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Landrieu mayoral win creates intriguing statewide scenarios

Last week, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu revealed one of the worst kept secrets around recent New Orleans that he will run for mayor in April. As interesting as this might be concerning politics in the Crescent City, it makes for even more interesting ramifications statewide.

Were Landrieu, as currently he is favored, to win the top job in New Orleans, he no longer could ascend to the state’s top job of Governor as Lt. Governor. What makes this more than an academic point is that a concerted recall effort is taking place aimed at Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Legally, a petition must meet the one-third registered voter mark within 180 days, and then officials would have 20 days to certify it. Given this time frame (with any general election for mayor, as expected, to occur May 22), the next election date that could be scheduled for the recall would be the Sep. 30 contest to fill two other statewide offices.

This would give Blanco plenty of time (the Constitution gives no specifics) to choose Landrieu’s successor who would face confirmation by the Legislature (convenient, since it would be in session at the time if she’s quick about it). In essence, she might be picking her own successor if things don’t go well for her.

(This month or so would be an interesting time in the state. Should the governor’s office become prematurely vacant at this time, there would be no Lt. Governor to assume the job. Neither would there be an “elected” Secretary of State that would be next in line – the current holder of that office Al Ater was not elected. That would put Atty. Gen. Charles Foti – whose family is married into the Landrieu clan – in the Governor’s Mansion. How about that for a Landrieu anaconda wrapping itself around the state?)

This duty presents quite a choice for Blanco. She must be relieved that a potential gubernatorial rival now is out, and she would want to pick somebody that would not become a political rival to her; indeed, she would want an ally on the chance she does get recalled successfully and/or to assist her in reelection efforts. Is this a backdoor way for Jim Bernhard to finally get the political power he has craved?

And it’s something she needs to start working on immediately. With Landrieu looking like he well could be out of the picture for a succession, this can only encourage people to sign the recall petition who otherwise would not want to see two Landrieus in three of the most powerful statewide elected offices in Louisiana.

Nothing can happen unless Landrieu wins, but if he does, the situation will conjure up some political intrigue exciting even by Louisiana’s inflated standards.

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