Throughout the fall, Republican Treasurer John Kennedy vigorously embraced his role on the Commission to Streamline Government impaneled to find ways to save the state money. By far its most vocal member, throwing out ideas of mixed value left and right, many made their way into the final report released yesterday to which Kennedy gave lukewarm reviews. In the process, the mantle of bold fiscal reformer passed to Kennedy from fellow GOP affiliate Gov. Bobby Jindal.
As Kennedy wrapped up his participation, Democrat Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu surprised most observers by reversing his pledge of months previous that he would not take a third stab at becoming New Orleans’ mayor. Sensing the opportunity was right, it appeared to pay off when a couple of presumed quality opponents withdrew and now it appears he has become the favorite to capture the prize that has eluded him for so long. If doing so, statewide attention paid to him would vastly expand (because, let’s face it, with a real Secretary of Culture, Recreation and Tourism around actually to run the department over which the state Constitution grants the lieutenant governor nominal authority, that officer just isn’t responsible for a whole lot and has a hard time having any policy-making influence – although Landrieu has tried.)
With the Streamlining Commission not going away and its relevance remaining high in this time of state budgetary stress and Landrieu’s likely win, the state could be seeing the initial jockeying of the prime two candidates to slug it out for the governorship in 2015. With wags wondering whether Kennedy remains confused about which office he really holds given his enthusiastic embrace of throwing out policy-making ideas that are the province of the governor, and with Landrieu’s increasing activism and profile in a state where Democrats are searching ever more in vain for white candidates that can compete for governor statewide, if things continue to develop as they are, the two could be on a collision course for that office. An easy reelection for Kennedy and one for Landrieu with another year-plus on top of that running
Much can happen in five years, but on their current trajectories both could become political heavyweights that would set up a race that the state will not have seen in nearly a quarter-century.