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21.2.07

Kennedy actions serving state and his political interests

Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has kept his streak going, rare until recently among statewide elected officials, of speaking and acting in a commonsensical manner the opposite of the special-interest-favoring, good-old-boy ethos predominant in the state. If he continues, he may present reformers of the conservative and/or Republican stripes next year the necessity of having to take a leap of faith.

Only last week, Kennedy, in his role of serving on special state committees, properly and publicly voiced displeasure at a plan to bring less accountability to the State Bond Commission and to engineer quietly a potentially far-reaching financial transaction. During this term as treasurer almost always, and sometimes with a lone voice, Kennedy has advocated sensible spending priorities and transparency in government.

These actions have led some to wonder, since the vast majority (but not all) of the good-old-boy crowd calls themselves Democrats, why Kennedy still identifies with that label, and further speculation runs rampant that Kennedy will switch to the Republicans and launch a bid challenging Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2008. On the surface, this seems to be the optimal plan for Kennedy to achieve higher office, as he could present himself as the only other major candidate in that contest by taking away support another GOP candidate could get.

But it also raises an uncomfortable question for GOP supporters who would like nothing better than to get a Republican in and Landrieu out. Kennedy also ran for Senate in 2004, but in that contest his reformist tendencies were cloaked in left-wing rhetoric. That appeared to be a tactical decision on his part, thinking that eventual winner Sen. David Vitter would appeal to the right and Democrat Chris John would be boxed into the center by having a candidate like Kennedy come in from the left. It obviously didn’t work as Kennedy finished, if respectably, in third.

If Kennedy does have eyes on this office with this path, he will need to keep hewing to this line. The GOP may not be entirely convinced that he has put away his liberalism and other long-time Republicans such as (if he doesn’t win this year’s governor’s race) state Sen. Walter Boasso could be tempted to tackle Landrieu. A penchant for Kennedy publicizing every opportunity for contrasting his views against the populist majority of the state’s officeholders’ would be as much to promote good policy as to prove his trustworthiness to Louisiana Republicans.

3 comments:

danrichey@cox.net said...

Don't forget that the '08 cycle will be a "closed" primary for both Dems and GOP. It's unlikely that a GOP switch by Kennedy will innure to his benefit among conservatives, which should have the biggest impact in the primary; especially since it will require a majority, not plurality.

Nick said...

Also, we have in one of the January articles by Robert Novak stating that the national Republican "machine" has been looking at Charles Boustany to possibly tackle Landrieu in '08. A run-off with Boustany and Kennedy would be much like the run-off of Jindal and Kennedy that I'd like to see for Governor. That kind of matchup would ensure that Louisiana could not lose and would gain a good leader either way.

Anonymous said...

I could easily become a millionaire selling ice cream made of vomit and fesis if i could borrow either the name of Clinton or Landrieu. The product would still be puke and crap tho...........For the state of LA i could add A caveiot............marketed by Odom......please excuse spelling. educated in LA....................kjun