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Foti signals Breaux political trouble lies ahead in bid

While there never was any legal weight behind any potential opinion that Democrat Louisiana Atty. Gen. Charles Foti could issue regarding whether ex-Senator, Maryland resident Democrat John Breaux could run for Louisiana governor, the political import is significant.

By opting not to issue an opinion, which concerns whether Breaux meets the five-year citizenship requirement to run for the office, Foti signals to Breaux and fellow state Democrats that their case for getting Breaux eligible rests on very shaky legal ground – in part because Foti and Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero are political allies from way back, and Foti must have sensed that Calogero did not perceive anything but difficulty in a Breaux candidacy prevailing on judicial grounds which surely would make its way to the highest court.

That doesn’t mean that the Court deciding in favor of a Breaux candidacy couldn’t happen – courts can decide anything, especially in Louisiana – but that the legal contortions responsible would be so transparent that politically it would work against Breaux. The last thing Breaux needs is for it to appear special interests are trying to rig procedures in his favor, as many already see him as a symbol of a good-old-boy political system in the state that is not above playing loose and fast with rules when it suits them. That’s not a good way to win votes in a climate already looking hostile to these kind of old-school politicians this election year.

Foti didn’t opine against because he wants to leave Breaux the option to decide for himself and, given his ego, Breaux well may brush aside this warning. Foti also hedged enough in his nondecision to try to give ammunition to allow Breaux not just to try to run, but even to try to skip the necessity of waiting until trying to run to determine his eligibility through a declaratory judgment (which at least one real constitutional law expert has said he cannot do). Putning also relieves Foti of facing flak for being a poltiical hack concerning his own reelection bid this fall.

But state Democrats shouldn’t put themselves through such histrionics if they are serious about winning the contest, and with this cue should start to look for a less-risky, gubernatorial candidate to rally around.

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