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Landrieu win salvages career, creates state intrigue

As disappointing as Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu’s 2006 defeat for mayor of New Orleans to the very flawed Ray Nagin, the Democrat’s win here in 2010 is as impressive, and has immediate repercussions across the Louisiana political landscape.

Personally, Landrieu needed a win to salvage his political career, and a big win to get it really going. After his ignominious 2006 defeat which meant his only semi-high profile political achievement to date was managing to win the (if there never were an absence in the governor’s office the rather insignificant) lieutenant governorship. This bode poorly for his ever aspiring to a more exalted position and a loss would have essentially ended any hopes of going beyond his current job. A big win without even necessitating a general election means he could leverage this new job into a credible run for the Senate (if his sister decides she can’t stand the self-generated heat and he wants to serve only a single term) in 2014 or the governorship in 2015.

Statewide, interesting conflicts look set to emerge. Gov. Bobby Jindal has made a good case for eliminating the lieutenant governor’s job and with no elected incumbent in the slot that makes it much easier to carry out this money-saving, confusion-reducing move. However, this reduces the number of offices politicians, especially those term-limited in the Legislature, can pursue so there may be some resistance from them for its demise. However politically unworkable the plan was with an incumbent, now it becomes a whole lot easier to pull off.

With this as a backdrop, succession now must occur. Republican Jindal will appoint somebody whom he has expressed would be somebody who would not want to run for the job (if it exists). Although some Democrats hoping against hope argue that since a Democrat was there another should replace him, the potential stakes are way too high to allow this and Jindal knows it. If for some reason Jindal leaves office (if so probably not voluntarily given his stated ambition to serve at least a full term) that would give a Democrat the top job. A Republican soon will be named.

With the possible elimination of the office, GOP Sec. of State Jay Dardenne will not want to leave what probably would become the new gubernatorial successor office. The best bet, given the potential excising of the office within two years, probably would be a choice of a Republican legislator of conservative leanings from a safe district who is term-limited and was planning on retiring from politics. This selection should produce a fascinating scenario over the few weeks.

1 comment:

Randall T. Hayes said...

It may be worth noting that Jindal's nominee will not be in the line of succession to become governor during the appointed term. Only an ELECTED lieutenant governor is in the line of succession in Louisiana.


So, even if Jindal appointed a Democrat, there would be no danger of that Democrat succeeding Jindal in the event of a vacancy in the governor's office, until after that Democrat was elected to the lieutenant governor's office in the fall special election. (Of course, that assumes that the appointed Democrat would be elected and that the effort to abolish the lieutenant governor's office would fail.)