Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why are the Democrats ceding the State Treasurer's race?

What does the Louisiana State Treasurer do all day?
When Louisiana voters choose a new state treasurer this fall, it's likely they won't have much information about what the person will actually be doing. Of all the elected positions in state government, the treasurer's duties might be the most opaque.

The treasurer can't do much without the permission of the Legislature, governor or other Bond Commission members. The position doesn't call for much direct interaction with voters, either.

Yet the treasurer handles billions of dollars in public money. And John Kennedy was one of the state's most popular elected officials during almost two decades in the job, before he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Both Kennedy and Mary Landrieu moved on to the Senate from the treasurer's perch.
That article goes on to helpfully describe the Treasurer's duties which basically amount to coming into the office every few weeks to sign some checks. Ironically, it's the relative lack of importance that makes this such an attractive office to ambitious Louisiana pols. The responsibilities are few and thus accountability is negligible. But it's a statewide office so just the process of getting elected to it is a significant networking and base building exercise.  The successful candidate establishes contacts and name recognition in every corner of the state. He or she then has access to a big public platform from which to advocate for, well, whatever gets more attention, ideally.  It's basically politics for politics' sake and a pretty nifty stepping stone to higher office.

So it's a discouraging measure of the state Democratic Party's impotence that it hasn't jumped at the bench strengthening opportunity provided by this year's vacancy.  Rather than promoting an up and comer from its own ranks or, failing that, at least supporting the Democrat who did qualify to run, the party leadership is playing defense.

Quick roll call on that host committee. Bishop is the 4th District State Senator and a Vice Chair of the State Democratic Party.  Morrell is the 3rd District State Senator and for a time was said to be considering a run for mayor. Carter is the 7th District State Senator and has been a mayoral candidate and city councilman in the past. There's a Democrat running but these guys don't care about that. They're promoting Republican and fellow State Senator Riser because they see State Rep. John Schroder as a more significant threat.  Most of us, though, would see little difference in Schroder or Riser getting a term as the state's official concern troll.  Here is what a Riser complaint agenda would look like.
If elected, Riser said he would continue to fight for gun rights, restrictions on undocumented immigrants and for divesting from countries that might support terrorism. The treasurer has nothing to do with gun laws or immigration, which Riser admits, but he said he would use the position as a platform to advocate for causes that he supports.

"I'll be outside the treasurer's course and scope as an individual defending the 2nd Amendment rights," he said.
Probably as election day gets closer we'll hear more about how smart and strategic all of this is.  But really it's just another missed opportunity for a state party continuing to suffer from a lack of depth and purpose. 

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