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Democrats may resort to strategic voting in CD 5

This space recently conjectured whether a Republican other than Rep. Vance McAllister could make a runoff for Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District, and if the entrance of Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway as a Republican into the contest diminished those chances. A new poll gives us some data on which to assess these observations.

Done by the same firm which released the only previous independent and public poll on the race, which had showed McAllister leading the field but with a dismal 27 percent and the only Democrat in it Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo next at 21 percent, revealed the previously highest-placed challenger Republican to McAllister, physician Ralph Abraham, now topped the group at 22 percent. McAllister had slumped to 20 percent and Mayo was down just a point fewer than he had to 15 percent. Holloway debuted with 9 percent of the vote, in fifth place, behind businessman Harris Brown at 11 percent, who nearly doubled his previous total. Losing as much as McAllister was the previously fourth-place holder, salesman Zach Dasher, who fell to sixth place at 7 percent.

(There are some methodological quibbles with this poll and its predecessor, such as it fails to rotate answers throughout, meaning there’s a slight bias towards earlier-listed names and away from those nearer the end of the alphabet. But in terms of changes in candidate totals between polls that shouldn’t matter for analysis.)


Maness goes useful idiot with lame apology request

While she’s getting a Maness-churian candidate assist on the subject, the very nature of the issue’s dynamics is not going to turn a remark made by Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy into any appreciable fodder to help the deteriorating candidacy for reelection of Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu.

That remark was one where Cassidy compared the Senate leadership of the chamber political head, Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, as overseeing a plantation – orders are given, and the party out of power has no input into any of them, which does violate the collegial norms of the Senate. It’s not a new or even controversial assessment, as political historians have noted that Reid runs the Senate in one of the most closed, iron-fisted fashions ever.

And the idea, proffered by both Reid himself and minor Republican Senate candidate Rob Maness that there’s something objectionable about the terminology Cassidy used – presumably because plantations in America historically used blacks first as slaves and then until only a few decades ago as virtually indentured servants – seems hardly credible. Former Sen. Hillary Clinton used just such an analogy to describe House of Representative’s Republican leadership in 2006 to an almost-exclusively black audience and was asked to apologize by GOP leaders.


Thompson leaving earlier improves district's prospects

With state Rep. Jeff Thompson’s election as a 26th District judge, the process of picking his successor, depending how it’s done, creates conditions that could leave district residents better or worse off.

At the end of qualifying, no one but Thompson signed up to run for the District B slot to succeed Ford Stinson, automatically putting him in line to be sworn in early next year. To do so, he must resign his current office before then. State law says that when the presiding officer of the chamber, in this instance Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley, receives notice of a resignation when more than six months of a member’s term remains (Thompson’s expires in early 2016) without a regularly scheduled election prior to a session’s start, he may designate a qualification period and election date.

Historically, in these kinds of situations where a November election produces a legislative vacancy, presiding officers have scheduled a special election anywhere from the end of January to early March. Thompson plans on this as he has expressed intent to resign at the end of the year. He may not be alone: over a half dozen other legislators (including state Rep. Patrick Williams for Shreveport mayor) are running for various posts with them not as lucky as he by being an earlier winner. If any win, some may do so on Nov. 4 and others on Dec. 6. The idea, then, would be that by the latter date all who will need to resign will know, these will happen, and the replacement elections will be held together statewide early in 2015.


Landrieu scam on voters works against U.S. interests

If Sen. Mary Landrieu wants to create the perception that she’s identified with Louisiana rather than with Washington, D.C., standing athwart of foreign policy that helps U.S. interests just to make that point isn’t the way to do it.

For weeks all that has stood in between the U.S. being able to levy certain sanctions against Venezuelan individuals involved in crackdowns directed at protests against that country’s authoritarian leaders, which would involve revoking the visas and freezing the assets of a handful of people, has been Landrieu’s insistence that the matter not be taken up in the Senate. Under the rules for this kind of measure that require unanimity, she has become the only objector, claiming that these would cost Louisianans jobs with her rationale being that these could affect operations at a CITGO refinery in Lake Charles, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Venezuela’s government-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A..

How intellectually she can come to such a conclusion is known only to her. The bill as drafted, assuming that you can conflate Venezuela’s leaders as “owning” CITGO, does not prevent its operation in anyway – confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers involved with the bill. But Landrieu’s office admitted they agreed with Venezuelan officials – working through the struggling Patton Boggs lobby firm recently acquired by Squire Sanders but retaining as its co-lead lobbyist the guy who showed her the ropes when she got to Washington, former Sen. John Breaux – that CITGO might conceivably someday be considered a legal person despite the committee staffers’ reassurance.


Vitter has chance for more reform impetus than Jindal

Sure, Sen. David Vitter is the early favorite to win Louisiana’s governorship in a bit over a year. And the reason he is – possessing strong, take-no-prisoner conservative credentials with nods to the populist strain in the state’s political culture – is what gives him room to expand his policy options in ways that may win more votes than lose them.

In the early sweepstakes for the state’s top job, featuring Republicans Vitter and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards, observers generally think that Vitter would come out on top but not with a simple majority of votes, and that while he would win going away against Edwards in a runoff, matched with Dardenne he would retain but a slight edge. This is because Dardenne is considered able to get votes of some conservatives disaffected with Vitter for his stridency and past admitted commission of a “serious sin” over a decade ago which is thought to involve prostitution, and also should attract disproportionately Democrats.

But at his last stop on a tour of the state over the past few months, in Baton Rouge Vitter articulated some issue preferences that might cause controversy. When given the opportunity when discussing about how to find money to build roads, Vitter did not automatically rule out raising the state’s gasoline tax. He did offer that ending diversion of gas tax funds to pay for State Police operating costs, which is permitted by law but controversial because it leaves fewer matching funds for transportation.