State's page where you can get the results of the various races as they come in to his office.

This was swamped during the primary and very difficult to access, so if you have trouble I give my unqualified endorsement to the folks at WAFB and WBRZ in Baton Rouge; WWL-TV in NOLA; and if you're in Lafayette and subscribe to Cox Cable just watch the B.R. stations, they blow the Lafayette coverage out of the water. Otherwise watch Jimmy Clark on KLFY-TV 10. They are god-awful slow with their updates there, but Clark's a good guy who does well with analysis, and he lives around the block from me. Sorry to any readers in the northern part of the state, but I don't know jack about your television coverage up there. I continue to neglect the interests of everything in the state north of I-10. So sue me. Have a good night folks.

Young Democrats 

I'm just returning from my precinct where I did my civic duty. I voted for the following:

Gov-Kathleen Blanco
Ins. Commissioner-did not vote
City-Parish President (Lafayette)-Glenn Weber
Lafayette Parish Sheriff-Mike Neustrom
yes on a local bond issue (any lafayette readers want to fill me in on why this was snuck on to the ballot in the runoff instead of being included with the rest of our renewals during the primary. . .)

I brought along my two-year old niece who made up a song about Kathleen Blanco that is sung to the tune of Frere Jacques (spelling?). She sang all the way to the polls. I think she has already voted with both her parents, her grandmother and now me. She pulled the lever Blanco each time. There's nothing like getting to our children very young.

I get home to some encouraging news about the way the polls have shaped up for Blanco in the last night of the campaign and I'm ready to make a bold prediction (this is the kiss of death for my candidate). I expect Blanco to win this race by six points: 53-47. The media will be ready to call the race a Blanco victory by 10:30 at the latest. Keep in mind that I'm saying this against my better judgment (I'm terrified of jinxing things) and am furiously knocking on my desk right now.

I know I earned five or six readers during the primary night when I was updating my site every thirty minutes with the latest results from the Secretary of State's webpage. Unfortunately I won't be able to update tonight because I'll be watching returns away from my home base. I hope to get some posts up, but I'm not sure if it will be possible. I encourage anyone who is interested to use the comments to this post to exchange barbs about their candidates, make their own updates for numbers, or just talk about the race in general over the course of the night. And if you haven't voted yet, go take care of your damned business!

Saturday coverage 

Most of the coverage of the election in the papers this morning is dedicated to the last day on the stump for Bobby Jindal and Kathleen Blanco. There are some interesting stories and some good reporting if you folks are interested. Here's what the Advocate offered, and Gannett services had a story for each candidate.

Meanwhile the Picayune combines it's "this is a historic election" story with it's rundown of yesterday's campaigning. That's some efficient writing if I've ever seen it. Oh well, you guys know the drill by now. I just link to the stories. You read them.

Historic by default 

With the polls opening this morning there is very little substantive news about the governor's race in the newspapers around the state. Everyone seems to have gone to press with the perfunctory "this is a historic race" story due to the race and gender of the candidates competing for our votes.

An AP story filed from Amite that the Advertiser picked up brings us back down to earth this morning:

“Really, you got a foreigner and a woman. So, it’s a hard choice to make,” said James, the manager of a hardware store in this small town set amid pine trees near the Mississippi state line. “It’s different than it’s ever been.”

Louisiana, with its storied political past, is used to anomalies in politics. But the runoff in the governor’s race here today between Republican Bobby Jindal, the son of immigrants from India, and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, is testing old prejudices in a conservative Deep South state like never before.

. . .

In Amite, there are indications some will decide based on qualities other than the candidates’ platforms.

Lynda Cash, who runs a flea market, has heard the uncertainty, and it is disgruntled.

“These good ol’ boys around here, it’s like, ‘What am I gonna do, pick between a woman and an Indian?’ And I’m ashamed to say, ‘Yeah,’ ” Cash said, remembering what she had recently heard. “A lot of people around here, I’ve heard people say, ‘(Expletive) foreigner, but what are we gonna do, let a woman in there?’ ”

. . .

“I hate to say this, but he’s a what, different nationality?” said Tony Noto, a carpenter, referring to Jindal. He was wearing a cowboy hat, brim turned up, Louisiana-style, and he’s voting for Blanco. “Kathleen, that’s the one for me.”

Not so for Marty Laiche.

“I ain’t voting for the woman. I’m voting for the guy. I just can’t see a woman up there,” said Laiche, as he left the hardware store.

Of course this is hardly scientific sampling, so take it for the anecdotal evidence that it is. I also tend to think that an AP reporter trying to get a story picked up by newspapers across the country may find it in his interest to portray Louisianians as a bunch of redneck chauvinists and racists, so I'm sure the reporter probably dug around to put this story together.

But that doesn't mean I don't think these attitudes aren't strong among a certain part of the electorate in this state. There are plenty of people who won't vote for a woman or a "foreigner" for governor. It's a sad fact of life all over the country; one that's probably more pronounced down here in our corner. The truly sad thing is that in a close race (which this is shaping up to be) the prejudices of a few could decide the whole thing.

Strange Brew 

Regular readers of Timshel know that I went to Downtown Alive for the sole purpose of seeing Kathleen Blanco shut down her campaign. I expected a rousing speech to the Acadiana faithful imploring us to get to the polls early and often to support the Lt. Governor's candidacy.

Instead I conned some friends who are Jindal supporters into going downtown for beer and a band. They were not happy when we waited about thirty minutes while nothing happened. According to the public schedule provided by bayoubuzz.com Ms. Blanco was supposed to give her speech around 5:30 in the afternoon.

Needless to say that didn't happen.

During the early part of the evening there was very little crowd milling about the DTA area. It was pretty clear that the Lt. Governor was waiting for more people to show up before she addressed the onlookers. When an hour or so went by and the crowd still hadn't completely formed, Kathleen Blanco decided to gather the people who were there to see her (about a hundred people versus the four hundred or so there to drink beer and watch a no name band) behind her while she addressed a few NOLA television station cameras. I managed to squeeze my way in and wish her luck.

After a few beers I got my courage up to approach some people in the campaign. I shook some hands and asked some questions. The most helpful person I talked to was John Smith, who is US Congressman Chris John's father.

We had a nice conversation. I asked what turned the poll numbers around for Kathleen Blanco, and he answered advertising. I asked him if his son would be the next senator from Louisiana and he avoided my inquiry. Whatever. . . It was good to talk to him anyway.

He said he wasn't confident about what would happen tomorrow, but he had a much better feeling tonight than he did a week ago. He was also particularly strident in his anti-Jindal rhetoric. He called Jindal a fraud about four or five times during the ten minutes we talked to each other.

I had fun, but I wish the Blanco folks would have publicized this event. It could have been a great gathering of Acadiana-area Blanco supporters. Instead it was a bunch of yahoos scrambling to get their mugs in the statewide news shots. Dear God I can't wait until this is over.

If anyone has any suggestions for a focus for Timshel next week, now would be a good time to start telling me.

14 November 2003

I think I've heard this before 

"-- The White House said Friday that U.S. troops would remain in Iraq until Saddam Hussein is killed or captured."

reported by John King at CNN

Didn't Bush already say something like that about this guy?

Food, Beer, Music, and Grandmothers 

If you read this blog and you're in the Lafayette area, Lt. Governor Kathleen Blanco is going to be ending her campaign blitz with a speaking engagement kicking off the final night of the Downtown Alive fall session. The music will be provided by the Hard Heads, and as always there is plenty of food and drink. I'll be the guy with a Jansport full of Miller High Life trying my damndest not to smoke any cigarettes.

Who said the youth of America were skewing Repbulican? 

I linked to this story in the T-P in an earlier post, but neglected to quote the best part of the story. I wish these kids were old enough to vote:

Outside on St. Charles Avenue, a group of middle school students from James Singleton Charter School, named for the former city councilman who has endorsed Jindal, expressed their dismay at Singleton's cross-party endorsement.

"See, he's for Jindal -- he's not on our side," said Tymeceon Bass, a seventh-grader who added that she and her classmates had just finished a research project on the governor's race.

"We did a poll at our school, and Jindal only got about two votes, and she had beaucoup, like the whole school," classmate Romisha Morris said.

Blanco emerged from the building and commended the students for their Democratic loyalty. "Did you write him a letter?" she joked of Singleton's endorsement of Jindal.

I think it's time for me to move back to New Orleans.

Here's your stinkin' proof 

Bobby Jindal wanted proof that Republicans don't want blacks to vote.

Here's some more.

And if you forgot, this is what the GOP did in Mississippi last week.

And in Kentucky. . .

and don't forget about Louisiana during the Senate race last year.

Maybe Jindal should prove that the GOP actually wants blacks to vote.

Advocate full of love for LA 

Leave it to Louisiana to find a way to upstage California's gubernatorial race.
The outcome of the October primary perhaps wasn't quite as bizarre as the California recall-election in which Republican action-movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger won the job from Democrat Gray Davis.

But the Louisiana race is garnering attention from around the nation again for several reasons, not the least of which is each candidate's noticeable absence of personal or political foibles.

That's Chris Gautreau's lede from a story on the front page of today's Advocate.

Even if he does get a little over-exuberant with those first few lines, this is a pretty good overview of why this election can be a special one for Louisiana, and it has less to do with the race and gender of the candidates than it does with their reputations of integrity and good government. I guess it's a little sad that here in Louisiana political observers have grown enamored with the candidates specifically because they're not corrupt and not because they are offering much more than that. Talk about your lowered expectations.

Just go read it.

The final day 

The newspapers around the state spill a lot of ink over the last days of the campaign for both candidates. The Advocate posts separate stories on Jindal and Blanco, focusing on Blanco's events in City Park in New Orleans and a Jefferson Parish meeting with local politicians and businessmen. Their Jindal story looks at a Monroe stop with NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip.

Without reading any other stories about this I felt like the campaigns were using their resources ineffectively over the last days. The Baton Rouge reporters paint pictures of the stumping as sparsely attended affairs that weren't particularly exciting.

This is a stark contrast to what Picayune writers Jan Moller and Brian Thevenot describe in their report on the same events.

Compare this from NOLA:

The City Park event drew several elected officials, including U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, Lt. Gov.-elect Mitch Landrieu and New Orleans City Councilman Marlin Gusman.

"Don't fall for the Jindal swindle," Gusman told a crowd of about 100 people. He noted that Jindal has "spent three or four years of the 10 adult years he's had" living and working outside the state.

to this from Baton Rouge:

One rally set for a pavilion at 6 p.m. in City Park drew next to no supporters. A sound system played tunes, and ranks of yard signs rested against the pavilion's columns. A cold breeze blew across the empty concrete floor.

By 6:45 p.m., a gospel combo sang for about three dozen supporters who straggled in, including Democrats U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her brother, Lt. Gov.-elect Mitch Landrieu.

Meanwhile Jindal spends a few hours in a Winnebago to get to an event in Monroe that only has about a hundred people. I understand the importance of getting to your core supporters and making sure they are energized to work for you on election day, but it seems like in today's age of instant media and electronic organizational tools that a savvy politician could do a lot more to draw supporters to his/her events in the last days of a campaign. Hell I do very little other than look for election news most days, and I would have likely gone out to see Jindal when he was in Lafayette yesterday if I would have known anything about it. I still won't vote for him, but I would have liked to go out to the park and hear his stump speech. If he comes back today I'll go out and count the number of times he says "old-time political machine" in one speech.

13 November 2003

I thought he was a lawyer 

Brandon and Brenda's dad pens a column about the creeping ubiquity of sub-headings in newspaper articles. I'll tell you that he's not very happy about it, and I wouldn't link to it if I didn't feel the same way.

I don't mind them so much in print, but they are terribly distracting online. The Picayune uses them all the time. Their layout really annoys me to no ends because the subheaders usually aren't bolded or set off from story in any particular way. They just look like words hanging there for no apparent reason. I think it's driving me mad.

No respect 

Sorry to any Daily Kos readers who found there way over here only to read about the New Orleans Saints, but you're on my turf now, so deal with it. If gubernatorial race news is what you want, you'll just have to scroll on down.

Instead I'm using this space to bring something of utmost importance to your attention. It looks like one of the greatest outside linebackers in NFL history is being shafted in the Hall of Fame voting. My brother lifted this comment off a message board at Saintsreport.com and sent it to me. I've cut and pasted the whole thing because I'm pretty upset about it, and this guy says it best:

One cannot help but note the exclusion of Rickey Jackson.

The inclusions of Ray Guy, Steve Tasker and Ken Stabler are somewhere
between sad and laughable. Guy and Tasker were once-in-a-while players,
and Guy got a lot of pub because he was a first-round pick, but probably
wasn't the best punter of even his generation, and Tasker's overall football
ability, and thus his role, was so limited that considering him for the
Hall is an insult to the hundreds of great every down players who were too
valuable to exhaust as gunners on coverage teams but would have done
just as well. If he had played for any team but one that went to four Super
Bowls, he would be Fred McAfee.

Stabler somehow parlayed six fairly decent seasons of throwing to guys
like Branch, Biletnikoff and Casper into people thinking he was an all-time
great. By the time he left the Raiders, he was done and playing out the
string, and made worse the two teams he went to.

Which, of course, brings us to Harry Carson. Can somebody please
explain to me how he was a clearly better and more productive player, for both the peak and the broad arc of their respective careers, than Rickey Jackson? Why is it that when you're on the Giants, being a member of a great defense means you must be a great player, but when you're on a smaller-market team being on a great defense means you were just part of a great defense? If this guy gets in and Rickey Jackson does not, which I expect will be the case, I may even have to go to Canton to picket. And they wonder why "fly-over America" HATES, I mean HATES, the nobility who live in the major media markets enjoying the divine right of kings.

Jim Henderson was wrong. There is no God.

Saints fans know what he's talking about. . .

Trend confirmed? 

Thanks to Frank M. in comments who directs us to this poll news from the Blanco campaign:

According to the Blanco campaign, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Bobby Jindal are tied at 44 percent, "based on the average of the last two nights of polls conducted by the Verne Kennedy - Market Research Insight polling company."

The Blanco campaign claims that "additionally, the poll of 200 people taken on Wednesday night showed Blanco with 44 percent and Jindal with 41 percent. There were 15 percent undecided."

That news is courtesy of bayoubuzz. There should be more to come later though.

Update @ 5:40 pm : John Hill's next story for Gannett news services on Kennedy's polling numbers that will be in tomorrow's print edition . These stories usually appear online here or here before the end of the day, so check in if you want confirmation. Anyway, here's the relevant text cut and pasted for your benefit:

The governor¹s race narrowed to a four-point gap, a
dramatic shift as Republican Bobby Jindal dropped three points and Democrat
Kathleen Blanco rose two points in Verne Kennedy¹s tracking poll out Thursday morning.

The poll trends led Kennedy to say the race is becoming too close to

. . .

"It's enough to be called a trend. It's still 46-42, but when you
adjust the African-American vote to take the undecided African-American vote
to give it to the Democrat, this race is around 1 percent. That¹s too
close to know," Kennedy said.

Jindal's black support slipped from 11 percent to 7 percent, with undecided blacks at 21 percent while 72 percent of blacks supported Blanco. Among whites, Jindal led with 60 percent to 31 percent. Among men, Jindal led 52 percent to 38 percent, but Blanco led among women 45 percent to 41

The story seems to attribute a huge surge to Blanco after the debate last night. That means those assholes poly-sci students at LSU don't speak for the rest of the voters, which is good news.

Politics in the age of television and big money 

I guess that's a pretty ambitious title, but don't worry I won't try to over-extend myself here. I meant to post this earlier this morning but it slipped my mind after I went through all my emails.

Anyway, yesterday Michael directed me to this column in a comment to one of my posts. The post describes a forum hosted by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) at the First Unitarian Church in Baton Rouge. Oh well, I'll let John Dupont speak for himself:

Those who wondered where candidates in the gubernatorial runoff stood on environmental issues got a firm answer Monday night.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) hosted a political forum scheduled to include input from gubernatorial hopefuls Bobby Jindal and Kathleen Blanco.

The only element missing: the two candidates.

Just hours before organizers were to get the event underway at the First Unitarian Church in Baton Rouge, they got word neither candidate would show up.

I attended the forum hoping not only to hear both candidates spar in person, but to listen to their agenda on the state's environmental needs.

Jindal reportedly told organizers he would not attend the forum unless at least two television stations showed up at the event.

No candidate wants to waste valuable campaign time in the waning period before the election. But how could Jindal consider this unworthy of his time?

Blanco reportedly no-showed to attend a campaign fundraiser in Houston.

That's funny. I thought Houston was in Texas. Isn't she running for governor of Louisiana?

Maybe the forum did not originate from a television station or the convention hall of a swanky New Orleans hotel. But considering the environmental issues facing the state, it's hard to understand why they didn't deem this forum worthy of their time.

Dupont goes on to compile a litany of environmental problems that Governor Foster has not addressed in his two terms in office that will continue to weigh heavy on the economic and public health concerns of our state.

But Dupont isn't the only writer who laments the days when candidates used to address issues with voters. Over at Bayoubuzz today Stephen Sabludowski lets out his own yawp against the way television has corrupted the political process.

Now thanks to the way the television media control debate formats and the audiences, and due to the lack of free flow discussion, we’re left with a masquerade of a campaign, with little substance and the electorate in a frenzy supporting candidates that are more ready for Rex than hard choices..

It's nothing new to have pundits cry about soundbite politics at election time, but it needs to be discussed anyway. It's bad enough when the two candidates for governor don't find it worth their time to discuss possible solutions or plans to address the environmental problems in one of the dirtier states in the country, but it's much worse when voters stop being outraged about it.

Polls are killing me 

I've noticed lots of defeatist talk (and have been engaging in quite a bit of it myself) over the last week about this election. Most of it has occurred over at Daily Kos, where there seems to be a general sense of dread for Democrats in Louisiana. The barrage of polling data from Verne Kennedy has been a big source of this dread.

Anyway, I just wanted to let the partisans like me out there know that it's not all bad news nowadays. There was the SLU poll which submitted vastly different numbers than Kennedy has been showing us. Aslo, there's this story about the latest round of Kennedy numbers. Basically it says Jindal is still leading by nine points, but Blanco surged on the last tracking day in the sample.

But the overnight numbers Tuesday indicated there might be the beginning of a shift back to Blanco, Kennedy said Wednesday afternoon.

The rolling sample of 600 taken Saturday, Monday and Tuesday nights pegged it at 48.7 percent for Jindal and 39.5 percent for Blanco.

The numbers for each night’s sample of 200 were as follows: Jindal was 47.5 percent on Saturday, 52.1 percent on Monday and 46.5 percent on Tuesday night. Blanco was 37.8 percent on Saturday, 37.3 percent on Monday and 43.3 percent on Tuesday.

Now this is no reason to celebrate, and both Kennedy and the Jindal campaign downplayed the significance of the Tuesday numbers, but there is always room for optimism in la casa de Prado.

Particularly since I'm hearing some informed speculation around the Internet that new poll numbers due for release could confirm that the race is tightening. If it's true that's great news. Especially since the weather is supposed to be good Saturday, and that means good things for turnout, where the Democratic Party plans to spend beaucoup bucks in the communities that support Democrats.

Anyway, things aren't all bad this morning. "You got to keep ya head up"

Not all Pakistani-Americans disapprove of Jindal. 

A while back I noted that the Pakistani American Congress endorsed Kathleen Blanco. Now it appears that not all Pakistanis are concerned about Kashmiri politics playing out in Louisiana and some have come out and endorsed the Indian-American running for governor of our fair state.

A. Rahman Bhatti, former president of the New Orleans American-Pakistani Community, noted that New Orleans Pakistani-Americans held a fund-raiser for Jindal in September that raised $15,000. "We support Mr. Jindal because we believe him to be the best candidate for the governorship, not because of his ethnicity or religion," Bhatti said.

[heartwarming music]With India and Pakistan always on the brink of crisis, it's nice that some of their state's children who immigrated here can put aside their differences for the sake of Louisiana.[/heartwarming music]

Debate roundup 

Along with the link to the earlier story about LSU students watching the debate, you can find more detailed accounts of the meeting from Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Both report shows a more cordial meeting though accentuated with some differences on issues. Both stories point to Blanco's account of her defining moment as the death of her son Ben while tearing up a barge on a dockyard. The papers note that she was near tears. Jindal names his as the moment "Christ found me."

Since these are the only truly new aspect of the election discussed in these stories, I'll leave my account there. Also I didn't see the debate, so I don't exactly feel comfortable adding much more.

The Advocate also reports on the money Blanco took from "an industry she regulated" while on the PSC. I don't think this story would have been something to even report on if Blanco had just answered the question correctly in the debate on Monday. Instead once again she makes a misstatement (a lie?) in a debate about something that's easily researched and then it goes into the paper for an extra two days while she discusses why she didn't give the correct answer in the first place. Here's the lede:

Despite her comments to the contrary Monday, Democrat Kathleen Blanco collected campaign contributions from at least one firm she helped oversee when she ran for the Public Service Commission, records show.
Blanco said she cannot recall details of the issue.

Bob Mann, a spokesman for the campaign, said the contributions were so small and so long ago -- 1988 -- that the gist of Blanco's comments were true.

With the constant drip-drip of stories like these it's a wonder Blanco was ever elected into any office ever before. Her campaign seems to have picked things up over the last couple of weeks, but it looks they are in a two steps forward/one step back mode right now. That's not enough to get it done in these last days. Meanwhile Jindal runs a disciplined campaign, constantly controlling the message of the day, and he has the press fawning over his sharp mind and clean, energetic candidacy. I may not like Jindal very much, but he is undeniably the better candidate of these two. From the looks of things, that's not saying much.

College students prove they are more uninformed than the general population 

Otherwise these two stories from The Advertiser wouldn't show such strong support for Jindal. Sorry, there had to be some way to spin these very discouraging stories about the support Jindal has found on the LSU and UL campi (-uses doesn't work does it?)

First Mike Hasten reports on a political science class at LSU that watched the debate together last night. This isn't exactly a representative focus group, but at least I can get a perception of the debate from people who don't clearly want my choice to win. When the students aren't quoted fawning over Jindal, they're busy blasting Blanco. In that way it's a lot like the coverage of the candidates in the state press.

“Jindal smoked her,” said Darrell Kropog of Hammond, summing up the feelings of many of his classmates. “You can tell he thinks even faster than he talks because he never paused” in his answers.

. . .

Amber Williams of Opelousas said Jindal “answered the questions better. She was babbling a lot, and I kind of felt sorry for her when the guy moderating the debate kept telling her to answer the questions.”

“It’s funny how she claims not to be asking people to vote for her because she’s woman, yet she said that four times,” said Carter LeBlanc, a female student from Houma.

The students did seem to give credit for Blanco questioning Jindal's record on health care, but there are no snappy quotes for that, so you'll just have to go read it for yourself.

Meanwhile, here in my hometown, UL students overwhelmingly supported Bobby Jindal in a poll taken by journalism students of likely voters who attend the university. In a strange bit of opinion mongering the student pollsters explained the results of their survey and then proceeded to bash both candidates.

The results show Jindal with 56.4 percent of the vote to Blanco’s 28.2 percent, with another 12.8 percent indicating they are undecided.

Blanco’s connection to UL Lafayette — her husband, Raymond, is vice president of student affairs — doesn’t seem to be helping her among students.

Durio said one student told her Jindal is an eloquent speaker. “Maybe some people are impressed by that. He talks like a politician to me.”

“And he’s backed by a lot of money,” said Jaime Guillet, another journalism student and pollster. “Those people come calling when they’re elected.”

Joy Ashlyn Smith, a journalism student and pollster, said she supports Jindal because of his platform. “Blanco seems like a PTA mom to me,” she said.

But Jindal is “a baby kisser” who drags his daughter into photographs, Guillet said. “He is the politician to me and I don’t trust that.”

I'm glad seventy percent of these students won't be voting come Saturday.

12 November 2003

Shake it like a polaroid picture. 

I've decided not to stop watching tonight's debatathon on C-SPAN until one of the Senators makes reference to a top forty song or the latest Outkast hit comes on newly added Lafayette Cox Cable channel Mtv2. I could be up all night.

Or I'll just go to bed now.

To get a picture of why web polls are absolutely stupid, go check out what's happened with the poll over at Bill Frist's website through the hard work and sacrifice of Eschaton readers.

Maybe we need to get the folks at Eschaton involved in Blanco GOTV efforts.

Save the last dance for me 

Don't forget the last debate between the Louisiana gubernatorial candidates is tonight at 7:00 pm on your local CBS affiliate. I'll only be able to see a little bit of it because of some other engagements, so I won't post any impressions. Anyone who does see it should feel free to post theirs in comments.

I wonder if he keeps a staff in the bathroom at Arnold's. 

I'll take Greg's word for it when he says Sen. John Kerry has jumped the shark with this stunt.

Correct your headline 

2theAdvocate.com runs this headline this afternoon:

Governor loses deputy press secretary to Iraq conflict

Don't be alarmed if you thought the press secretary died though, he was only called up to duty and will leave at the end of the week. That's the kind of confusion news organizations should do their damndest to avoid.

On the ligher side, is anyone else being denied access to politicsLA.com or is it just me? I'm hoping I haven't been banned from their site for some reason their webmaster has chosen not to share with me.

Update @ 3:22 pm: all is well at politicsLA; it seems I was just paranoid and they were having some trouble with their website. Apparently it was related to their posting the results of a new poll conducted for their website which shows Jindal leading Blanco by nine points. The complete numbers and methodology are supposed to be here, but they don't appear to be available yet; it's just a blank screen. It's a .pdf, so if you don't have Adobe Acrobat, or you are on a slow modem you may want to reconsider before clicking on the link.

Flier flap 

Will Sentel reports on the quote mentioned in Monday's debate that was so upsetting to Bobby Jindal and Donna Vanchiere (pronounced Van-cherry in the debate if you're interested), the widow of the man quoted. Blanco apologized for the state Democratic Party and said she couldn't control them. But, in the end it looks like the only reason the Ms. Vanchiere was upset was because she supports Bobby Jindal. The quote doesn't seem to be taken out of context and is pretty clearly critical of Bobby Jindal. See for yourself:

The story touched on Jindal's tenure as secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, including efforts to rein in Medicaid costs.

The story said this: "I was glad when he left the state," said Charles Vanchiere, president of the group representing Louisiana's pediatricians. "He had his marching orders … to get money out of Medicaid, which he did. But he did not have the life experience to understand … the effects of budgets on human misery."

The Democratic flier sent to voters last weekend uses this part of the Vanchiere quote: "I was glad when he left the state. … He did not have the life experience to understand … the effects of budgets on human misery."

I didn't add any of those ellipses, so use your own judgment as to what's missing. It certainly seems like the quote was taken directly out of The Post's story and used in context. I personally don't think it's wrong to use a dead person's words if they are established in the public record, which these clearly are. The woman seems to be mad because she doesn't want to believe her husband had unkind things to say about the horse she has in this race. It's terrible that she is now a widow, but the Democratic Party didn't do anything wrong with this flier.

However, the flyer describing Jindal's position on abortion is probably demagoguery of the worst kind. When the Prado household received the mailout over the weekend we all grimaced. I don't think much of it because these are the kinds of things that both parties do all the time. They usually don't become stories because they are only meant to go to partisans and are used to encourage people to go to the polls. Energizing the party base on both sides involves some pretty ugly political tactics, and this is a demonstration of that kind of nastiness. I think it says more about the political process than it does about the Louisiana Democratic Party though.

Pour some sugar on me 

Advocate agriculture correspondent Patrick Courregges puts the candidate's sugar talk into perspective this morning. It's a good column that describes in a little more detail exactly why the next governor and our current Senators really have very little input on whether or not sugar cane is on or off the table in the pending CAFTA dealing.

Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom said the answer one gets on whether the sugar tariff is on the table in talks on the Central American Free Trade Agreement depends upon whom in Bush's administration is being asked.

Odom said Bush's political advisers say sugar is off the table, while Bush's policy types say it's on in the regional deal with five Central American countries.

. . .

If sugar talks are happening in the deal that's expected to be done by mid-December, Louisiana's delegation would have a say in the CAFTA agreement, but only to vote it up or down. Once it goes to Congress, specific points aren't negotiable.

Odom said that one thing might work in Louisiana's favor in the worries about sugar -- another election.

Bush is up for re-election in 2004, and if he's sufficiently worried about his competition, he might be thinking about currying political favor in Louisiana, Odom said.

Louisiana could get some help from other states on that. One of the other states where sugar matters is Florida, where the narrow margin by which Bush took the presidency was decided in 2000.

In other words the rhetoric by our local politicians pandering to sugar interests in the state carries very little weight. Protections for favored industries in the nation always have everything to do with politics on the national level and almost nothing to do with local economic needs outside of whether or not they will affect the President's chances at reelection. I have no problem with that, but a president trying to pretend he believes in the principles of free trade is kind of silly when he is so craven about picking up votes at every turn.

On the campaign trail 

Jindal defended his record yesterday; claiming that the criticisms on television and during the debates are a distortion of the record by people who don't want to talk about the issues. It's funny, but I thought health care was one of the most important issues going in to this election. Is it obvious I've grown tired of this refrain to stick to the issues from Bobby Jindal?

Updated: The Pic provides a better case for Jindal, including the news of a press release blaming Medicaid changes and a good economy on the shrinking rolls and cuts during Jindal's tenure.

Jindal's defense came during campaign stops in Lafayette and Lake Charles yesterday, where he celebrated Veteran's day and tried to win new voters.

That last link also include some news about Kathleen Blanco's trip to the oilfields to convince the men and women working in the industry to support her candidacy. A more detailed account of that trip is availabe at 2theadvocate.com. In that story we learn that Rep. Chris John--the Democrat from my neck of the woods--has the weight to at least direct two voters to the polls for Blanco.

The story also describes a meeting with failed candidate for governor Buddy Leach. Blanco met with the rich Democrat in private, supposedly to discuss how to get out the vote on election day. I suppose it could be a signal that Leach will put some money into the effort, but that's only speculation on my part. Judging by the polls though, it will have to take an outstanding effort on the ground on election day to put Blanco in the Governor's Mansion.

Updated @ 9:50 am

11 November 2003

Dept. of solipsism 

From The Onion

Mom Finds Out About Blog

In a turn of events the 30-year-old characterized as "horrifying," Kevin Widmar announced Tuesday that his mother Lillian has discovered his weblog.

. . .

Upon receipt of the e-mail, Widmar mentally raced through the contents of his blog. He immediately thought of several dozen posts in which he mentioned drinking, drug use, casual sex, and other behavior likely to alarm his mother.

. . .

"Mom had a fit when she found out that I put my television on my credit card," Widmar added. "If she reads about how I was with my friend Jayson when he got pulled over for drunk driving, I'll never hear the end of it."

Every now and then you just come across a little glimpse of genius and need to pass it on.

Jindal's lead widens 

A friend tells me that Jindal has opened up his lead to eleven points in the latest numbers from Verne Kennedy's tracking poll. This is supposedly according to a report on WAFB's noon broadcast. They don't have a report up yet, but I'll post it as soon as I see it. Until then you might check in at these Gannett papers where John Hill usually has a story posted by the end of the afternoon. I thought that Kathleen Blanco's ad blitz would at least slow the Jindal train down if not turn it all the around, but the idea that he might be picking up speed totally shocks me.

Update @ 2:19 pm: the lead reported by WAFB appears to be eight points, which is more manageable. Still not online though. Link added at 4:50 pm.

I want a Taiwan source 

Is the Bush family charging foreign leaders for access to the presidential family? TPM has the beginnings of what could be a very interesting story. And why does Josh Marhsall have multiple "Taiwan sources"?

Blanco loves homos 

I was curious a couple of weeks ago how Kathleen Blanco had earned the unqualified support of gay groups when she didn't seem to be offering anything to the gay community that was any different from Bobby Jindal.

It turns out that she has been very accomadating to the needs of these groups, and I commend her for that. Apparently she promised the LA League for Equality that she would veto legislation that banned adoption by same sex couples and would issue an executive order that ended discrimination against gays in state government. These positions directly contradict answers Blanco gave in response to a questionnaire by the LA Family Forum.

Blanco explained the discrepancy:

Blanco said her responses to the conservative group were prepared by a staffer and should not have been sent.

"She indicated that she began completing the . . . questionnaire, but once she realized the number of anti-gay discriminatory references contained in the survey, she put it aside and decided against submitting it," the memo says. "Later on, a well-meaning staff person completed and submitted the survey without her knowledge or consent."

First of all let me say that I'm glad that Blanco has changed her tune about how her government would approach issues involving gay rights. However this story can't be good for her. It appears that she tried to have it both ways with two different groups and got caught. She very clearly never tried to set the record straight regarding the Family Forum questionnaire to the press. I understand that this is an issue of political expediency, since unfortunately coming out strongly in favor of things like same-sex adoption and simple anti-discrimination laws for the GLT community would probably hurt her in this state. I don't know if this story has any kinds of legs or if it will just fall by the wayside, but I don't see it being helpful to Blanco's candidacy no matter how much I agree with it.

Save it for the governor's race 

The Advocate editorial board has been conspicuously devoid of strong opinions about the governor's race, but now they've found room to weigh in on the early primary battles going on for president. Today they once again remind me how out of the mainstream I am in opinion in the south.

Before I go any farther I should explain that from following the presidential race somewhat closely over the last few months that I have been very impressed with Al Sharpton. I've found him to be a much better behaved candidate than conventional wisdom would have us believe. He makes good points; frequently keeps the Dems on message during the debate; and generally hasn't been the demagogue everyone makes him out to be.

This editorial rightly stands up for Howard Dean's clumsy attempt to explain why it's important for Democrats to pursue the votes of southern whites "confederate flags on their pickups." They say that he was a victim of political correctness, which is probably part of the problem. But boy, this paper really hates Al Sharpton. Take a gander:

Dean compounded the offense against the politically correct by refusing in the debate to cravenly apologize to the likes of Al Sharpton, another candidate and a racial demagogue. However, after a couple of days of media attention to this nonissue, Dean threw in the towel and issued a statement saying he's sorry for any "pain" he has caused.

. . .

To be the target of Sharpton's jabs may be unpleasant, but it's better than agreeing with a notorious liar -- as so many of Sharpton's fellow candidates did.

I guess Sharpton's bid for the presidency hasn't helped his credibility among southern whites just yet.

Roy Fletcher could run my campaign any day 

Unfortunately Chris Fink and Scott Dyer's report of political consultant Roy Fletcher's trip to the Press Club of Baton Rouge is not available online at 2TheAdvocate.com

I'm not quite sure why they didn't post it, but I'll implore you to read the story in the print edition if you have access to it. Essentially Fletcher wonders where all the negative campaigning is coming from. He compiled a video of the campaign commercials and did some running commentary that seems to have been pretty funny.

"I'd like to be real excited about this campaign but. . . I can truthfully say that this is the dullest I've ever seen," Fletcher said.

After his talk, Fletcher questioned the legitimacy of Jindal using commentary from an Internet site as something from the media in the same ad it quotes major daily newspapers and wire services.

"How can you quote that?" Fletcher said. "It's slanted, ideological claptrap."

Fletcher also had some advice for Blanco that seems sound to me:

She needs to differentiate herself from her opponent, while convincing her core voters--including the state's African Americans--to get out and vote.

I he were running the Blanco media campaign, Fletcher said he would be more "smash mouth."

Under his guidance, Blanco ads would tie Jindal to Foster and his policies and President Bush and his policies, Fletcher said.

The whole thing is pretty good. It's on page 7A for those folks who get this paper every day.

Debate headlines 

Here are the stories from around the state on last night's debate:

Latest debate brings out new death penalty issue John Hill wrote this one and it touches on most of the major issues that came up in the debate. It's short but a good account of the tone of the debate. No one really said anything new, so Hill doesn't try to make issues where none exist.

Edwards' ghost haunts debate Scott Dyer and Will Sentell must have been desperate for a story after last night's somewhat bland debate to lede with this. Both candidates staked out essentially the same opinion about Edwards in the debate and then moved on. The cloud of Edwards' legacy in Baton Rouge did not hang over this debate for more than one question's worth of time. I don't know how I would have led, but I doubt it would have been with Edwards.

Ed Anderson and Jan Moller are still trying to sell a dirty race, but do admit to toned down rhetoric: Candidates still on the attack This is the most comprehensive piece I've seen about the debate, and it calls into question Blanco's claim in response to a question about her stint on PSC that she didn't accept donations from firms she would regulate until she was running for Lt. Governor.

If you're interested in someone else's word you can go check out these stories, otherwise you know I would never lead you astray, so you can just trust me, kind of like you can trust Fox and Friends in the morning.

Impressions from tonight's debate 

Don't let the newspapers fool you tomorrow into believing tonight was a hate-fest between the candidates. Blanco and Jindal were surprisingly civil to one another after the last three weeks of vitriol that has circulated through press releases and state party attack mechanics.

I think Blanco continues to perform better in the one on one debates than she has in the festival seating free-for-alls of the primary. She stuck to a message of platitudes tonight (this has admittedly been the focus of her whole campaign) and sidestepped a few chances to really stick it to Bobby J. The format was more appealing than some other debates since it didn't stick to one issue and allowed the candidate to rebut their opponent. I've obviously got a horse in this race so take the rest of what I have to say with a grain of salt.

There is a smugness about Jindal that I can't get over. I don't feel like he has even the most tenuous connection to people of any socioeconomic or racial background. He foists his conservative values on the voters at every step, but as some commenters on this site have made very clear, it never seems sincere. This generally doesn't matter to me (hell, I voted for Al Gore in the last presidential election), but since I don't share his politics I don't see any reason to vote for him. I imagine his votes come from a general sense around Louisiana that he offers something new to this state even if I don't think there is anything new in any of his position statements. Anyway, this smugness came out loud and clear to me tonight. I don't know how many non-partisans felt that way though.

Blanco restated the offensive death penalty rhetoric that I chided her for earlier this morning. Here's a memo to the Blanco campaign: you don't need to restate your conservative credibility; everyone in the state recognizes that you're a moderate. Now you need to pick up the votes of the people that are sitting on my side of the aisle that don't have very many reasons to vote for you at this point.

If I had to name a winner I'd call it a draw. At the very least Blanco stalled some of the unfair criticisms that she has been a candidate running a negative campaign, but I don't think she did much to reassure hardened Democrats like myself to get out to our precincts to vote for her on Saturday. Jindal continues to push his "earnest go-getter" image which has been part of runoff strategy from the beginning. In the end I doubt the effectiveness of these debates because I really doubt that there are that many people who actually tune in who might be swayed by their performances.

As a sidebar, Mary over at NakedFurniture has her own observations about the effect of race on this election:

I really don't think a lot of people see Bobby Jindal (who is Indian-American) as "nonwhite." Honestly. I was raised, in a semi-rural southern part of the state, to see only "blacks"--black people--and "whites"--everyone else. There just wasn't any reason to distinguish anyone else in the way blacks were

. . .

[T]here's a relatively large Asian population in and around Lafayette, where ULL is, and in New Orleans, and you might find why Bobby Jindal winning the election doesn't come as all that shocking for several Louisianians I know. It actually says a lot about the state's sense of inclusiveness, and its peculiar relationship to race, I think.

Mary makes a very good point here. There are lots of folks around here who don't see Bobby Jindal the same way they would look at a black person. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons for this, and any differences that might alienate Jindal from the constituency that has shown him the most support (white males) has been downplayed by Jindal. He reiterates his Catholicism and support for conservative values like prayer in school, anti-coastal politics, etc. at every step. Also, conservatives have never really demonized any minority group the way they have set their sights on blacks and Hispanics (particularly newly immigrated Mexican-Americans and illegal immigrants, so there isn't an ideological antipathy to Indians in this country other than the kind of class warfare against the poor that conservatives have waged since well before the New Deal.

However, it's very possible that Jindal is over-polling at this point. Without evidence I will say that minorities in the south tend to poll higher in the days leading up to an election than they actually bring in at the ballot box when the chips are down. I understand this to be a conventional wisdom understanding of politics in the south, so if anyone has an argument that refutes it please speak up. It's possible that Jindal is benefiting from this right now as "likely voters" are more willing to say they will vote for an Indian than they are to actually vote for one. Saturday is shaping up to be very interesting. Right now most political observers are saying how great it is that we have such fantastic candidates duking it out for the state's highest office. That this observation stems almost universally from either candidate's freedom from scandal is pretty sad for the future of Louisiana.

10 November 2003

Quick reminder 

Don't forget to watch the debate tonight being sponsored by your local ABC affilliates and the League of Women Voters. I'll have my thoughts posted sometime after Monday Night Football, but only if there is more than thirty minutes spent not talking about negative campaigning.

Here's a drinking game you can play to help you through the hour:

Take one drink every time a candidate says:

something about "politics of the past";
"I want to talk about issues, but. . .";
anything about crunching numbers;
"I'm a problem solver" more than once in response to a given question;
"I have a __ page plan," or "I will convene a panel of the top experts.";
anything at all about their children somehow making them more qualified to lead;
"I agree with my opponent";
anything about the "right wing" or "liberals" in a disparaging way

Finish your drink if:

a candidate offers a pledge of any sort to his or her opponent;
either candidate says "I'm offended by. . .";
Bobby Jindal quotes Ronald Reagan, or mentions the failed CBS miniseries exploring his life;
Kathleen Blanco says she has a hunting liscence;
either candidate says "I disagree";
the subject of Texas text-books comes up in reference to either candidate's position on creationism;
a candidate uses a visual aid;
Pakistani/Indian politics are discussed at all

SLU poll more optimistic for Blanco 

Southeastern conducted a poll of public opinion on the gubernatorial election between Oct. 28 and November 5. It gives Blanco a very tight lead over her Republican opponent. According to the survey she commands 41.4% to Jindal's 40.1% with nearly 19% undecided. With "leaners" figured in Blanco has 45.1% to Jindal's 42.9%.

The pollsters draw some very interesting conclusions from their survey, which I'll share with you (sorry no link, this data came via email, you'll just have to trust me):

The general speculation has been that, due to socioeconomic effects, low voter turnout benefits Republicans in statewide elections in Louisiana. That doesn’t appear to be the case in this runoff election. Among chronic voters, Jindal has 41.5% of preferences, while Blanco has 40.7%. About 18% of chronic voters are undecided. Neither candidate appears to gain substantially when the focus turns to black or white chronic voters.

. . .

[T]here does not appear to be much of a difference between the voting preferences of men and women. There appears little or no gender gap in this runoff.

These conclusions seem to be borne out by the numbers they reference from their survey.

It's possible that this poll is just an outlier. Although the most recent polls I've seen seem to show the race closing, it hasn't appeared to be so drastic. Most notably because it falls in such dramatic contrast to the results from the days of Verne Kennedy's tracking poll that was conducted during the early part of this SLU survey period which gave Jindal an eleven point lead. That poll was similar in results to the Anderson Group (who was polling the race for the state GOP). These two surveys also present huge differences in the approval rating of Blanco--who SLU pegs at 62.7% while Kennedy still has her somewhere below 50%--which obviously makes someone wrong.

Now I will admit that the Kennedy numbers I'm contrasting with the SLU numbers with were taken at the absolute low point of Blanco's campaign, considering that she hadn't had a significant ad presence on television and was receiving some terrible press for supposed negative campaigning, disorganization, etc. His numbers have showed the margin closing over the last week or so. It's possible that this sample, taken over a longer period of time and using a sample more favorable to a Democratic candidate would make the difference, but that begs the question, which one is right?

With only a week to go, time will certainly tell. But I have to believe that Blanco's latest campaign boosts have at least turned things around for, even if it's not necessarily as much as this Southeastern poll would have me hope.

Any thoughts from my peeps?

Special thanks go out to the folks who work in higher-education who emailed me the .doc which contained this poll.

Update @ 5:14 pm: In comments Michael provides the link to the poll results and points out the disturbing result that 66% of those surveyed think a literal translation of the Bible is a better explanation for the origin of life on Earth than evolution.

There are no snappy titles for this anymore 

This may or may not be the last link I provide to a story about the campaigns and their so-called "negative advertising." It's AP's Adam Nossiter (site very slow today) this time, and he comes to the conclusion that (not his actually words)"sure, it's ugly. Sometimes you have to talk about the issues though."

Leave aside the pious handwringing for a moment. A good argument can be made that it is actually important, in a political race, for the contestants to "go negative"; It may not benefit the candidate--particularly not the one being attacked--but it is potentially of great utility to the voter.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, makes such an argument. The preeminent analyst of advertising in politics, Jamieson spoke in favor of ads that are "negative"--she dislikes the word--in a television interview with PBS several years ago.

"A lot of attack is perfectly legitimate and important discourse," Jamieson told the tv interviewer. "If you don't have attack in politics, you're not likely to find out about the weaknesses of the opponent. The opponent isn't likely to indicate what those are on his or her own."

I'm not quite sure why Nossiter had to go to an interview on PBS "several years ago" to scare up some quotes in support of "negative campaigning," but hey, it's his job and I'm not one to criticize (okay, this whole damn blog is about criticism, sue me).

It's a good story anyway, so give my daily a stop by online and see it for yourself.

Public schools and the death penalty 

In a story that examines Blanco's positions on promotion tests like LEAP and the Graduate Exit Exam described in an appearance on Cleo Fields weekly radio program I was surprised to find this passage:

· While the state has to make sure the death penalty is given only to those guilty of the crime, "I can tell you when you see, like the serial killer, you know it makes me want to go kill him myself."

I hope more candidates for statewide office will start expressing their support for vigilante justice. . . I know politicians frequently screw up throwaway lines like that one, and I suspect that even the sentiment behind it doesn't really bother most people, but this is the kind of rhetoric that I would hope our elected officials could avoid. Our tradition of "colorful politicians" is the real image problem this state has. Our neighbors sees us as corrupt, ass-backwards, bumpkins running a state. Officials have a duty to lead by example, and this kind of talk turns me off as much as any policy proposals.

It's all about the Benjamins 

The Advocate focuses on economic issues this morning, releasing the responses to their non-scientific survey of 300 business leaders. Their desires are fairly predictable: restructured tax system; access to cheaper insurance; a governor who gives the state an total image overhaul; etc.

Sara Bongiorni pens another story about the business leader's desire for a commitment to the "clusters" targeted as areas for economic growth in "Louisiana Vision 2020".

Unfortunately absent from the online edition is a simple sidebar that was included in print. It featured the candidates' positions on issues of economic development and gives a good idea of just how close Blanco and Jindal are on these issues. The only major difference is Jindal's support for "tort reform" issues like malpractice caps and limits on the ability to file class-action lawsuits. The newspaper also neglects to mention Blanco's support for the ability of small businesses to pool resources to provide health insurance for their employees. It lists this as something Jindal supports. I can't find this on Blanco's website, but I know she's said it in at least one of the forums during the primary.

09 November 2003

Inspiring on both sides 

Robert Travis Scott has the definitive article on the supposed negative campaigning in the governor's race in Sunday's Picayune.

Getting the link out to it this late probably means that most visitors to the site have already seen it, but I'd like to point out the most telling quote in the article:

"They want to portray the other one as the negative campaigner, and so now it's become almost meta-negativity -- they're negatively campaigning on the negative campaigning," said Susan Howell, a University of New Orleans political scientist.

Essentially the article is about the confusion that has cropped up among voters because, "Trying to figure out who went negative first was complicated by trying to discern whether anyone went negative at all."

This is interesting especially after seeing RNC chairman Ed Gillespie on Blitzer's "Late Edition" when he seemed to hint that the strategy for GOP candidates in the off year elections was to paint their Democratic opponents as negative campaigners:

The fact is, what we're seeing across the country is that candidates who run on issues, who run on ideas, who propose a positive agenda for the voters, those are the Republicans, as we saw with Governor-elect Schwarzenegger in California, Governor-elect Barbour in Mississippi, Governor-elect Fletcher in Kentucky -- that's what the voters wanted to hear.

And they rejected the Democratic negativity. The fact is, Republicans were out there attacking problems, Democrats were out there attacking Republicans, and voters rejected that approach to politics.

There's no question that this is a strategy organized on the highest levels of the GOP to paint Democratic opponents as "typical politicians" while Republicans are "visionary problem solvers." What's distressing is that voters are so easily duped by a strategy that seems so transparently political.

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