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Shreveport GOP abandoning hope of mayor's office?

It would appear that what’s left of the Republican Party in Shreveport has thrown in the towel to run that city – and may have better policy outcomes for it.

With the next mayor’s race just a year away, long-rumored candidate state Rep. Patrick Williams recently put on a fundraiser. What raised eyebrows among observers was the number of elected Republicans who had signed on to play a supporting role in this endeavor for the Democrat – and this effort didn’t include only moderates like Caddo Parish Commissioner John Escude’, but also conservative stalwarts like state Sen. Barrow Peacock.

That most of the local GOP legislative delegation signaled support for a black Democrat shows that they have written off the chance for their party to capture the spot their party held for most of the 1990s. As a candidate, Williams makes some sense from a conservative perspective – if you believe the only kind of candidate who can win is a black Democrat. On the Louisiana Legislature Log voting index over his six years in office, Williams’ average score is almost 46, where a score of 100 means voting a perfect conservative/reform record, and a 0 means voting a perfect liberal/populist record.


State correct to call DOJ bluff over voucher program

Gov. Bobby Jindal managed to be both right and wrong in his latest communication about the U.S. Department of Justice’s suit against Louisiana’s scholarship voucher program: the Pres. Barack Obama Administration has shifted tactics, but its goal to rewrite jurisprudence in the way it finds ideologically acceptable remains the same.

Earlier this week, Jindal proffered publicly his approval that DOJ had changed its stance on the issue, where it had withdrawn a request for injunctive relief in the courts. While characterizing this in a way that it had dropped the suit, technically that remains alive and set for a hearing later this week. And that was old news in a sense, for DOJ had said it no longer was looking to impound and delay program operation a couple of months ago and earlier this week the court ratified that. But what was new explains why, contrary to Jindal’s description, the suit hasn’t been withdrawn.

Previously, DOJ had asserted it could stop the program until the courts reviewed each and every assignment of a voucher for compliance with desegregation orders where they existed. Now, it has proposed dropping the compulsory aspect and asks instead that the state to send it this information before the state makes the assignments official, hinting that it will have input into these decisions and if it doesn’t like them it will seek relief from the courts. The court date where conceivably the compulsory aspect could be manufactured is still on, and for the federal government needs to be in order to keep the pressure on the state to submit to this agreement.


Myth vs. fact surrounding CD 5 special election result

In the aftermath of Rep.-elect Vance McAllister’s surprising special election win for the Fifth Congressional District, its unanticipated nature has spawned more myth than fact about its meaning present and future. A sorting out of these statements is in order.

The result served as a personal rebuke to Gov. Bobby Jindal. Myth. The perception that the McAllister campaign and others tried to create was that Jindal worked in cahoots with former Rep. Rodney Alexander and defeated runoff candidate state Sen. Neil Riser to time Alexander’s departure with an appointment by Jindal to be Louisiana Secretary of Veterans Affairs. While Jindal never endorsed Riser, each expressed admiration for the others’ record.

The shortcoming to this is it’s unlikely that more than a trivial proportion of voters even considered this to be an issue that, frankly, only a small segment of the public was interested in and debated. Candidates who ran explicitly on this theme, trying to distinguish their own self-articulated conservatism to contrast themselves with Riser’s fared poorly in the general election, because they missed the real issue at hand, being …


Eliminate potential impropiety by making PSC appointive

While it lacks important contextual background and sometimes reads as if it supports a hidden agenda, a series about campaign finance law regarding donations by The New Orleans Times-Picayune and WVUE brings up an interesting question regarding donations to Louisiana’s Public Service Commission. But, just as the best answer to questions about limits to candidates for statewide executive, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and legislative spots is perhaps not what the series authors would support, so is the best answer to the same question regarding the PSC also not something that its commissioners or self-styled reformers would support.

The argument for restricting donations to candidate for these other positions not only is for the most part intellectually lazy, but it also tramples free speech rights. The case against donations because they buy influence is almost without qualification rejected by political science research, although they do serve to buy access. Still, with access easily obtainable this way by a multitude of interests, and with independent-minded policy-makers out there who are expert at playing off interests against each other constrained only by their constituents, it’s clear that no one interest has any structural advantage over any other.

Better supported as a point of concern is the notion that contributions may put a donor close to the head of the line in terms of appointments to boards and commissions, although almost all of these officers have little power and do not receive a salary, but as appointees are expected (or at least anticipated) by appointers to follow that person’s issue preferences, their decisions end up reflecting by and large the will of the majority of the public who put the appointers into the offices where they may appoint. Thus, there is no problem of democratic deficit or having certain interests with outsized influence here, either.


McAllister play to left, expanding base pays off

The unprecedented, if not entirely shocking, victory by Vance McAllister in the special election for the Fifth Congressional District demonstrates just how wacky elections of this nature can turn out, but also points out how such elections results can be produced.

An awful lot of somewhat unlikely things had to happen for McAllister to claim victory over state Sen. Neil Riser in this contest. Trailing Riser by 14 percent but only getting 18 percent of the vote in the general election, the numbers for McAllister to pull this off were daunting. Given the previous results and demographics involved, he simply couldn’t make an appeal to the “anybody but Riser” faction in the electorate, built upon the quaint notion that Riser was an “insider” and he an “outsider.” At a 17 percent turnout level, he would have to win about 70 percent of the defeated candidates’ votes. At 15 percent, it would be 80 percent. Therefore, he needed to boost turnout past these historical norms.

Also, he needed not just to get defeated candidates votes, he had to grab new ones. This would dilute the advantage Riser had by the creation of these new, so to speak, votes for him. Finally, Riser had to do the opposite; that is, his campaign could not expand the electorate much nor attract new voters in order to allow McAllister to eat into his natural advantage coming out of the primary.