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Story Archives: Is it 1999 all over again?
|Is it 1999 all over again?|
If you remember the 1999 governor's race, you will recall incumbent Gov. Mike Foster buried his chief opponent, Congressman William Jefferson of New Orleans.
Riding fairly high in the court of pubic opinion at the time, Foster sailed into office for a second term with 62 percent of the vote. Jefferson was no match, but he was the only Democrat in Louisiana in 1999 who was willing to serve as the party's sacrificial lamb in opposing a popular incumbent Republican.
Could the 2011 gubernatorial election play out like it's 1999 all over again?
For starters, it would depend on whether the state Democrat Party can convince anyone of substance – I mean anyone – to take on Gov. Bobby Jindal, who Foster hired in 1996 to serve as secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals. Jindal was 25 years old then.
The Democrats have an opponent for Jindal, alright, but she isn't what we would describe as a serious candidate. The state party isn't falling over itself to support her either.
Her name is Tara Hollis, a school teacher from Haynesville.
Hollis says she used to be a fan of Jindal, but she claims Jindal has failed to adequately support public education in Louisiana since taking office in January 2008. Let's interpret that to mean that Hollis is upset with Jindal because he hasn't given the education community a blank check with no strings attached on how to spend it.
With little to no name recognition throughout Louisiana and literally no campaign money to buy it, Hollis' prospects of unseating Jindal in the Oct. 22 primary are slim to none. Closer to none would be more accurate.
There's been talk of state Sen. Rob Marionneaux possibly taking the bait to take on Jindal, but he's been crawfishing of late, telling the media he's still pondering the race. It's a little late for that. Either he's in or he's out.
Even if Marionneaux decided today to oppose Jindal, the term-limited Democrat from Maringouin would face a decidedly uphill battle. He hasn't put a campaign organization together and the state Democrat Party can't do it as it could in years past. Besides, Marionneaux has some ethical issues wrapped around his neck that would sandbag his candidacy before it could possibly get off the ground.
So why is Jindal sitting in the driver's seat, steam rolling ahead toward another term in office?
Because Jindal has almost $9 million on hand to fully finance his campaign apparatus. That $9 million is more than enough money, too, to answer any outlandish accusations any candidate could possibly make via the airwaves.
There also isn't a hot-button issue for a candidate to lay claim to and successfully use it against Jindal. Even if there was a hot topic to beat Jindal over the head with, who's the candidate who could capitalize on it and where would the candidate get the money to do it?
Twenty years ago, it was almost impossible for a Republican to get elected state-wide in Louisiana. Today, the opposite is true. Democrats, for the most part, do not resonate with a majority of Louisianians. When we think Democrat in Louisiana, we think of Barack Obama, who is about as popular among white voters in Louisiana as the devil himself.
In many ways, that's a shame. We need two viable parties in Louisiana. We need to be exposed to a healthy discussion of the issues so voters can make informed decisions on which direction they want the state to take.
But wasn't that the way it was for years in Louisiana when Democrats dominated politics from the courthouse to the Capitol?
I suppose turnabout is fair play.