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Marionneaux quest depends on Democrats' desperation

It’s a week until August, about a month before qualifying for state office begins, and do Louisiana Democrats know where their gubernatorial candidates are? A sacrificial lamb would be  better than no major candidate at all.

Which is what they’ll get if term-limited state Sen. Rob Marionneaux decides to run. He seems to be giving it until the end of the month, stating that he’ll pony up if, in his words, he can answer affirmatively on all of  “The belief [Gov.] Bobby Jindal could be beaten; That my family is secure in my doing this; The belief I could change the state.”

Going in reverse order, the last would not happen because Marionneaux neatly fits into the eroding state political culture of populism, that government needs vigorous redistribution of wealth from the few to the many because the many have more votes.
As the state’s voters’ attitudes slowly but steadily mature away from this, by their gain in capacity to think for themselves and in having greater access to information, Marionneaux would reverse this healthy trend, away from desirable change.

But somebody with an outsized ego and fealty to politics of the past cannot understand that, so that’s not going to stop Marionneaux. He must make his own judgment call on the middle item, yet that first one should provide the starkest argument against taking a flyer.

With popularity ratings still well on the plus side and at least $9 million in the campaign kitty, Jindal would present a formidable obstacle to bring down – if one started years in advance. People successfully winning the office in the past few decades always had a big head start. You could argue that Jindal and his predecessor former Gov. Kathleen Blanco began four years before the election, Jindal just after he lost to Blanco, Blanco from her lieutenant governorship spot as soon as former Gov. Mike Foster had coasted to his second term. Foster began running ads 18 months prior to the election. His predecessor, former Gov. Prisoner #03128-095, operated in permanent campaign mode. Even quixotic current presidential candidate former Gov. Buddy Roemer announced started attending events over a year in advance to unseat Edwards.

You simply don’t show up at the last minute and have much chance to win – if you’re squaring off against an unpopular incumbent having trouble attracting financing. It’s impossible against one with Jindal’s support and resources, absent a “live boy or dead girl” debacle, which is as likely to come from Jindal as he is to become the pitchman for this – especially with a challenger with such a flawed record (type “Marionneaux” in the search box above and you’ll see what I mean).

While, again, Marionneaux would delude himself into thinking a majority of Louisianans might actually align with his issue preferences, he isn’t so dense as to know the unassailable nature of Jindal’s position. So when he says it would take $5 million to run a “credible” campaign, this translates as “a campaign where I can get 40 percent of the vote and I put up little of my own effort into raising the money to get it” – because there’s no way he can create an organization and get it to pry that much cash out of donors and spend it strategically in three months.

So it’s not so much his decision, really, as it rests with enough people with enough money that not just want to elevate the chances of defeating Jindal from “none” to “microscopic,” but who also want to put down that amount in order increase chances of Democrats of winning in downballot contests. That amount would spawn activation of some in the Democrat constituency to haul themselves to the polls who otherwise would consider alternative activities more valuable and would trigger increased get-out-the-vote machinery. However, just how many more votes and if they would make that much of a difference remains a matter of prospective donors’ judgment.

In essence, Marionneaux has volunteered to be a loyal soldier as long as it’s not on his dime. It’s not what state Democrats want – they’d rather have a white knight swoop in raining money – but it beats nothing.

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