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Qualifying shows GOP looks to extend power grasp

Qualifying for state and local elections has ended, setting up fall elections that showcase the dominance the Republican Party has assumed in the state, in the process creating some Alice-in-Wonderland moments.

As no candidate considered major entered any of the statewide races who was not a Republican, expect after the October election that if for any of these a Republican does not win outright then, including the governorship, only Republicans will be left for the general election runoffs in November. As for the governor’s race, expect incumbent Republican Bobby Jindal to win in the general election with at least 60 percent of the vote. This eventually discomfits the liberal elite such as writers at the Baton Rouge Advocate, who never would have given front-page treatment to an opponent of his with almost no money and no real grasp of preferred issues by the Louisiana public as they did when it splashed prominently the entrance into the contest of one of the several Democrat longshots hoping Jindal before election day gets caught with a live boy or a dead girl; good luck with that with this scandal-boring top officer.

This result produced a governor’s contest that features the least suspense, given the quality of candidates as a whole, since 1936.


GOP statewide winner good bet to win 2015 governorship

As qualifying for state office begins, and since no major Democrats appear to be willing to run for any of the statewide kinds, given the kinds of outcomes that can come from the contests for the junior offices, we can see the jockeying begin among these Republicans appealing to the conservative base to become to successor to Gov. Bobby Jindal four years hence.

However, were any of Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Plaquemines Pres. Billy Nungesser, Sec. of State Tom Schedler, House Speaker Jim Tucker, Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell, Treasurer John Kennedy, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, and Sec. of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain to win the governorship in 2015, that would run against the field of play historically. With the exception of (then Lt. Gov.) Jared Sanders in 1908, (then Atty. Gen.) Ruffin Pleasant in 1916, and (then Lt. Gov.) Kathleen Blanco in 2003, no governor has come directly from one of the minor statewide offices since the 1898 Constitution that eliminated the last vestiges of Reconstruction. Congress, the Legislature, the state courts, and the Public Service Commission have provided more fertile grounds to launch a successful gubernatorial campaign than any single statewide office.

Nonetheless, especially in the term-limited era of the Legislature, ambitious politicians need a place to go and these offices allow for the continuation of political careers.


Alone, parish governing change unlikely to yield benefits

An interesting policy question that for a couple of Louisiana parishes has moved from the academic to practical is whether to put in place an elected parish executive with broad policy powers. As the media have reported imprecisely on the matter without referencing comprehensive expertise, I’ll provide some clarification and more precision here.

Both Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana Parishes have policy-makers or citizen groups pursuing a change from the Constitutionally-defined parish police jury system of government to adopting home rule charters that allow for much more flexibility in governing arrangements. Currently, 23 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes have opted not to operate under the system defined as the default under the Constitution. It also permits them to adopt a home-rule charter to change this, and of those that have, four have used it to create consolidated (that is, combining functions and governance of the parish and one or more cities within it) government.

Discussion concerning these two parishes focuses on the creation of an elected chief executive with broad powers.


Plan change approval would signal improved attitude

Recently, last year’s deposed University of New Orleans chancellor Tim Ryan, back to wearing his faculty researcher hat, produced a report commissioned by Entergy to determine the utility’s impact to the New Orleans metropolitan area. In an opinion piece focusing on how company metrics reflected the recovery of the city, the shorter-term successes were blunted by a revealing, and disturbing, tidbit about the considerable economic impact Entergy has on New Orleans.

And that was, ranked as the 213th largest public company in America, Entergy is the only Fortune 500 company still headquartered in New Orleans. As a whole, Louisiana has only three, with Entergy the smaller CenturyLink in Monroe and Shaw Group in Baton Rouge, and those two are newcomers moving on up onto the list in the past couple of years, while New Orleans has been slipping back. In 2006, the only two in the state were in New Orleans – and then Freeport McMoran bolted. But the decline had been long in coming.

Just before Hurricane Katrina, in 2004, in per capita terms by metropolitan area, the New Orleans area ranked second-lowest with these large firms in the country.