By Robert Mann
“I advise anyone who thinks he knows something about politics to go down to Louisiana and take a postgraduate course.” --Texas U.S. Sen. Tom Connally, 1932.
If you are obsessed with politics, Louisiana is the place for you – especially over the next four years.
In that time, Louisiana voters will choose a new governor and elect (or re-elect) two U.S.
Yes, it is early.
Yes, no one should forget the horrible consequences of letting Bobby Jindal run wild through the next two years. We needn’t look past that to consider the next step. The Governor’s mansion is the most powerful office in the State of Louisiana. The wide-ranging powers emanating from the Capitol’s forth floor control nearly every aspect of Government through direct, or through fiscal, levers. Every Mayor, Police Juror, and Sheriff bow before the all powerful dictates of the Louisiana Governor. By virtue of history and tradition, he controls the legislature, which means he controls the purse. He sets the agenda, constructs the model budget and heavily influences the capital outlay to build new infrastructure for which local officials cut ribbons. Moreover, the Governor makes over 1700 direct appointments to boards and commissions all over the state. These range from the benign to the highly sought-after LSU board or Board of Regents spots.
No one person makes more impact on our daily lives in Louisiana than the Governor. And that’s why the next Governor is so important. We cannot get this one wrong.
Mitch Landrieu is the Democrats best hope to be Governor in 2015.
With all due respect to Rep. John Bel Edwards, we don’t see another viable candidate. By all accounts, his reign as Mayor of New Orleans has been spectacularly successful. If you’ve visited the city recently like we have, you’ll note it is alight with improvements. Mitch continues to be very popular to a broad swath of New Orleanians as well.
More importantly, we know Mitch Landrieu has already shown he can be a fundraising powerhouse. According to the Times-Picayune, Mitch has raised over $1.6m since he won the New Orleans Mayor’s race in 2010. Let’s see how he compares to other statewide potentials:
|Campaign finance reports for 2012|
|Gov. Bobby Jindal||$1,301,483.46||$1,420,185.06||$3,793,100.76|
|Treasurer John Kennedy||$579,503.14||$151,688.66||$2,333,570.49|
|New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu||$756,102.78||$259,517.73||$1,009,716.04|
|Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne||$831,325.56||$161,278.52||$717,825.45|
|Attorney General Buddy Caldwell||$17,410.01||$68,939.71||$406,557.48|
|Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain||$351,606.92||$116,180.01||$235,426.91|
(from the Times-Picayune)
As we can see here, there’s only one official that is eligible to run for Governor in 2015 that has more money on hand than Mitch Landrieu. That’s Treasurer John Kennedy, who Mitch’s sister Mary spanked in the 2008 US Senate race.
So, we know that Mitch Landrieu is well-financed, how does he look electorally against statewide foes?
Back in 2007, Mitch was running for reelection for Lt. Governor, the State’s cultural ambassador and leader of the office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Here are those results:
|Lieutenant Governor 2007
All 3967 precincts reporting
Click here for Results by Parish
|Gary J. Beard (R)||10.55%||130876|
|Norris “Spanky” Gros, Jr. (N)||1.29%||15965|
|Thomas D. Kates (N)||1.25%||15555|
|“Sammy” Kershaw (R)||30.30%||375727|
|“Mitch” Landrieu (D)||56.60%||701887|
Country music star Sammy Kershaw couldn’t keep Mitch from winning in the primary, with 701887 votes. Hmm, how many votes did the multi-million dollar campaign of Bobby Jindal garner that year in the primary?
|“Bobby” Jindal (R)||53.88%||699275|
Sure, it’s not apples to apples. But the simple fact that Democrat Mitch Landrieu won 2000 more votes than the political “rising star” Bobby Jindal earned is sizable. Remember, Jindal was seen as less of a partisan figure back then, and many Democrats considered his candidacy a page-turner. Jindal was considered an “ethics champ” with pragmatic, technocratic governing philosophies focused on results. Of course, from day 1, he largely abandoned this philosophy and became a screeching partisan conservative focused only on his ambition for even higher office. Under these circumstances, the fact that Mitch Landrieu still roughly equaled Jindal despite his party “disadvantage” and the moribund status of the Democratic Party in 2007 (not to mention the still persistent Katrina displacement of African-American voters in the Landrieu’s New Orleans stronghold) means one very clear thing: Mitch Landrieu has continued to maintain a strong statewide popularity that makes him extremely competitive in ways that other Democrats are not.
Flash-forward to today. Let’s go to the polling! From PPP earlier this month:
Louisiana could have a fun race for Governor in 2015. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is seen pretty positively statewide, with 49% of voters rating him favorably to 26% with an unfavorable opinion. In a hypothetical contest with Senator David Vitter, who has a 46/38 approval rating, the two would be tied at 44%. Landrieu would have a slight edge over Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne at 44-42. If Landrieu decided to run it appears that it would be a competitive race.
Well then. Let’s review. That’s Vitter 44%, Landrieu 44%. Before the campaigns. Considering how Red Louisiana has become (although it might be trending in the other direction). Even Vitter’s own polling firm can’t soup the numbers to make Mitch noncompetitive:
The Magellan poll, conducted Oct. 2 through Oct. 4 with 2,682 likely voters covered a number of topics, including presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections. The margin of error is 1.9 percent… 31.1% picked Vitter; 29.4% picked Landrieu; and 16.7 percent were undecided or wanted none of the choices.
Two ties. Looks very interesting, doesn’t it?
Once the natural disaster that is the Jindal Administration is done rolling through, we’ll need a thorough cleansing, followed by a long slog to attempt to repair the Jindal-sized crater we’ll be situated in. From what we understand, this sounds eerily like the situation Mayor Landrieu found when he arrived in New Orleans in 2010. Like Ray Nagin before him, Bobby Jindal will have served two terms full of promised-reform and certified-incompetence. Another clean up job for Mitch. But one voters seem at least willing to consider handing over to New Orleans’ Mayor.