Saturday, October 04, 2014

Who is running for Governor?

As many of you know, there are two dominant political parties in Louisiana.  They are Oil (O) and Tourism (T).  Sometimes these parties come into conflict but often they operate according to a remarkable spirit of bi-partisanship.  Hell, the Landrieus happen to have one sibling in each.

Anyway, I thought it would be helpful to list the candidates for Governor in 2015 according to party affiliation.  Doing this off the top of my head so let me know if I miss somebody.

Senator David Vitter (O) Vitter is obviously the front-runner right now. He led all other major candidates in hypothetical head to head matchups according to the PPP poll released earlier this week. All of this despite the fact that some may still assume Vitter's "serious sins"* might represent some sort of vulnerability.  This is nonsense, of course.  Vitter has already competed in and handily won a statewide election since those stories first surfaced. His conservative base is willing to look past it and vote for him.  And the rest of us should look past it and vote against him.  Lord knows there are plenty of reasons. 

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne (T) According to that PPP poll, Dardenne is looking second best.  I know that poll isn't particularly good at giving us a read right now. But those head to head numbers are interesting nonetheless. Dardenne's most distinguishing accomplishments as of late are as follows.

1) He's looking more and more like actor Rowan Atkinson (AKA "Mr. Bean") every day.

2) He recently completed construction a model of the Native American ruins at Poverty Point which he made on the floor of his office out of Mounds bars.

Dardenne, Jindal, and Vitter have been engaged in a three way tug of war over leadership of the state Republican Party for years now. Jindal is on his way out so now that's about to become a two-way tug.. or at least it was until this happened.

Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (O) entered the race this week. Angelle will likely take over whatever's left of Jindal's power and add his own geographic base. Clancy Dubos sums up the situation well here.
His announcement for governor triggered the predictable criticism that he’s too close to Jindal. Some even speculated that he is Jindal’s anointed candidate. He and Jindal use the same chief fundraiser, Allee Bautsch, and earlier this year OnMessage did a poll for him. OnMessage in Louisiana is led by Jindal consigliere Timmy Teepell. Angelle says Baton Rouge consultant Roy Fletcher will run his campaign for governor and that OnMessage will have no role going forward.

In his announcement, Angelle said he will be “more focused on getting us across the goal line rather than grabbing the headline” — a clear swipe at Jindal, who frequently grandstands. He also portrays himself as a political pragmatist, not a Jindal-like ideologue.

That’s a good start, but it doesn’t remove the Jindal Factor from the conversation. You can bet Vitter, who despises Jindal, will spend whatever it takes to hang the wildly unpopular governor around Angelle’s neck. For his part, Angelle will have to separate himself politically and philosophically from Jindal at every turn.
In 2011, Angelle received an award for "environmental stewardship."  It was given to him by some oil lobbyists. Sure, that's confusing. But, as Jindal explained that day, the"stewardship" in this case meant fighting for more drilling.
Aaron Viles, deputy director of the Gulf Restoration Network, questioned whether it is ever appropriate for an association to give an award to someone who oversees the regulation of its members.

"Mid Continent giving an environmental award to Scott Angelle is like GE giving a nuclear safety award to the leadership of Fukushima Prefecture," Viles said.

But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who handed out the award, said in a statement that "Scott has been a warrior for our people and our coast."

"He has fought tirelessly to help get out people back to work after the federal government implemented a job-killing deepwater drilling moratorium and a de facto moratorium on shall water drilling," the governor said.
State Rep. John Bel Edwards (TL): Edwards doesn't belong to either major party. Instead, he's a Trial Lawyer.. a minor but not entirely inconsequential force in state politics.  Take a minute to review the saga of the BP claims center process for a pretty neat example of what they do.

To his credit, Edwards has opposed Jindal's attempts to politicize flood control boards on behalf of the oil industry. He has attempted in vain to force Louisiana to accept Medicaid expansion funds the Governor has rejected. Recently he's been leading the fight to keep what's left of the state Office of Group Benefits from falling apart.

He's also more or less a non-factor in the race. At least according to the polls he is despite being the only Democrat running.  (But remember the premise of this post is Democrats and Republicans aren't the parties that matter in Louisiana anyway.)  Also that could change. For instance...

Mayor Mitch Landrieu (T): Will Mitch run!!??  I'm still thinking no.  But I feel like my opinion is in the minority so he goes on this list anyway.  I don't think Mitch can win.  He matches up poorly head to head with the major candidates.  And he's already a well known item statewide which means he doesn't have any room to grow. Plus, given the enmity his term as mayor has spawned in certain quarters, I'm not even sure he can muster the kind of numbers he would need out of New Orleans.

Landrieu would save himself some headaches by staying put as mayor, continuing on the Aspen-corporate-neoliberalism celebrity mayor speaking circuit, and just biding his time to spend his retirement sitting on the NOTMC or some other tourism oriented quasi-public board.

But people still think he's gonna run for Governor. No idea why he'd want that.

Ret. Lt. Gen. Russell Honore (G): The G stand for Green Army which is the environmental activist organization Honore heads up.   In other words, he is utterly irrelevant in state politics. For this reason alone he shouldn't even think about running. Also he's been told no.
When Honore began taking questions from the audience, the topic quickly turned to whether he would run for governor himself. Although Honore reportedly told a crowd at the University of Louisiana at Monroe last week that these issues “tempt” him to run, he downplayed the chances of a gubernatorial bid on Monday.

“I’m not running because my wife said, ‘No,’” Honore said. “I think about it, I take a good nap and I’m over it.”
@Biscuit4LA (D): It's always possible.  The premise of any Biscuit for Gov campaign is that he is as strong a candidate as any other Democrat involved. This was actually his last public statement on the matter back in March.

And since he appears here as the only nominal Democrat listed, we can expect that he isn't ruling out another run. But there's plenty of time left for to round out the field so we'll have to wait and see.

*That's actually a pretty crappy Bob Mann column. It asserts several nonsense ideas about the "dignity of office" and.. as Mann often does.. greatly inflates the seriousness of Edwin Edwards's supposed crimes. But I don't have time to go into all of that right now. 

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