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Vitter debate engagement improves voter choice

Perhaps the winner on the issues at the junior-sized Louisiana governor candidate debate was the only quality candidate who didn’t make an appearance at it. But his being a bit less circumspect about occasions to discuss these would validate that assessment.

The debate wasn’t quite a big boy encounter, not so much because college students rather than interests typically more involved and less insulated from public policy organized and delivered it but because the race favorite, Sen. David Vitter, didn’t grace it with his presence. According to his Senate website, the Republican was only a few dozen miles away yesterday inveighing on the lesser prairie chicken, but declined attendance with an unspecified prior engagement.

Naturally, Republicans Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards made disapproving noises about his semi-excused absence. Then they proceeded to underwhelm in their answers to the menu of questions.


Visions compete to forecast gubernatorial election

It now appears that at least one pollster of the 2015 Louisiana gubernatorial contest figures a different electorate than recent trends suggest on which other pollsters base their samples. If he is correct, the contest’s dynamics differ from what commonly is believed.

Market Research Insight has polled monthly on behalf of a small group of subscribers. A portion of the proprietary information gets leaked from time to time and made some news last month when it gauged a neck-and-neck race between Sen. David Vitter and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. This was contrary to every other poll from several other outfits that consistently have Vitter and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only Democrat in the race, leading the pack considerably over Angelle and the other Republican, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. The MRI poll basically replicates other polls’ results on the placements of Edwards and Dardenne when assigning 90 percent of the total black vote to Edwards and the remainder proportionally to the others.

That July poll truly resided as an outlier as polls immediately before and after it showed clear Edwards/Vitter and Angelle/Dardenne tiers. It was speculated previously that the differences could come only from two sources, one being that particular MRI poll suffered from an “unhappily randomized” sample. Simply, it could have been an instance, with most pollsters choosing to risk this degree of inaccuracy, where the five percent chance of drawing an unrepresentative sample of the population actually did occur.


"Rebels" nickname, mascots don't need eradication

In a frenzy to follow fad, should area government dissociate anything reeking of the Confederacy from schools and other public spaces?

Sparked in particular by savage murders earlier this summer, questions have risen anew about the appropriateness of symbols identified with the long-gone Confederate States of America serving as names of streets, buildings, monuments, and nicknames and/or mascots of public schools’ competitive teams. Bestowing such attention on these items in the public space risks conveying the impression that the less salutary aspects of the Confederacy continue to receive endorsement even to this day.

Of course, the idea that having some Confederate-associated label disgraces irredeemably the object is terribly oversimplified. The controversial monument celebrating the last Confederate national government located in Shreveport that (for now) sits proximate to the Caddo Parish Courthouse serves as a valued historic reminder, for example. Yet, at the same time, the historical record makes clear that, of the several reasons why the southern states rebelled, their governments’ desire to preserve slavery was paramount, lending evil to the treasonous enterprise, thus making invalid any argument that to fly before any other choice the (Third) Confederate (Battle) flag celebrates certain virtues, for the present American flag does the same without the baggage.


Dardenne remark shows his campaign desperation

It’s official: Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has gone into desperation mode in his quest for Louisiana’s top office.

For months, the governor’s race dynamics have presented a challenge to him. Sen. David Vitter’s strong conservative credentials plus ability to meld populist preferences into him make his a formidable Republican challenger. Meanwhile, Democrats wishing to have an affair with Dardenne on their endorsed standard-bearer state Rep. John Bel Edwards, given the former’s good government record while in the state Senate but willingness to raise taxes to fund it, have another suitor from the right-of-center in Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. With the vote closer to the center split by Dardenne and Angelle, Vitter and Edwards have clear sailing to dominate among voters at the ends of the ideological spectrum, leaving Angelle and Dardenne dragging the rear and considerably behind the others.

Now with fewer than eight weeks remaining until the Oct. 24 election, the stability of these dynamics suggest nothing will change as long as the candidates continue to stress the same themes and issues. So, perhaps shaken by a recent report, Dardenne decided to do just that.


Partisan hermaphodite suit raises no valid issue

Acting as quite a distraction from his Ashley Madison inquiries, former state Rep. Damon Baldone’s quest to return to the Louisiana Legislature took a quixotic turn as he attempts to become, in the words of one waggish observer, a political hermaphrodite.

Baldone, intending in a couple of weeks to qualify to run in his House district, unsuccessfully sued to register himself as a voter as both a Democrat and Republican. In Louisiana, upon qualification for office the ballot lists the party affiliation of the registrant if it is a recognized party by the state; otherwise, the candidate is indicated as “other” or may choose if not affiliated with any party as “no party.” After an adverse initial decision, he has appealed the ruling.

Elector registration becomes the method for assigning ballot label because Louisiana is one of the few states that does not have party primaries for nomination onto a general election ballot. It is a few other states than these that allow by law what is known as “cross-filing” by a candidate. Typically in these, a candidate may vie for more than one party’s nomination and if then is listed on the general election ballot with more than one label.


McAllister seeks redemption with longshot quest

Perhaps relieved at not having anything to do with him surfacing as a result of the hacking bust of the Ashley Madison spouse cheating website, former Rep. Vance McAllister looks to unseat state Sen. Mike Walsworth in this fall’s election. As lightning didn’t strike twice before, asking for it to do so again will be a reach for him.

McAllister initially became famous for coming out of nowhere to defeat several officeholders in a special election in 2013 for the Fifth Congressional District post. He celebrated by getting caught on video kissing a married staffer not his wife, thus earning him the sobriquet “the kissing Congressman.” After admitting the truth about the infidelity and saying he would pass on reelection, he changed his mind and ran a distant fourth.

He claims his rationale for running as Walsworth not paying enough attention to his district in favor of supporting policies of Gov. Bobby Jindal. Of course, this presupposes not only that the ideologies of Walsworth and Jindal don’t differ much, but that they also differ from the preferences of the 33rd Senatorial District.


Change law to modernize LA municipal governance

Only in Louisiana is there the weird situation where generally small-town mayors don’t have enough executive power but too much judicial power for good government.

The vast majority of Louisianans who live in a municipality do so where there exists a city court, as this was required of those with populations greater than 5,000 prior to the latest 1974 Constitution. But where one is not established a municipal corporation up to 1974 was required to have a mayor’s court; since then, city courts cannot be established and so new municipalities either must have established a mayor’s court or a parish-wide court (as in a few instances) by the Legislature.

A city court has an elected judge presiding. By contrast, in a mayor’s court, the mayor acts as the judicial officer over a limited jurisdiction of cases over the certain laws and city ordinances, within the city boundaries. It thereby merges executive and judicial powers into one officer, and this arrangement, found in very few other states, federal courts have determined is of dubious constitutionality.


Gov. field practically set, pushing Vitter to victory

State Rep. John Bel Edwards can breathe a sigh of relief. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne have decisions to make. And so do Louisiana Democrats.

When New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams publicly announced, after interest got stirred about the possibility, that he would not run for governor, this effectively meant the last opportunity for the contest to change as a result of an additional beyond these men and Sen. David Vitter had passed. Williams is thought to contemplate running for mayor of New Orleans in 2018 and a gubernatorial candidacy could have increased his profile in that regard in a cost effective manner – especially as he would have received support from some not so much because those believed in his candidacy but because they saw one of the other four as obnoxious.

At this late date Williams could have influenced the race because, as a black Democrat with a record of capturing enough votes to win something more than an office with a relatively trivial amount of power, he could have drawn (unlike others) a significant amount of votes as even a subdued but not practically invisible campaign effort would be enough to alert black voters to his presence in the contest. Now with two months to go to the election, no non-black candidate or black candidate not a proven vote-getter for an office of significant stature has enough time to make enough of an impact to change the dynamics of the contest, given the compressed time frame involved.