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Hightower shows hand; local GOP needs to respond

If you believe that the “image-building” ads being run on television in the Shreveport media market touting the accomplishments of Mayor Keith Hightower are only that, then I’ve got some prime real estate in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward to sell you.

Democrat Hightower doesn’t confirm that he is running for another office when he leaves the mayor’s job at the end of November, 2006, but neither does he disconfirm it. And there seems to be little point to spend $100,000 on feel-good ads about him and having a huge campaign war chest all ready to splurge unless he has something else in mind.

Given the timing of his leaving the mayor’s job, Hightower could be aiming for one of three jobs. First, it’s possible that he could try to set up a run for the House of Representatives later this year. This would be a longshot because of current Republican Rep. Jim McCrery’s high popularity even with his recent donation of contributions from activities organized by tainted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Plus, Hightower would not want to pursue a campaign so soon after his own controversial special interest connections (sludge contracts, real estate, city lending) alleged to influence his governing decisions and his controversial successful push to get Shreveport into a likely money-losing public lodging business.

Hightower would not be signaling that he wants to bide time and run in 2008, in order for time to lapse for the public to “forget” about these things, by running these ads now because in two years the public will forget any impact these ads had, too. They’ll also forget somewhat about Hightower in the meantime and the 2008 electoral landscape for Democrats in Louisiana probably would be even less favorable than in 2006 with a likely fairly liberal presidential candidate at the top of the ticket.

Second, Hightower could be angling for a statewide office. But the 2007 electoral environment for Democrats statewide probably will even be worse still, with a predicted state fiscal crisis ready to remind the public which party controlled the Legislature and held all the statewide offices before and right after the hurricane disasters (Democrats) and that the performance of state Democrats during that interval was, to be charitable, inadequate. Add to that the reduction of the reliably Democrat voting bloc around New Orleans and Hightower should want no part of an election cycle which may well end with a GOP majority of statewide offices.

Of course, Hightower could be jockeying for the special election later this year to fill the unexpired term of Secretary of State. But he is just a regional Democrat candidate without that large of a financial cushion that could get steamrolled by Mike Francis’ campaign, and the entrance into the contest of a black Democrat would make any such run a waste of Hightower’s resources.

Most likely, Hightower is angling for the open state Senate District 37 seat when (Louisiana’s best state) Sen. Max Malone is retired through term limits at the end of 2007. With current state Rep. Billy Montgomery (also facing term limits in his present post) likely to join the trend of legislators switching from Republican to Democrat and no genuine, competitive, quality Republican having emerged to run at this point, Hightower would like his chances against the big government advocate Montgomery. This also would explain the local range of the Hightower ads.

This cue ought to have metropolitan area Republicans starting an intense search to find a true conservative to challenge for the seat, one with a proven record of restrained government spending, accountability in that spending, and a commitment to honesty in government, among other true conservative principles. Hightower’s ad campaign belies his thinking at this point, a gauntlet thrown down that the GOP needs to take up now before all that’s left for District 37 come 2007 is an echo rather than a true choice with a superior option.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Hightower has been one of the worst mayors that we have had.
He claims that he had nothing to do with the Strip Club, but when it was first mention he was taking all the credit for it. In the last 8 years look what Shreveport has lost to Bossier City. Century Tell, Workable Louisian Borad Walk, Reeves Marine Center and only God knows what else. As far as YOuree Drive development, real estate people are the ones to get credit for that development. If they had not tried to make our side of the River to just dance, drink, and eat maybe we could have a good Boardwalk.
I cannot think of one thing GOOD that Hightower has done for this city except to his friends and the North side of town that put him in office to start witn