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Jindal leaves history-making, consequential legacy

Almost 20 years ago I remember reading a news story about former Gov. Mike Foster appointing an untested young guy not long out of Oxford as Louisiana’s health secretary. I wondered who this guy Bobby Jindal was to get such an important gig. Foster gushed with such praise about him that it seemed he had come to save the state.

Now as Jindal prepares to leave the Governor’s Mansion, through his tenure in that job, as head of today’s University of Louisiana System, and as governor, the state still needs saving from lots of things that only will multiply with his successor. But he made progress, and well before I retire from academia scholars will consider him one of the five most consequential governors in the state’s history.

Academicians holding the political beliefs they do, most will pan his policies, but they will be unable to dismiss his impact, one that at its heart abnegates what they typically support programmatically. The similarly-situated mainstream media, when the occasion rises to discuss his legacy, will find themselves in the same boat. Jindal’s tenure, best understood in context, marks the decisive turn that eventually frees the state’s political culture from its populist ethos.


Senate favorite Fleming's vacating opens ups CD 4

While north Louisiana might claim its first U.S. Senator in two decades, the chase for that seems certain to produce a new U.S. Representative in the northwest part of the state.

With Republican Rep. John Fleming formally announcing that he will pursue the seat of retiring Sen. David Vitter, he vacates his safe Fourth District post. That puts him up against Rep. Charles Boustany, 2014 candidate Rob Maness, and former Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, and others that could join in include Treasurer John Kennedy, state Rep. Paul Hollis, and Public Service Commissioners Scott Angelle and Eric Skrmetta, all Republicans.

Democrats could provide another north Louisiana option if the area's Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell enters the race, as he presently contemplates. However, a Democrat stands little chance of winning despite the recent upset that won former state Rep. John Bel Edwards the governorship. Senate contests attract an electorate more favorable to the GOP and bring to the forefront issues that in recent decades have favored Republicans in races for Congress. What a serious Democrat could do is make a runoff election and hand the highest-placed GOP finisher in the general election the victory, unless lightning strikes twice.


C.B. Forgotston, 1945-2016

Sadly, C.B. Forgotston took his own life earlier this week. The end to his commentary as a result seems consistent with the continuing shift in Louisiana’s political landscape away from a populism based upon the primacy of personality to one where conflict revolves more around issues and ideology, a process he hastened.

He and I communicated sporadically since 2001 and in a small way he inspired to create this blog. Since age 19 I have written opinion pieces for a variety of newspapers and newsletters, for a large portion of that period on a weekly basis although for some stretches only occasionally. In 2002 I made a foray into the Internet-only world through the old PoliticsLA site and then into BayouBuzz, then still submitting every week.

At that point, C.B. had produced his short, almost staccato, blog posts at relatively short intervals between for some years, and got me to considering that I could do something of the same frequency, even though it had been two decades since I had written on a daily basis, during the semester I served as editor of The Oklahoma Daily. As readers of both of us know, and perhaps befitting my journalism and subsequent academic backgrounds, typically pieces here come out five days a week, one a day, and feature greater depth and analysis than did his. Regardless, that he could find something to say on a very regular basis regarding Louisiana politics made me think I could do the same.


Skepticism warranted that LA Democrats change

When this space recently discussed the future of Louisiana’s Democrats and considered whether Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards would involve himself to moderate the party, it seems some activists had read the piece and/or had directed their thinking in that direction already. But even if the less-liberal wing of the party succeeded in taking control, whether its adherents could push the party into an electable position remains highly questionable.

A move does seem afoot to dump later this year state Sen. Karen Peterson, one of the few legislators more to the political left than Edwards, as party chairwoman. That decision will occur after the March elections of the state central committee. However, as over half of those qualifying ended up unopposed, a good picture of whether that may happen already has emerged.

With 106 votes needed for a majority to elect an officer (although theoretically because of the simple majority quorum requirement as few as 56 could do the trick) even though Peterson, a black woman, represents the far left of the political spectrum, elements wishing to moderate the party may find that difficult, perhaps impossible, to do. Already with certainty blacks will occupy 90 seats (if state Rep. Stephen Ortego withdraws as he has indicated from his contest), 23 others could win seats of which 9, given the candidates running and district demographics, should win, and an additional one likely should get appointed (if no candidates run for a seat, the central committee may appoint someone and likely from majority-black districts it would tab a black), making almost certainly a minimum of 100 votes backing Peterson (and because officer elections almost certainly will occur before filling vacancies, assuming everyone shows up a quorum she will need only 91, meaning she should have the votes already for reelection).