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Veterans' Day, 2022

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Friday, Nov. 11 being Veterans' Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.


In NWLA elections, party matters most, usually

It may not hold true everywhere, but in northwest Louisiana’s two most populous parishes for local elections party now matters the most, but it and race as decisive factors in elections can be eclipsed by candidate quality.

Caddo and Bossier Parish school board elections along with Shreveport city council contests provide a wealth of examples confirming this. The 12 Bossier Parish School Board districts featured just two elections, but perhaps these most graphically demonstrated the strength of party identification.

District 11 served up a repeat of last year’s special election, pitting now incumbent Republican Robert Bertrand against independent Miki Royer. Last year, Bertrand took home 73 percent of the 932 cast, wahen Royer ran as a Democrat. Perhaps drawing a lesson from that, she shed her partisan label this year, but it didn’t help much even as the electorate increase by over 800 she only inched up to 34 percent in a district where almost 40 percent of the electorate registered as Republican.


State races confirm decline of white LA Democrats

The evidence that the white populist liberals who have controlled Louisiana Democrats from going on a century have run their course presented by the party’s candidates in federal electoral contests this week only was reinforced by the electoral showings of their state office candidates.

A few races, regular for Public Service Commission and special for state Senate, not only reinforced the minority party status of Louisiana Democrats but also heralded a continuing change in leadership away from traditional powerbrokers made up of white officeholders in government and party and their donors and contributors drawn from the ranks of courthouse hangers-on, trial lawyers, unions, and other special interests. In the U.S. Senate race, their diminished power showed when not only did Republican Sen. John Kennedy pull more than 60 percent of the vote, also their preferred Democrat contender finished third, well behind upstart/outsider Democrat Gary Chambers who improved on his third place finish in last year’s Second Congressional District contest.

Democrats only won in that majority-minority U.S. House district, returning Rep. Troy Carter, with Republican incumbents easily winning all others (one faced no competition). But that’s the only thing that went right for the party establishment.

As it turned out for the state contests, perhaps only one went as expected, where GOP Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis easily fended off a challenge from a field without a Democrat whose competitors hardly campaigned. The other PSC race in the body’s only majority-minority district laid bare intraparty rivalry among Democrats. Although black, Public Service Commissioner Lambert Bossiere III and his family have firm ties with party mandarins and while on the PSC he has fronted efforts to privilege renewable energy efforts that faction supports.

This it seems was not enough for climate alarmists who threw multiple black challengers out there. Altogether, they held Bossiere below an absolute majority to force a December runoff with their preferred candidate, leftist interest group administrator Davante Lewis, who squeaked past the others to join him. Bossiere well outspent the pack and should have enough in the tank to triumph, but his inability to win outright shows that more radical outsiders have gained traction on the establishment.

The New Orleans-based (with a slight slice of Jefferson Parish) Senate District 5 pitted two of the most leftist Democrats in the Louisiana House of Representatives against each other. In fact, only one major difference existed between black Royce Duplessis and white Mandie Landry: their skin color. As it is, the party activists that Landry hangs around with are more often with the establishment than those with whom Duplessis consorts.

The district had a large majority of Democrats and a slight white majority but only a plurality. Yet Duplessis won by capturing almost all black voters in heavily-black precincts while hanging tough in clear majority white ones, often matching Landry’s totals or coming close to those. He took advantage of wokeness and the white guilt it spawns in those of that race with that attitude, a campaign playbook for this kind of district that calls for reinforcing black solidarity while knowing leftist whites are more likely to vote for a black candidate than blacks will vote for a white. It’s a recipe that will put black Democrats in power at the expense of establishment whites.

Yet the most telling and discouraging result for the establishment came in the Senate District 17 race between Democrat state Rep. Jeremy LaCombe and GOP businessman Caleb Kleinpeter. The sprawling district north and west of Baton Rouge has a plurality of Democrats and about 35 percent black registration and is the kind Democrats must win in order to prevent supermajority rule by legislative Republicans, if not have a majority themselves. Its previous occupant had entered as a Democrat but then switched to the GOP.

With his 2019 district win and subsequent House experience, many observers considered LaCombe the favorite and perhaps able to win without a runoff. He also raised $300,000 and spent over half, perhaps holding a bit back for an expected December election, which was $100,00 more raised and $50,000 more spent than Kleinpeter.

But when the ballots were counted, he didn’t even make a runoff as Kleinpeter took the outright majority. Not only does this essentially lock in Kleinpeter, who articulates much more conservatism than his predecessor, for as many as 13 years to the seat, but it also brings into question whether LaCombe can survive against a Republican in a reelection attempt next year in a district with a lower proportion of blacks. (It’s quite possible his vote to uphold a gubernatorial veto in 2021 of a bill to prevent males from competing in all-female sports played a significant role in his defeat then, and perhaps will next year.)

He may become a statistic most closely associated with the decline of establishment Democrats: the almost total disappearance of whites of that label elected to the state’s majoritarian institutions or at the federal level. None of eight are in Congress, only two out of 20 are on the executive branch side, and the party has just two of 39 in the Senate and seven of 105 in the House. After the dust settles next year, all those state totals probably will be halved or more.

As national Democrats go further off the deep end and state Democrat activists loyally follow, even as the party continues its decline the influence of blacks in it will surge while that of whites is on a trajectory to all but disappear.


Federal LA results blow to Democrat leaders

Federal elections on Nov. 8 in Louisiana yielded mostly predictable results, which meant the crisis among the state’s Democrats intensified dramatically.

None of the federal level races were expected to be competitive, and that’s what transpired. Four of the five congressional districts at issue (in the Fourth District Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate against Republican Rep. Mike Johnson, and nobody else contested it) had solid GOP voting majorities going in, with the remaining Second District dominated by Democrats who didn’t send up any competition against the Sixth District’s Republican Rep. Garret Graves.

Thus, out of the three others, two drew a couple of weak Democrats and the First District’s GOP Rep. Steve Scalise drew just one. There turned out the Democrat who did the best of the bunch, best known for pushing a bizarre narrative that in order to kill babies you had to have one by cutting a campaign commercial that faked real-time coverage of her giving birth. She drew just 25 percent, although in the Fifth District Democrats combined there did a bit better while GOP Rep. Julia Letlow cruised to a win.


Ignore distorted criminal justice change claims

Don’t drink the Flavor Aid when it comes to criminal justice changes made in Louisiana five years ago, which when properly analyzed haven’t demonstrated significant savings or made Louisiana any safer, if not the reverse.

Back then, initial efforts commenced to decrease incarceration levels in the state by reducing punishments and not imprisoning more nonviolent offenders. Supposed savings in part would go to measures to reduce recidivism and assisting juvenile offender programs, and the main gatekeeper and partial beneficiary of the shift in dollars, the Department of Corrections, issued a report alleging over the span $152.6 million in savings attributed to the changes.

It concluded this from the declining number and length of incarcerations, with nonviolent criminals dropping by over half from 2016-21 although violent criminals' numbers ticked up by almost 10 percent, resulting in just over a 10 percent reduction in state prisoners and around 35 percent in local jails. Statutorily shorter sentences and increased use of probation decreased time spent imprisoned except for nonviolent sex offenders.


No accident Democrat apparatus pushing Wilson

As their power hangs in the balance, establishment, mostly white, Democrats in Louisiana have learned from their recent mistakes and seek a preemptive strike to shore up their eroding position by floating, with media cooperation, a preferred blue checkmark gubernatorial candidate for next year.

Make no mistake, the party powerbrokers are pushing Department of Transportation and Development Sec. Shawn Wilson to run in 2023, with the initial sortie through sympathetic leftist media figures. It began with the host of the only left-wing talk show in the state whose audience cracks four digits, Talk Louisiana’s Jim Engster, which allowed passing the baton to LAPolitics newsletter producer Jeremy Alford, and subsequently picked up by Tyler Bridges at the Baton Rouge Advocate, all in the past couple of weeks.

Party leaders in elected and party office have a quandary about next year’s contest. The lightning permitting the insertion of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards into office they know unlikely will strike twice so they could pursue an appeasement strategy by tacitly supporting a more moderate Republican candidate that gives them a decent chance of victory and at least some influence over policy over the next four years after.