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GOP Breaux strategy based on voter frustration, not fear

Why are nearly daily announcements, ad campaigns preemptively launched, and lengthy analysis of Maryland resident’s John Breaux Louisiana citizenship dominating political discourse? One wrong answer is that opposition to the candidacy of Breaux by Republicans and conservatives indicates unusual trepidation of a Breaux candidacy and lack of confidence in GOP frontrunner Rep. Bobby Jindal.

Following analysis in this space, it is becoming generally accepted by observers of all political persuasions that a Breaux candidacy would constitute a tremendous risk for Democrats to take which at worst will leave them without an “official” candidate come October and almost certainly will go down in defeat given the fodder produced by a candidacy asking the state to play fast and loose with its own Constitution and an opposition more than able to publicize that. Thus, it is the last thing Breaux, Democrats, and the supporters of politics-as-usual want, protracted conflict reminding the voting public of this.

But, obviously, it is exactly what Jindal, Republicans, and reformists want to have happen. They will take any opportunity to remind the public, with an election still over six months away, of who Breaux is and that his and his allies’ very actions regarding his candidacy illustrate perfectly a major reason why Louisiana is so backwards compared to the rest of America (because good-old-boy politicians look first to taking care of their own interests and those of their allies through powerful government, throwing ethics and integrity out the window, while the liberties of other individuals are just an afterthought), to drive home another nail into the liberal/populist elite that have run roughshod over Louisiana for decades.

The ultimate payoff is if Breaux does run. His opponents are rapidly creating a condition where any such success in gaining ballot access will appear illegitimate, destroying any chance he has of winning. This is why, as I have counseled before, Breaux must move as quickly as possible to set the state for another Democrat’s candidacy, then exit immediately, to prevent continuing the long-term damage he will do to his Democrat/liberal/populist co-religionists.

A more sophisticated analysis of the situation reveals hammering on the Breaux qualification question occurs not out of fear, nor from poor strategy (that theory being don’t attack with a lead, as polls continue to show Jindal with a huge advantage in a hypothetical matchup with Breaux). Rather, proper understanding reveals that opponents of politics of the past in the state understand elements are converging rapidly in their favor and the opportunity exists to move the state forward farther than they believed before the troubled nature of the Breaux candidacy surfaced, as long as it continues to limp along. It is the lack of understanding of this by Breaux sympathizers which increases the magnitude of this opportunity.


Fanciful Breaux candidacy thoughts still distract Democrats?

As John Breaux continues to dither with a decision whether to announce a run for Louisiana governor later this year, the reason for that may be turning away from an information search to determine whether he can qualify to run to allowing time for another viable Democrat to get a campaign organization together.

In a note to fellow Democrat Atty. Gen. Charles Foti who is preparing a (nonbinding) opinion on the question whether Breaux has been a “citizen” of the state for he past five years, state Rep. Ronnie Johns pointed out the absurdity of Breaux’s justification – being a partner in property ownership in the state – that has repeatedly appeared in this space: Breaux’s formulation would allow foreign nationals to run for governor. In addition, Johns pointed out that Breaux could not qualify for Louisiana resident hunting and fishing licenses (although the legal question involved is about “citizenship,” not “residency”).

Breaux allies also have floated the idea that he could get a declaratory judgment from the Louisiana judiciary about the matter. But Louisiana constitutional law expert Louisiana State University Dale Bennett Professor of Law John S. Baker, Jr. (who also has outlined the compelling argument that Breaux does not meet the citizenship requirement) asserted on the Moon Griffon radio program that such a case is too hypothetical for it to accept until qualifying produced actual plaintiffs and defendants – early September.

Surely Democrats must be aware of the bind they are putting themselves in with continued speculation about a Breaux candidacy. It is now abundantly apparent the tremendous twisting of the law and Constitution that would have to happen to have Breaux declared qualified – a matter that surely would go to the Louisiana Supreme Court which last year did not start its October term until the middle of the month (the election is Oct. 20). This naked power-grab attempt will further enrage Louisiana voters who already are showing little patience for old faces running for office like Breaux’s, ensuring his defeat. (This, of course, assumes he’s even on the ballot which, if the Louisiana judiciary does its job correctly, he would not be.)

If they are sensible, state Democrats will be using the Breaux circus as a diversion while they recruit a stronger candidate. It could be that Breaux is not out interviewing campaign staffers actually for his own, but for a friend such as Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. In any event, the state should know for sure by about Apr. 17, when 180-day reports are due for campaign financial disclosure, whether state Democrats with Breaux are committing themselves to a suicidal course to lose the Governor’s Mansion and perhaps more.


Vitter correctly predicts judicial partisanship, Breaux loss

Regarding the upcoming governor’s race, Sen. David Vitter made two noteworthy statements: that the Louisiana Supreme Court will allow ex-resident John Breaux to run for governor if he tries to qualify, and that regardless Rep. Bobby Jindal will win. These comments deserve further examination.

If Breaux has the audacity to run, there will be a challenge about Sep. 10 to his candidacy. It will appear in the 19th District in Baton Rouge and a decision will be made around the Sep. 16 at best. Also at best, the inevitable appeal will be heard around Sep. 20 at the First Circuit, and the inevitable appeal to that to the Louisiana Supreme Court. However, the Court’s September session will have occurred by then. Even if it expedites, it will not be until the first week of October that the Court would hear any appeal, and an indeterminate number of days would pass before an opinion is issued. The election is Oct. 20.

But Vitter probably is correct about the Court approving of a Breaux candidacy. That’s because, reviewing the composition of the Court, there are five identifiable sympathizers with the notion of a Breaux candidacy and if you need to know one thing about the Louisiana judiciary, whose judges are elected, if it involves a political matter, that its judiciary can be as partisan as any other branch of government.

Yet Vitter also is correct about Jindal winning, in some part because of the tremendous stink that declaring Breaux as a “citizen” of Louisiana form the past five years would raise. Many would recognize this as a sham, as a naked political assertion of power by a dying machine born to place politics above the good of the state trying to preserve its power and privilege. After all, the basis by which Breaux has claimed he has been a “citizen” of Louisiana is so open-ended that any non-American who owns property in Louisiana and hardly sets foot in the state could qualify.

(To emphasize this point, the GOP should find a sympathetic somebody who matches Breaux’s “citizenship” claims as closely as possible, and have him qualify for governor, then contest his candidacy, publicizing it all along and seeing what the Democrats, media, and other willing allies of them have to say about this person, culminating in what the Court has to say about this candidacy. In case he makes the ballot, he could withdraw if he likes.)

Even with willing media accomplices trying to spin any favorable, obviously political decision about a Breaux candidacy, enough of the Louisiana voting public will be sickened by this arrogant display of exactly what good-old-boy attitude has afflicted the state for so many decades to prevent a Breaux victory, likely making Jindal the beneficiary. Which is why the state GOP should be rooting for this suicidal strategy by its opponents.


Vitter smartly, Landrieu recklessly deals with troop issue

It is important to understand what was supported and what was not when last week the U.S. Senate voted on (a different version than did the House on) H.R. 1591 – especially since some of the senators doing the voting aren’t exactly conceptually clear on it.

The bill has three parts to it. First, it authorizes about $100 billion for war-related expenditures which best estimates show will be needed by the middle of May for current operations to remain unaffected. (The war on terror currently is being financed by supplemental appropriations like this, not through the regular budget process.) Second, it authorizes another $22 billion or so for matters entirely unrelated to prosecution of the war, including around $800 million to waive state and local government matches in Louisiana for some kinds of federal aid and $1.3 billion due to a programmatic shift of funding for flood control projects. Finally, it sets a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Louisiana’s senators provide a contrast in proper understanding and wisdom concerning this bill. Republican Sen. David Vitter voted against it, even as he supported the reauthorization and the extra funding parts of it. (The non-war-related funds are highly questionable for approval now: federal government monies pumped into Louisiana have created revenue for governments far beyond what the matching requirement is, other funds given by the federal government without strings more than make up for it as well, and the flood control money will be granted later in the year during the normal budget process as there is no urgency for it now given reconstruction timelines.)

Vitter did so because he realizes that a forced withdrawal policy is tantamount to following the Democrats’ foreign policy in regards to the war – waving the white flag of surrender unconditionally. A set deadline encourages America’s enemies to wait it out, then after American departure do their best to dismantle America’s closest Arab ally, Iraq – the strategy followed in America’s major self-inflicted wound of the 20th century, the Vietnam Conflict. To allow defeat in this theater will create a worse situation than ever for America in the region. Vitter also knew that Pres. George W. Bush surely would veto the bill as it stands precisely because of this reason, so it was a grand waste of time to even consider moving it forward.

By contrast, Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu shows no such sophistication in her vote for the measure. Wringing more money more quickly out of the federal government for Louisiana might be appealing to her, but it is reckless and irresponsible for her to do so at the cost of the country’s security. She demonstrated no grasp of this simple fact, that the vote showed those voting against it were for victory, and those like her voting for it were for defeat.

Even if, as is highly likely, the Democrat-controlled Congress is forced by veto threat or reality to send a bill to Bush without the deadline within the next 45 days for which she votes, Landrieu repeatedly on this issue has shown a serious error in judgment that once again calls into question her fitness to serve as Louisiana’s senator.