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Edwards victory no model for Democrat wins

The narrow reelection of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards does nothing to change the trajectory of electoral politics both in Louisiana and in America as a whole.

One school of thought, which sticks up its head every time a Democrat at odds with his national party on a few issues wins in a jurisdiction that favors Republicans, evinces hope that Democrats as a whole can learn from the experience to steer the nation as a whole from its lean to the right that favors Republicans. We heard a version of this last week from my counterpart on radio host/entrepreneur Jim Engster’s Talk Louisiana program on Baton Rouge FM station WRKF, Mary-Patricia Wray.

Wray played a prominent role in Edwards’ 2015 campaign, but since has moved on to her own consulting business. In a discussion about the future beyond the (then undecided) governor’s race, she spoke that an Edwards win might serve as a model for Democrats going forward. She likened partisan politics and the median voter to a “pendulum,” and that the model presented might shift that pendulum representing Democrats closer to matching the median voter.


Faux conservatives crucial to Edwards win

In the 2019 Louisiana governor elections post-mortems, analysts have made a number of valid points about base activation and campaign quality (or lack thereof) to explain the narrow reelection of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. But they miss the most critical aspect of all: how a small cadre of those who call themselves conservatives ended up pulling the lever for an unambiguously liberal politician when presented with a solid, mainstream, and credible alternative in Republican Eddie Rispone decided the contest.

To explain the phenomenon, two case studies suffice. We begin with Rod Dreher, who has pretty good conservative credentials. He’s published in such places of superior conservative analysis as National Review, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, and the Washington Times. But, as he explained in his American Conservative column, he voted for Edwards.

That turns out to be a head-scratcher, to say the least:


Lessons from the 2019 LA governor's race

Louisiana learned some lessons from the conclusion of 2019 state elections, primarily focused on the gubernatorial contest – largely unflattering, but with some hope for the distant future.

Personalism still matters more than issues and ideology. Louisiana’s electorate to a degree not seen elsewhere in the Union places its emphasis on candidate images at the expense of issue preferences in its voting decisions. The state’s history of paternalistic government, its population’s lower levels of educational attainment, and its relative lack of economic development and the insularity that produces all contribute to this being out of step with the nation as a whole and even makes it distinct compared to its regional neighbors.

Louisiana voters, even as this aspect of the political culture continues to erode, disproportionately don’t incorporate and analyze information about candidate records and preferences in making their decisions, preferring to supplanting that with vague perceptions (often influenced by negative advertising that has little to do with reality) about candidates as leaders and providers of things. In essence, the fog created by personalistic appeals obscures the ability of many to vote in their own self-interests (such as this guy, who should know better).


Results reconfirm LA as banana republic

Yesterday, Louisiana proved it’s not yet ready for primetime because, as the state’s junior senator suggested, too many Louisianans are happy with crappy.

Runoffs for 2019 state elections could have resulted in a different story. At their conclusion, had several things happened the erosion of living standards and opportunity for the majority that begun under Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards could have commenced. Tax relief, putting government on a small diet, more efficient use of funds, increased personal responsibility from those receiving government largesse, fiscal reform that rewards initiative rather than encouraging dependency and rent-seeking, and tort reform would have followed had conservative Republicans hit the perfecta.

They almost got it. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will continue to implement education reform based upon accountability and choice as intended under reforms instituted by GOP former Gov. Bobby Jindal, with the election of Republican Ronnie Morris to District 6 that will give that bloc a healthy majority. The Louisiana Supreme Court will retain a majority open to curtailing tort overreach and jackpot justice with the election of Republican Will Crain to District 1.