LA-GOV: Republicans Splinter; Boasso Surges

Crossposted at Daily Kingfish

The coverage of L’Affaire Vitter is just beginning to have its discursive effects: the Republican Party is splintered, and Walter Boasso is experiencing the first phase of what will be an unstoppable surge.  According to an Anzalone-Liszt poll cited by Steven Sabludowsky of The Bayou Buzz,

“Boasso has more than tripled his current vote since May, moving from 6% to 21% with just four weeks of a moderate television buy. Currently Jindal leads with 52%, followed by Boasso (21%), Campbell (6%) and Georges (1%). One-in-five voters are still undecided (21%).

Not only has Boasso moved up 15 points, the undecided vote has increased by 7 points, from 14% to 21%. The Boasso television has softened Jindal and Campbell’s support and moved some of their votes to the undecided column. (Campbell’s support is down to 6%, from 9% in May).”

Walter Boasso educates the voters; Walter Boasso’s numbers grow.  And I imagine they will continue to grow once voters realize “Bobby” Jindal’s misleading message of ethics and change has no real empirical basis.  That Foster Campbell and John Georges are yet to air television commercials should be kept in mind.  In other words, Jindal will find himself in what will be a bitter but entertaining runoff.

Also interesting in Sabludowsky’s article is following report from the Jindal rally in Kenner:

But, after attending the Jindal rally in Kenner Louisiana (a suburb of New Orleans), there was no question that anger was in the air.  One very prominent Republican leader told me off the record that Vitter only cares about himself.  So, why Vitter chose one hour before the Jindal rally escapes many.

Kenner is the base of Jindal and Vitter.  If voters are confused and exasperated in Jefferson Parish, I can only wonder what they are saying in other areas of the state.  I know voters are not terribly pleased with either of the ethically and morally challenged Republicans in my neck of the woods.

Sabludowsky’s claim that Jefferson Parish voters are splintered and upset is corroborated by Jeff Crouère’s discussion of how all the media attention directed to the Vitter press conference in Metairie upset Jindal partisans, as they feel their candidate is entitled to all the coverage.  If this has created a Republican rift as Crouère alleges, Jindal may have a problem consolidating the Republican vote by October.

The Governor’s race is far from over, mes amis.  Georges and Campbell are not yet on the air, and Boasso is still introducing himself to voters.  To use of trite phrase that is the rallying cry of Daily Kingfish: Laissez les bons temps rouler!


LA-GOV: Campaign Season Begins

I am actually quite fond of this one minute, introductory commercial: Boasso covers the issues; he announces his party affiliation; the commercial is playful but substantive; Boasso outlines a biography of success, Louisiana style; and it is organized and coherent.  What do all of you think?  What are your impressions of Walter Boasso? 

Here is the link:


Watch the video entitled “Big Challenges.”

LA-GOV: FACT CHECK: Blanco WILL NOT Run for Reelection

Originally posted at Daily Kingfish

Diaries have surfaced at national blogs such as Swing State Project, Blue Sunbelt and Daily Kos claiming Kathleen Babineaux Blanco might run for reelection.  According to Blanco, she will not run for reelection.  I quote from her speech today before the state legislature:

Last month, I announced that I would not run for Governor again. In spite of the media speculation, let me announce one more time that I believe there’s life after politics, and I’m going to have one! I hope my decision allows us to focus on what’s best for Louisiana and not on election-year politics.

One can listen to the audio of the speech at the courtesy of We Saw That at this address.

LA-GOV: Reading Walter Boasso (D-Arabi), Reading a Southern Republican’s Party Switch

First posted at Daily Kingfish, a Louisiana political blog started by two SSP members from Louisiana.

This election cycle could not be more frustrating and confusing, and I hope I am the only one who is already exhausted.  But at least our state Party has not stacked the deck in favor of one candidate who has a vague campaign message full of platitudes with no solutions and no unifying theme, unless an identity suspended in quotation marks, “Bobby,” constitutes a theme.  To me it appears to be a floating signifier, a mere vocalization that refers to no mental concepts and to no objects that exist in the tangible world.  Republican bloggers must be really bored with the rehashed and revisited rhetoric of 2003 with all the same tropes of Democratic corruption and all the same idle crowing about the wonderful ideas ready to spring from the intelligent mind of “Bobby,” as if he were a modern day Zeus.  How many times can a blogger type, “It is not who you know; it is what you know?”  How many times can one beg readers “not to vote for ideology but for competence?”  How many times does one have to avoid discussing the legislative record of someone who mindlessly voted for the national GOP’s disastrous policies 97% of the time?  How many times can one use the same sheet of toilet paper? 

Because Ryan has already penned a diary on Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, I will deal with the rhetoric surrounding the latest Democratic candidate to announce: Walter Boasso, former Republican but now Democratic state Senator from Arabi, St. Bernard Parish.

Louisiana politics is never boring, and this cycle will be no exception.  So the Southern Strategy is ready to enter phase 4 and swallow Louisiana once and for all.  Democrats, the LCRM claims, will lose seats or be pressured to switch parties, and “Bobby” will be rewarded with a Republican majority in the state House on the day of his coronation, a ceremony to be funded with the precious budget surplus the Republicans ostensibly want to protect.  Republican realignment, we are told, is dawning over the horizon.  But how does this square with the novelty of a Republican state Senator in a Deep South state switching to the Democratic Party?  Boasso’s move is somewhat anomalous, and if one chooses to think about this phenomenon historically, it may signal the obsolescence of the 40 year effort of the Republican Party to colonize the South.  And Boasso may be in good hands.  For on the other end of the South, we have a new Democratic US Senator in Virginia named Jim Webb, who switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party last year, when he won his Senate race by a nailbiting 7,000 votes.

So Boasso’s switch may have a broader significance lost on those who are focused on the empirical and on the partisan and not on the historical.  Do not expect LSU – Shreveport Political Science Professor Jeffery Sadow to engage in such an abstract mode of thinking, for that may require some thought and effort.  But to return to the point of this essay, will Boasso exploit it?  Will Boasso use his party switch to his advantage and to the advantage of the Louisiana Democratic Party?  Is his switch a harbinger for something much larger than himself? 

According to Boasso,

[T]oday I have rejoined the Democratic Party because [sic] I believe that running as a Democrat will give me the best opportunity to push an agenda for change and reform.  The people of Louisiana, regardless of party affiliation, are in search of a leader, and are [sic] eager to stand side by side with someone willing to challenge the establishment and reform our state.

An interesting transvaluation of Republican tropes: reform, change and leadership are now in the purview of the Democratic Party, and the values of the silent majority are to be found underneath the Democratic umbrella, not the dysfunctional, slipshod apparatus brandished by the Republicans.  And state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington is right there in Boasso’s big tent.  Responding to a question about Boasso’s party switch, Whittington quips, “The more the merrier.”  Boasso continues:

The political deal makers have run this state for too long at the expense of so many of our people who need affordable healthcare, quality education and the opportunity to secure a good paying job.  I will not be silenced by the status quo or by those unwilling to embrace a new direction for our state.  The challenges are too large and [sic] we have no time to waste.

Now this is a powerful paragraph.  Corruption and cronyism are placed squarely on the lap of the Republican Party, as are inflexibility, the status quo and useless dilatory tactics, a coded phrase that can be translated to mean inefficient government that enjoys wasting time. 

These are the words of a fighter, and Boasso is not taking any prisoners.  This must have grated on state Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere’s nerves.  And Villere’s response?

Some politicians switch parties because of philosophy and principle. … Walter has made it clear that he is just the opposite. He’s switching because he hasn’t been successful as a Republican candidate.

This is a petty response more befitting a schoolyard bully than a Party Chairman who locked a credible candidate named Walter Boasso out of the political process.   Actually, it does befit Roger Villere, for he is a schoolyard bully.  But if Villere desires to discuss principle and philosophy, let us discuss the many southern Democrats who switched to the Republican Party during the last three decades of the twentieth century as a result of their opposition to Civil Rights legislation.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s use of coded and overt racism to increase white, Republican turnout in close elections.  Let us discuss the southern Republican Party’s roots in figures such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. And let us discuss some of its more recent incarnations, George “Macaca” Allen, David Duke and LSU – Shreveport Professor Jeffrey Sadow, who claims Boasso “is even more off the reservation than Campbell.”  If Boasso is the opposite of those who adhere to racist principles and philosophies, I am more than ready to embrace his candidacy.

But notice what else Boasso mentions in this paragraph:  Boasso switched to the Democratic Party, as Boasso hopes to address the problems of healthcare, education and un(der)employment.  This is not your typical Republican menu of wedge issues with “family values,” guns and tax breaks as your main entrées and a gratuitous jab at the Landrieus as the lagniappe; this to me reads as the domestic agenda of a Democratic candidate.  Although I am still awaiting the specifics, I am impressed with what I see thus far.

Do you believe Boasso will propose a Democratic social agenda?  How many of his positions do you believe he will modify?  And how do you believe the Democratic Party should handle Boasso’s switch?  Should Chris Whittington make this into a world historical event, or should he allow Roger Villere to frame it as so much political prostitution?  And how should Boasso explain his decision to switch parties?  Should he mention President Bush’s approval ratings?  Should he mention Iraq?  Should he mention the disaster that was the 109th Congress?  Should he discuss how Jindal was one of the reasons the 109th Congress is named the “do nothing” Congress?  And should he mention Jindal’s failure to “get it done” for Louisiana? 

Feel free to quote from other news sources in the comments thread.  And be sure to read Jeffrey Sadow’s insane meditation on Boasso’s switch.  Sadow is so unglued, leather restraints cannot hold him back. 


Lousiana House 2007: LCRM Gloats; I Assiduously Take Notes

Crossposted at Daily Kingfish

If you have a spare moment in your busy schedule, I recommend you visit the webiste of the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, a PAC US Senator David Vitter bankrolls with Washington, DC, money. All the usual suspects are there: Paul Dickson, Wendy Vitter, Boysie Bollinger, David Vitter, TA Barfield, Joseph Canizaro, Michael Polito, Fox News and The Weekly Standard.  And there they are rehashing and revising all the 1994 rhetoric, failing to recall that today is the year 2007.  “Revolution,” “Republican re-alignment [sic],” “Republican domination,” “a Democrat [sic] Party in crisis,” “trial lawyers,” “smaller government,” “business friendly,” “an end to political corruption:”  all the tropes are there for the taking, and Vitter and company are falling on top of one another as they grasp for whatever straws they can find in their twisted fantasy space.  It is quite sick, really, especially when one wonders why they are so obsessed with hegemony.  For the goal is to present “the next Republican Governor” with a “Republican controlled House.”  Dissent and debate will not be brooked in their warped vision for Louisiana. 

Despite all the crowing about the impending “revolution,” LCRM has already conceded the state Senate to the Democrats.  Their eyes are focused on the state House, and they outline the following four step plan for their planned takeover of that chamber in their introductory video: maintain the 25 seats presently held by Republicans; hold all 15 open Republican seats; “switch” or defeat 7 Democratic incumbents in districts “friendly to Vitter and Bush;” win 20 of the open Democratic seats that “lean Republican.”

Here is a table enumerating the state House seats they plan to target with open Republican seats in pink, Republican seats in red, open Democratic seats in purple and Democratic seats in blue:

HD01 James Morris Caddo and Bossier Parishes
HD07 Beverly Bruce Caddo and DeSoto Parishes
HD09 Billy Wayne Montgomery Bossier Parish
HD10 Jean M. Doerge Webster Parish
HD13 Jim Fannin Bienville, Jackson, Ouachita and Winn Parishes
HD14 Charlie Mac McDonald East Carroll, Morehouse, Ouachita and West Carroll Parishes
HD19 Francis T. Thompson East Carroll, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and West Carroll Parishes
HD20 Lelon Kenney Caldwell, Catahoula, Franklin and Tensas Parishes
HD24 Joe Salter DeSoto, Red River, Sabine and Vernon Parishes
HD25 Charlie DeWitt Rapides and Vernon Parishes
HD27 Rick Farrar Rapides Parish
HD30 John Smith Beauregard and Vernon Parishes
HD32 Herman Ray Hill Allen, Beauregard and Vernon Parishes
HD39 Clara Guilbeau Baudoin Lafayette, St. Landry and St. Martin Parishes
HD41 Mickey Guillory Acadia, Evangeline and St. Landry Parishes
HD42 Gil Pinac Acadia and Lafayette Parishes
HD46 Sydnie Mae Durand St. Martin Parish
HD47 Mickey Frith Cameron and Vermilion Parishes
HD48 Romo Romero Iberia Parish
HD49 Troy Hebert Iberia and Vermilion Parishes
HD50 Jack Smith Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary Parishes
HD53 Damon Baldone Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes
HD55 Warren Triche Lafourche Parish
HD56 Gary Smith St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes
HD75 Harold Ritchie St. Tammany and Washington Parishes
HD84 NJ Damico Jefferson Parish
HD103 Kenneth Odinet Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes

Some of this is not very surprising, but I do not understand how Republicans believe an incumbent such as Damon Baldone, who secured a large portion of the Terrebonne Parish vote during the 2004 jungle primary for LA-03 and thereby enabled Charlie Melancon to edge past state Sen. Craign Romero into the runoff, would either switch parties or lose an election in his home turf.  I also wonder how they plan to smear Mickey Guillory, a former police officer, and Jean Doerge, a former educator.  And do they seriously believe River Parish voters will oust Gary Smith?

Their focus on Acadiana is the result of the popularity of John Breaux and Chris John in this region.  The Acadiana vote has always been one Republicans have had a difficult time securing, and they believe this is the year they can turn south Louisiana red.  While the fields for the jungle primaries for these races are yet to be formed, we do have promising Democratic candidates running for some of these open Democratic seats.  One worth watching and supporting is Simone Champagne, who retired from her position as Chief Administrator for Iberia Parish Government in order to run for Troy Hebert’s House seat.  If we can recruit organized and qualified candidates such as Champagne in every open Acadiana seat, we will derail LCRM’s plan to control the state House in the name of “Republican domination.”

What are your reactions to LCRM’s strategy?  And how do you interpret their rhetoric?  Is David Vitter obsessed with Chris John?  Do you see their strategy as viable?  Or do you view it as so much posturing and so much bilge?  Whether or not we agree with it, we at least know where the lines have been drawn, and we should prepare to fight them on each and every front. 

And we should also surprise them with attacks in districts they assume are safely Republican.  HD54, HD104, HD105 are three seats presently held by Republicans that are far from safe.  Two other seats that comes to mind unbidden are HD94 and HD95.  And according to one Louisiana political pundit, HD31 may become a very interesting race.